Sisterhood of Spies: The Women of the OSS

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9781591145141: Sisterhood of Spies: The Women of the OSS

The daring missions of America's World War II intelligence agency, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), are the stuff of legend, yet the contributions made by the 4,000 women―including Julia Child and Marlene Dietrich―who served in the OSS are largely unheralded. To tell their fascinating stories, McIntosh, a veteran of sensitive OSS and CIA operations, draws on her own experiences and on interviews with more than 100 OSS women who served all over the world. Captured in rich detail are the riveting tales of clandestine spies, saboteurs, cryptographers, cartographers, analysts, and experts in propaganda, recruiting, and communications, along with the less visible but no less important drivers and secretaries. The book was first published in 1998 to great reviews.

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Review:

Sisterhood of Spies is a real-life James Bond story, double-X chromosome-style. Here, though, the heroines aren't sex kittens in black spandex, but rather upper-crust women risking their lives in the service of a country at war. Elizabeth P. McIntosh was a reporter in Hawaii when the Office of Strategic Services (the C.I.A.'s precursor) recruited her to aid in its campaign of wartime disinformation. Fifty-five years later, she's taken it upon herself to tell the story of the women who served with her undercover--some of whom have also achieved aboveground celebrity, such as Marlene Dietrich and Julia Child. The narratives contained in Sisterhood of Spies couldn't be any more gripping if they were written as fiction: Nazi interrogation ordeals, daring escapes across mountain passes, expeditions behind enemy lines, even Mata Hari-style affairs. Ms. McIntosh's book is a fond ode to these women and a bravery that has remained unsung too long.

About the Author:

Elizabeth P. McIntosh was a war correspondent under Adm. Chester Nimitz when she joined the OSS in 1943, conducting morale operations against the Japanese in Burma and China. She worked for the CIA after the war.

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