SOCIAL SCIENCES

A Guest of the Reich: The Story of American Heiress Gertrude Legendre’s Dramatic Captivity and Escape from Nazi Germany

Pantheon. Sept. 2019. 256p. notes. index. ISBN 9781524747336. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9781524747343. HIST
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Toward the end of 1944, heiress Gertrude Legendre and her naval officer colleague Bob Jennings were stationed in liberated France and wished to see the action on the front lines. Crossing paths with a counterintelligence friend of Jennings and another officer with clearance of the area, the four headed out. Unbeknown to the group, the area had reverted to German occupation. The party was quickly pinned down by German snipers, and Legendre became a “guest” of the Reich. Finn (coauthor, The Zhivago Affair) shows that Legendre was anything but the average rich society hostess; she possessed an unquenchable desire for adventure, preferring long hunting expeditions to society gatherings. Her unshakable persona convinced the Nazis that she was a fluffy American heiress who bought her way into a useless military position. In reality, Legendre was a employee of the OSS entrusted with top-secret information, routing cables for the Allies. Yet she managed to reveal nothing, to maintain her social status facade, and eventually pull off a breathtaking escape.
VERDICT This riveting account of a little-known historical personality will appeal to World War II and general history fans alike. [See Prepub Alert, 3/11/19.]

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