Code Name Madeleine: A Sufi Spy in Nazi-Occupied Paris

Norton. Jun. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780393635188. $27.95. BIOG
Drawing on primary and secondary source material, as well as interviews and archival research, Magida (The Rabbi and the Hit Man; The Nazi Séance) documents the life of Noor Inayat Khan (1914–44). Posthumously awarded the highest civilian honor in the UK, Khan was a British spy and lesser-known unsung hero of World War II. The daughter of an Indian mystic and an American poet who lived in Moscow and Paris before escaping to England as war broke out, Khan joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and was later recruited by Winston Churchill’s “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare,” aka the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Known by the Allies and Nazis alike as “Madeleine,” she served as a wireless radio operator in occupied France and was instrumental in rebuilding a shattered Resistance network before her capture, torture, and execution at age 30. Magida here fills in the details of Noor’s life and death, as well as those of auxiliary family members and others, while moving her narrative to its suspenseful conclusion.
VERDICT A vivid and engaging biography recommended for readers of World War II history and women’s studies.
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