Dear Commons Community,
If you are looking for an end of summer biography, I would highly recommend, The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville by Clare Mulley. Christine was born Maria Krystyna Janina Skarbek, the daughter of a Polish aristocrat and a wealthy Jewish heiress. She enjoyed a comfortable and uneventful upbringing; her main achievement being runner-up in the 1930 Miss Poland beauty contest. However, once war broke out in Europe, she committed herself totally to the fight to oust Germany from her homeland.
She was in South Africa, the wife of a Polish diplomat, when the Germans invaded Poland in September 1939. She worked her way to London, presented herself to the British secret service and offered to ski over the Carpathian Mountains into Poland in order to take British propaganda into Nazi-occupied Warsaw. She adopted the name Christine Granville as part of her cover.
She was described as “absolutely fearless..” and a “flaming Polish patriot.” She becomes even more fearless as the war progresses and became one of Britain’s top spies in France and helped disrupt German communications and transportation in preparation for the Allied invasion. She won medals for bravery from both Britain and France. I will not go into the fine points only to say that the last third of the book is riveting providing many of the sad details of the war atrocities in Warsaw.
Men also found her irresistible, and she used her charms for her cause. She survived the war only to be murdered a few years later by an obsessed former lover in the lobby of a London hotel.
In sum, a well-done biography of one of the little known heroes of World War II.