The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of Sisterhood of Spies, by Elizabeth McIntosh

Here’s a helpful hint: If you and your lover are at a foreign embassy trying to break into a vault, take your clothes off and work naked. That way, any guard who barges in on you will leave quickly without being able to see what you are really up to. Of course, there’s no guarantee of success, but it did work once, as Elizabeth McIntosh notes in her book, Sisterhood of Spies.

Although sometimes reading like a catalogue of who did what, McIntosh loaded this book about the Office of Strategic Services — predecessor to the CIA — with many intriguing anecdotes similar to the one above. Despite the unfortunate tendency of the men in charge to treat many of the highly educated and multi-lingual OSS women as if they were inherently incapable of doing the work given to less intelligent, less gifted men, a fair number of women worked as researchers, agents, station managers, and propagandists. Along with McIntosh herself were Marlene Dietrich and the seemingly unflappable Julia Child, then still Julia McWilliams. More lethal to the enemy was “the limping lady,” a one-legged agent who disguised herself as a French peasant while organizing air drops, training agents, and sending radio dispatches to London. A woman fluent in Czech developed a strategy that led to hundreds of Czech soldiers defecting to the Allies. And on and on, in an amazing chronicle of the contributions made by OSS women during the Second World War. This is definitely on my “recommend” list.

Animal lovers have little to worry about when reading this book. There is the occasional sedative slipped to a guard dog and numerous pets, and the Limping Lady actually milked cows and herded goats as part of her cover. Because the events of this book occurred during a war, there are also dead and hungy livestock noted. But the latter are fleeting, and this book is therefore SAFE for animal lovers.

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February 14, 2009 - Posted by | animals, Book Reviews, history | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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