45: WOMEN IN INTELLIGENCE with Helen Fry | Booked Up with Jen Taub

We are extraordinarily grateful that historian and biographer Dr. Helen Fry made time for us right as her latest book Women in Intelligence : The Hidden History of Two World Wars was released in the UK and is poised to launch in the United States.

This new book is filled with intrigue hidden in plain sight. Spies recruited at cafés, ordinary women bicycling around town passing along messages to help the Allies, secret codes knit into jumpers (that’s the British English word for what we Americans call sweaters). Helen Fry has authored too many popular books to count. These include: The London Cage, The Walls Have Ears, MI9, Spymaster: The Man who Saved M16 and more than twenty books on intelligence, prisoners of war, and the social history of World War II. She appears regularly in media interviews and podcasts and has been involved in numerous documentaries.

Here’s the official, delicious description of Women in Intelligence: “In this major, panoramic history, Helen Fry looks at the rich and varied work women undertook as civilians and in uniform. From spies who worked for the Belgian network ‘La Dame Blanche’, knitting coded messages into jumpers, to those who interpreted aerial images and even ran entire sections, Fry shows just how crucial women were in the intelligence mission.”

Nigel West, author of Spies Who Changed History described Women in Intelligence as “A fascinating, minutely researched study of women in the espionage business.” And Clare Mulley, author of The Spy Who Loved, warns us: “Beware – this is a book full of danger and deception, sabotage and secret codes, and some brilliant, unstoppable women.

“This account is long overdue. Helen Fry redresses the relative neglect of the contribution of women as intelligence officer and agents during and between the two world wars, with gripping personal stories of bravery, grit and analytic brilliance.”—Sir David Omand GCB, former Director of GCHQ

Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. The focus of her (okay, we’ve counted now. It’s ) 25 books has been the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. Her highly acclaimed book T he Walls Have Ears: The Greatest Intelligence Operation of WWII was in the top 8 Daily Mail’s Books of the Year in War, and has been optioned for film.

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