Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II By William Stevenson


Spymistress:

This book is an unreadable mess. Don’t waste your time.

There were a few interesting tidbits, but it’s not worth the time or the frustration of trying to negotiate the author’s shocking lack of narrative ability. Good grief.

This book reads as though the author threw in every detail - fact or rumour - he ever came across, just for the sake of including it. This style has the unsettling effect on the reader of constantly feeling as though you’re about to get the story around that detail, the reason for its inclusion, only to have the topic suddenly change entirely, with that original subject never to be addressed again.

The writing is disjointed and circular, with wild lateral leaps from topic to topic between paragraphs - and sometimes between sentences. And ‘facts’ are used as justification for conclusions that are only tangentially related in terms of subject matter.

It took me nearly a year to read this (for a reason) and I finished it entirely out of spite, just to get it the hell off my ‘currently reading’ shelf. Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II I can generally push through when a book is slow or complicated, but I could not get past the first 50 pages of this book. It is so disconnected and all over the place that it is hard to keep track of what is going on. Jumping locations and time periods is the worst part In the beginning. I love history books about WWII and was really looking forward to this. It is a shame it turned out to be a disappointment. Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II I must admit that I didn't finish this book. I really tried. I was eager to read it. However the writing is so disjointed that it was hard just to make sense of a paragraph. There was no flow at all. Every sentence seemed to have a new idea in it, so it was hard to figure out what was going on with whom when. A real pity because I truely enjoy biographys of daring women. Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II Warning, only read this book if you have good working background knowledge of WW II and a knowledge of the SOE.

Stevenson's book about Vera Atkins is not the best book about Atkins. Check out A Life In Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII, which was the first book I read about Atkins and started me on my WW II reading kick.

Stevenson jumps around; he jumps around too much and the book is not linear. He also is vague in places and seems not to have anything but a sense of worship for his subject. Atkins always feels like she is in the background, not the foreground. At times she seems over romanticized

I did learns some things, though. I did, however, find it interesting that Stevenson left out the fact that some of the female SOE members who were killed were raped first, at least as far as Atkins was able to determine. Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II This book should have been fascinating. It covers the shadowy Special Operations Executive during World War II and its spymaster, the secretive Vera Atkins, a Jewess born in Romania who became more English than the English.

However, I had to slog hard to get to the end. It is so disjointed and cryptic in places that I found myself reading passages again to try to understand them. The author introduces what look like interesting topics (e.g. his own father stuck in a house surrounded by Germans) only to drop them without further explanation. This made it a very frustrating read.

Certain people are introduced with little explanation of who they were. On the other hand, almost every time Admiral Canaris' name is mentioned we are told that he was chief of the Abwehr. This book needed rather more diligent editing than it plainly received.

And there are some strange omissions. We are told almost nothing of how Atkins recruited the majority of the operatives, and very little about the recruitment and training processes.

This is a pity because I have a particular interest in this area. However, the book has provided me with a number of topics for further research, which I hope will shed more light on them. Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II

The story is one to be told, but maybe not by this author Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II an interesting subject ... but the organization and the writing are both poor Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II I tried to read this book and couldn't get past the first chapter. I found the author jumped around erratically depending on the paragraph, and it was hard to understand what he was talking about. I got so frustrated I didn't bother continuing. Vera Atkins may have been a great female secret agent in WWII, but you need a decoder to read her biography... Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II The more that I read about WWII, the more I live with the realization that it's a darn miracle that we're not living in some alternative world. Anti-Semitism was rearing its ugly head and countries didn't want to do anything to help one another. Then after the war, many nations including the United States and Britain didn't want to take in refugees. The number of times that I put this book down and sighed in exasperation probably equals at least a hundred.

The persistence of a small group of people in fighting against Nazi policies and the war machine is the focus of this book. In particular, Spymistress is supposed to reveal the true individual that was British spy, Vera Atkins. Unfortunately, too many people overshadow a woman that remains as mysterious as the Enigma code. Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II This is painful! The bromide about a thousand monkeys locked in a room with a thousand typewriters may be totally in effect here. There is no narrative, there are only real and alleged facts randomly strung together with no discernible connective tissue except, perhaps, vague segmented periods of time. I am to surmise that Ms. Atkins was England's premier super-spy even pre-WWII feeding information to both William Stephenson's internation spy apparatus and ultimately to Winston Churchill himself (to whom she gave private briefings). Ms Atkins than ran the whole French SOE operation after the war started. Okay, why am I suppose to believe any of this except for Mr. Stevenson's fevered imagination (note that many of the provided footnotes cite private conversations?

I give up - I can't finish this mess (over 50% read). My head is going to explode if I keep tying to decrypt this gobbledygook. This is the poorest written book I think I have tried to read.

Vera Aktins was a force of nature and the S.O.E's French sector's spark plug, most ardent defender and its' field agents avenging angel - her memory deserves much, much better than this disorganized, poorly written and, to a large degree, factually dubious morass of randomly mashed together string of words! Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II

A rousing tale of espionage and unsung valor, this is the captivating true story of Vera Atkins, Great Britain's spymistress from the age of 25. With her fierce intelligence, blunt manner, personal courage, and exceptional informants, Vera ran countless missions throughout the 1930s. After rising to the leadership echelon in the Special Operations Executive (SOE), a covert intelligence agency formed by Winston Churchill, she became head of a clandestine army in World War II. Her team went deep behind enemy lines, linked up with resistance fighters, destroyed vital targets, helped Allied pilots escape capture, assassinated German soldiers, and radioed information back to London. As the biographer of her mentor in the SOE, William Stevenson was the only person Vera Atkins trusted to record her story. Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II

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