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Gertrude "Gertie" Legendre was a society heiress from South Carolina who lived a charmed life during the 1920s and 1930s. But the attack on Pearl Harbor gave her a different focus and she joined the OSS (the predecessor to the CIA). First in Washington and then in London, some of the most closely-held government secrets passed through her hands. As the Allies advanced into France in September 1944, she was ordered to Paris. Headstrong and eager "to smell the fighting," she fell into Nazi hands. Subjected to repeated interrogations, including by the SS, she held to the fiction that she was merely a U.S. embassy clerk. Her toughness averted a potential intelligence disaster, and unlike most prisoners, Gertie was presumed valuable to Nazis who knew they'd soon need a bargaining chip with the victors. Moved from city to city throughout Germany for six months before her dramatic escape into Switzerland, she was able to witness the collapse of Hitler's Reich as no other American did. A Guest of the Reich provides a propulsive, heart-racing account of a little-known chapter in the story of the war, and a vivid portrait of a truly extraordinary woman.

 

Details

ISBN: 9781524747336
Audience: General
Format: Hardback
Number of Pages: 256
Publication Date: 24 Sep 2019
Publisher: Random House USA Inc
Publication City, Country: New York, United States
Dimensions (cm): 23.5(H) x 13.9(L)

 

Reviews

"Gripping . . . As well-paced and exciting to read as a good thriller."
--Moira Hodgson, The Wall Street Journal

"The life of a young woman named Gertrude 'Gertie' Legendre was so exotic that it sounds like the plot of a stage play or a motion picture . . . Her saga is like no other."
--Jonathan Kirsch, The Washington Post

"A vivid chronicle of the waning days of Nazi Germany, when a country answered for its own hubris and one American woman witnessed the nightmare."
--Mary Ann Gwinn, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"I read A Guest of the Reich breathlessly, and found myself amazed by the pluck, guts, and courage of Gertrude Legendre . . . Her life was one enormous adventure."
--Lisa Birnbach, author of True Prep

"Thrilling! A Guest of the Reich is an intimate spy story, as though a dear friend is taking us along on her misadventure behind Nazi lines."
--Bill Dedman, author of Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

"Beautifully paced . . . An entertaining picture of a remarkable woman . . . Finn's own writing shines in his description of pre-war American high society."
--The Economist

"Gertrude Legendre was anything but the average rich society hostess; she possessed an unquenchable desire for adventure . . . [A] riveting account of a little-known historical personality."
--Library Journal

"[A] biographical adventure story . . . Legendre's life makes for a captivating historical yarn and a unique addition to the cultural history of World War II."
--Booklist

"Legendre was an extraordinary woman, whose 'journey through Hitler's collapsing Reich' will appeal to anyone equally enamored of glamor and wartime adventure."
--Publishers Weekly

"An intrepid American heiress, already a world traveler and big-game hunter, tumbles into World War II, ending up a prisoner of the Gestapo as the Nazi regime begins to collapse. This is a true adventure story, a story of spirit and courage told wonderfully well."
--Kate Alcott, author of The Dressmaker

"Gertrude Legendre was a glamorous New York socialite, a world-class adventurer, and a crack shot with a rifle . . . With thorough research and skillful writing Peter Finn brings to life her dramatic story. It's better than anything Hollywood could invent."
--Douglas Waller, author of Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage

 

Author Biography

PETER FINN is the National Security Editor at The Washington Post. He is also the co-author of The Zhivago Affair- The Kremlin, the CIA and the Battle over a Forbidden Book, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for non-fiction and a finalist for the Pushkin House Russian Book Prize. The Zhivago Affair has been translated into eight languages. He lives in northern Virginia.

A Guest of the Reich: The Story of American Heiress Gertrude Legendre and her Dramatic Captivity and Daring Escape from Nazi Germany
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