Code name Madeleine A Sufi spy in Nazi-occupied Paris

Arthur J. Magida

Book - 2020

"The dramatic story of Noor Inayat Khan, secret agent for the British in occupied France. During the critical summer months of 1943, Noor Inayat Khan was the only wireless operator transmitting secret messages from Nazi-occupied France to the Special Operations Executive in England. She was a most unlikely spy. As the daughter of an Indian mystic, raised in a household devoted to peaceful reflection on the outskirts of Paris, Khan did not seem destined for wartime heroism. Yet, faced with t...he evils of Nazism, she could not look away. She volunteered to help the British; was trained in espionage, sabotage, and reconnaissance; and returned to France under cover of night with a new identity and a code name: Madeleine. Khan transmitted countless details crucial to the Allies' success on D-Day, until she was captured and imprisoned by the Gestapo. She attempted two daring escapes before being sent to prison in Germany. Three months after the Allied invasion of France, she was executed at Dachau. Her last word was "liberté.""--

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2nd Floor 940.5486/Magida Checked In
New York, NY : W.W. Norton & Company, Inc [2020]
First edition
Physical Description
324 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Arthur J. Magida (author)
  • Prelude. The Moon Goddess
  • The rising. The air of heaven ; Never be a "naughty girly" ; "This is not good for your health" ; The road is weeping
  • "Our cheers are going all over England". The bloody world's on fire ; A thing no human could face with anything but terror ; "I am a busy little girl now" ; "I have gained my subjects' freedom"
  • The power and the glory. The business is underway ; The joy of sacrifice ; "I need trees" ; A date at Le Colisée ; "When I see you again, it will be after the war"
  • In the world of no world. "Madeleine, don't be silly. You will kill yourself" ; Sacred honor ; The realm of ghosts ; Gethsemane and Golgotha
  • Afterword. "I pray with Noor."
Review by Booklist Review

Noor Inayat Khan was an unlikely spy for Great Britain during WWII. The daughter of a noble Indian Muslim man and an American woman, Noor spent her childhood in France learning the principles of Sufism. Noor's father taught her to value peace and honesty above all else, but her pacifist ideals were tested when she witnessed the atrocities committed by Nazis. She was compelled to help end Nazi tyranny and joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. Noor was ultimately recruited by the Special Operations Executive to serve as an undercover wireless radio operator in Nazi-occupied Paris. During her training, many of her peers and superiors doubted her abilities, but Noor proved them all wrong. For four months, until her capture, she transmitted crucial messages to Britain under the code name Madeleine. Unwavering through the cruelties of imprisonment, Noor refused to divulge information, which led to her execution. Magida delivers a gripping account of a tenacious young woman who demonstrated bravery in the face of extreme evil. Recommended for anyone who enjoys inspiring tales of heroism.Women in Focus: the 19th in 2020

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Library Journal Review

Drawing on primary and secondary source material, as well as interviews and archival research, Magida (The Rabbi and the Hit Man; The Nazi Séance) documents the life of Noor Inayat Khan (1914--44). Posthumously awarded the highest civilian honor in the UK, Khan was a British spy and lesser-known unsung hero of World War II. The daughter of an Indian mystic and an American poet who lived in Moscow and Paris before escaping to England as war broke out, Khan joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and was later recruited by Winston Churchill's "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare," aka the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Known by the Allies and Nazis alike as "Madeleine," she served as a wireless radio operator in occupied France and was instrumental in rebuilding a shattered Resistance network before her capture, torture, and execution at age 30. Magida here fills in the details of Noor's life and death, as well as those of auxiliary family members and others, while moving her narrative to its suspenseful conclusion. VERDICT A vivid and engaging biography recommended for readers of World War II history and women's studies.--Linda Frederiksen, formerly with Washington State Univ. Lib., Vancouver

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

A singular World War II tale highlights the bravery of a Sufi mystic's daughter who sacrificed a peaceful life in France to become a secret agent for the British during the war. Magida fashions a highly original biography of the short, brave life of Noor Inayat Khan (1914-1944), who became a radio operator for the British in her late 20s and was dropped into France as a spy in the summer of 1943. It is a sad and harrowing story of a young woman with a steely will and strong sense of family honor who was eagerly incorporated into wartime service by the British Special Operations Executive, perhaps due to her mixed upbringing and perfect French--even though one official noted that she was "sensitive, somewhat dreamy." Magida spends a substantial, fascinating portion of the narrative exploring Khan's unusual upbringing in the suburbs of Paris, where her father, a renowned Indian-born Sufi mystic teacher and musician, taught his international pupils and disciples. Noor's mother, Ora, was the sister of the notorious self-styled yogi Pierre Bernard. By the author's account, Noor's upbringing was spiritually oriented, literary, and sheltered, and the family was uprooted when her father died. Noor, who trained as a musician as well, was closest to her mother and younger brother, Vilayat. Joining the exodus to England when the Nazis invaded in June 1940, the siblings, nonviolent rather than pacifist, had to decide how best to aid the war effort. Noor enlisted and trained in wireless telegraphy. While courageous, "direct…forthright and no pushover," and "used to being underestimated," Noor (spy name Madeleine) unfortunately disregarded some important rules of the secret agent, such as not contacting anyone she had known before the war, and her movements caught the attention of the Gestapo. She was imprisoned and eventually executed at Dachau. A harrowing thriller in which a young woman's "joy of sacrifice" turned to tragedy. (37 illustrations) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.