The Literary Horizon: Spy Princess


Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan


This is the remarkable biography of Noor Inayat Khan, code named “Madeleine”. The first woman wireless transmitter in occupied France during WWII, she was trained by Britain’s SOE and assumed the most dangerous resistance post in underground Paris. Betrayed into the hands of the Gestapo, Noor resisted intensive interrogation, severe deprivation and torture with courage and silence, revealing nothing to her captors, not even her own name. She was executed at Dachau in 1944.

“Spy Princess” details Noor’s inspiring life from birth to death, incorporating information from her family, friends, witnesses, and official records including recently released personal files of SOE operatives. It is the story of a young woman who lived with grace, beauty, courage and determination, and who bravely offered the ultimate sacrifice of her own life in service of her ideals. Her last word was “Liberte”.

tumblr and I share a love for amazing women, so when it introduced me to Noor Inayat Khan, I immediately looked for a biography of her. I mean, this is just astonishing stuff—a young accomplished Anglo-Indian musician and writer gives up everything to fight Nazis in Occupied France, resisting them with her dying breath. Accordingly, this biography has already been optioned for a film.

Malabika B. at Teen Ink enjoyed how the biography balanced the different sides of Khan’s nature. Swashwati Talukdar at Sawnet found it well-researched, but also points out that Khan herself can get lost. Bubbles at Strawberries and Buttercups enjoyed Khan’s story, but thought Basu spent too much time on her father and his family. Jayan Parameswaran at BrainDrain liked how the book explored how Khan didn’t fit the profile of spy, as well as how readable it was.

Spy Princess was published on February 8, 2006.

3 thoughts on “The Literary Horizon: Spy Princess

  1. Pingback: Nonfiction Recommendation Engine: Part II

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