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Women in War: Spies, Code Breakers, and Resistance

Check out these gripping stories about women at war. This list includes fiction as well as real-life stories!

April 30, 2021

Check out these gripping stories about women at war. This list includes fiction as well as real-life stories!

Great for fans of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

 

Fiction

The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman

Erika Robuck

A gripping historical novel based on the true story of Allied spy Virginia Hall follows the experiences of a reluctant debutante who accepts recruitment into Strategic Services before a devastating betrayal by a trusted person upends her first operation.

The Paris Library

The Paris Library

Janet Skeslien

Based on a true story, describes how a lonely, 1980s teenager befriends an elderly neighbor and uncovers her past as a librarian at the American Library in Paris who joined the Resistance when the Nazis arrived.

The Rose Code

The Rose Code

Kate Quinn

Joining the elite Bletchley Park codebreaking team during World War II, three women from very different walks of life uncover a spy’s dangerous agenda years later against the backdrop of the royal wedding of Elizabeth and Philip.

A Question of Betrayal

A Question of Betrayal

Anne Perry

A sequel to Death in Focus finds daring young MI6 photographer Elena Standish embarking on a first mission in Mussolini’s Italy to rescue and uncover the truth about a former lover who betrayed her six years earlier.

Atomic Love

Atomic Love

Jennie Fields

Recruited by the FBI to spy on her former lover, a guilt-riddled Manhattan Project physicist becomes torn between lingering feelings for her ex and her growing attraction to a special agent, a former prisoner of war.

Miss Graham's Cold War Cookbook

Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook

Celia Rees

Recruited as a spy for the OSS for her educational background and brother’s Oxford connections to help find a war criminal in occupied post-World War II Germany, a young British schoolteacher finds herself surrounded by civilians hiding dubious agendas.

Code Name Hélène

Code Name Hélène

Ariel Lawhon

A novel based on the real life story of socialite spy Nancy Wake, about the astonishing woman who killed a Nazi with her bare hands and went on to become one of the most decorated women in WWII.

The Black Swan of Paris

The Black Swan of Paris

Karen Robards

A celebrated singer in World War II occupied France joins the Resistance to save her estranged family from being killed in a German prison.

The Book of Lost Names

The Book of Lost Names

Kristin Harmel

Escaping from Paris in 1942 after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew, a graduate student finds refuge in a small mountain town, where she forges identity documents to help hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis.

Spy

Spy

Danielle Steel

Recruited as a spy during World War II, a stunningly beautiful young woman hides her dangerous double life from her foreign-service husband throughout the decades of the Cold War.

The Lost Girls of Paris

The Lost Girls of Paris

Pam Jenoff

After finding an abandoned suitcase filled with photographs, Grace Healey soon learns the case belonged to the leader of a network of female secret agents deployed during World War II.

Resistance Women

Resistance Women

Jennifer Chiaverini

Resisting the power grabs of an increasingly formidable Nazi Party in 1930s Berlin, the courageous American wife of a German intellectual and her circle of women friends engage in a clandestine battle to sabotage Hitler’s regime.

The Secrets We Kept

The Secrets We Kept

Lara Prescott

A thrilling tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, and of sacrifice—inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda, but with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Doctor Zhivago.

The Huntress

The Huntress

Kate Quinn

Stranded behind enemy lines, brave bomber pilot Nina Markova becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress and joins forces with a Nazi hunter and British war correspondent to find her before she finds them.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Leila Meacham

Teamed together to infiltrate Nazi ranks in occupied Paris, five idealistic American spies from diverse backgrounds begin questioning who they can trust when one of their number is killed.

The Alice Network

The Alice Network

Kate Quinn

In 1947, pregnant Charlie St. Clair, an American college girl banished from her family, arrives in London to find out what happened to her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, and meets a former spy who, torn apart by betrayal, agrees to help her on her mission.

An Extraordinary Union

An Extraordinary Union

Alyssa Cole

During the Civil War, two undercover agents, Elle Burns, a former slave, and Malcolm McCall, a detective in Pinkerton’s Secret Service, uncover a plot that could lead to a Confederate victory and vow to preserve the Union at any cost.

The Women in the Castle

The Women in the Castle

Jessica Shattuck

At the end of World War II, Marianne von Lingenfels offers shelter to two widows of fallen resistance fighters and their children in a formerly majestic Bavarian castle that was once host to German aristocrats.

The Spy

The Spy

Paulo Coelho

In a series of letters written from prison on the eve of her death, Mata Hari reflects on her childhood, her years as the wife of an alcoholic diplomat, her rise to celebrity, and the choices that led to her execution for espionage.

The Spymistress

The Spymistress

Jennifer Chiaverini

Pledging her loyalty to the North at the risk of her life when her native Virginia secedes, Quaker-educated aristocrat Elizabeth Van Lew uses her innate skills for gathering military intelligence to help construct the Richmond underground and orchestrate escapes from the infamous Confederate Libby Prison.

Sweet Tooth

Sweet Tooth

Ian McEwan

Recruited into MI5 against a backdrop of the Cold War in 1972, Cambridge student Serena Frome, a compulsive reader, is assigned to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer whose politics align with those of the government.

Jackdaws

Jackdaws

Ken Follett

With the Allies preparing for the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe, Felicity “Flick” Clariet, a British special operations agent, must take on the job of destroying German lines of communication with the aid of an all-woman team.

 

Nonfiction

The Princess Spy

The Princess Spy
The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones

Larry Loftis

The best-selling author of Code Name: Lise chronicles the extraordinary life of OSS spy Aline Griffith, who performed deep-cover intelligence missions during and after World War II throughout the upper echelons of European politics and society.

Code Name Madeleine

Code Name Madeleine
A Sufi Spy in Nazi-Occupied Paris

Arthur J. Magida

Documents the story of artist Noor Inayat Khan, the daughter of an Indian Sufi mystic who joined the British SOE during World War II and became an only wireless operator in Paris during the crucial months leading up to D-Day.

A Woman of No Importance

A Woman of No Importance
The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II

Sonia Purnell

Traces the lesser-known story of mid-20th-century spy Virginia Hall, detailing her pivotal role in coordinating Resistance activities in Europe that helped change the course of World War II.

Madame Fourcade's Secret War

Madame Fourcade’s Secret War
The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler

Lynne Olson

Tells the true story of the woman who headed the largest spy network in occupied France during World War II, who was captured twice by the Nazis and managed to escape both times while keeping her network together.

D-Day Girls

D-Day Girls
The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II

Sarah Rose

Documents the story of the extraordinary women recruited by Britain’s elite spy agency to sabotage the Nazis and help pave the way for Allied victory during World War II.

Code Name: Lise

Code Name: Lise
The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy

Larry Loftis

Tells the true story of Odette Sansom, the British spy who operated in occupied France and fell in love with her commanding officer during World War II.

Code Girls

Code Girls
The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II

Liza Mundy

Documents the contributions of more than ten thousand American women who served as codebreakers during World War II, detailing how their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and enabled their subsequent careers.

The Last Goodnight

The Last Goodnight
A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure, and Betrayal

Howard Blum

Presents a portrait of American debutante and World War II spy Betty Pack that draws on recently declassified files to explore her MI-6 career and key role in successful Allied missions.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy
Four Women Undercover in the Civil War

Karen Abbott

Draws from primary source material and interviews to weave together the adventures of four courageous women who risked everything to become spies during the most tumultuous years of the Civil War.

The Girls of Atomic City

The Girls of Atomic City
The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

Denise Kiernan

Looks at the valuable contributions made by the thousands of women who worked at a secret uranium-enriching facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee during World War II.

American Nightingale

American Nightingale
The Story of Frances Slanger, Forgotten Heroine of Normandy

Bob Welch

Traces the life of an American nurse who died at Normandy, describing her childhood in Poland, immigration to America, decision to become a nurse, and letter to the Stars and Stripes newspaper that would inspire thousands of soldiers.