The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Dark Invasion, channels Erik Larson and Ben Macintyre in this riveting biography of Betty Pack, the dazzling American debutante who became an Allied spy during WWII and was hailed by OSS chief General Wild Bill" Donovan as the greatest unsung heroine of the war.Read more...
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The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Dark Invasion, channels Erik Larson and Ben Macintyre in this riveting biography of Betty Pack, the dazzling American debutante who became an Allied spy during WWII and was hailed by OSS chief General Wild Bill" Donovan as the greatest unsung heroine of the war.
Betty Pack was charming, beautiful, and intelligent and she knew it. As an agent for Britain s MI-6 and then America s OSS during World War II, these qualities proved crucial to her success. This is the remarkable story of this Mata Hari from Minnesota (Time) and the passions that ruled her tempestuous life a life filled with dangerous liaisons and death-defying missions vital to the Allied victory.
For decades, much of Betty s career working for MI-6 and the OSS remained classified. Through access to recently unclassified files, Howard Blum discovers the truth about the attractive blond, codenamed Cynthia, who seduced diplomats and military attaches across the globe in exchange for ciphers and secrets; cracked embassy safes to steal codes; and obtained the Polish notebooks that proved key to Alan Turing s success with Operation Ultra.
Beneath Betty s cool, professional determination, Blum reveals a troubled woman conflicted by the very traits that made her successful: her lack of deep emotional connections and her readiness to risk everything. The Last Goodnight is a mesmerizing, provocative, and moving portrait of an exceptional heroine whose undaunted courage helped to save the world."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-02-22
- Reviewer: Staff
Passion fuels the missions of WWII secret agent “Cynthia,” aka Betty Pack (1910–1963), in this scrupulously researched profile of the “blonde Bond” from Vanity Fair contributing editor Blum (Dark Invasion). Taking advantage of access to newly declassified material, Blum leaves little to the imagination. Pack, née Thorpe, grew up in Washington, D.C., and an early marriage to an English civil servant led to an unexpected career as an MI6 agent when the couple was posted overseas. Having seduced her way through Spain during its Civil War and Warsaw on the eve of WWII, an assignment to infiltrate the embassy of Vichy France sent her into the arms of husband number two. The book opens in 1960s France, with Pack—as Mme. Brousse—reconnecting with fellow operative H.M. Hyde after a two-decade hiatus, igniting old sparks. Hyde serves as the willing confidant to whom she recounts her life story, which Blum presents in seven parts, each featuring a different romance. Though barely known today, Pack’s undercover work changed the course of the war in favor of the Allied troops. Details of her early life seem superfluous, but Blum successfully delineates the social forces in play at the time and conveys the irresistible magnetism that turned a young woman into a world-class spy. Photos. (Apr.)