By Damien Lewis
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Vanity Fair, Best Books of 2022
Booklist, Best Books of 2022
Singer. Actress. Beauty. Spy. During WWII, Josephine Baker, the world's richest and most glamorous entertainer, was an Allied spy in Occupied France.
Prior to World War II, Josephine Baker was a music-hall diva renowned for her singing and dancing, her beauty and sexuality; she was the highest-paid female performer in Europe. When the Nazis seized her adopted city, Paris, she was banned from the stage, along with all “negroes and Jews.” Yet instead of returning to America, she vowed to stay and to fight the Nazi evil. Overnight, she went from performer to Resistance spy.
In Agent Josephine, bestselling author Damien Lewis uncovers this little-known history of the famous singer’s life. During the war years, as a member of the French Nurse paratroopers—a cover for her spying work—Baker participated in numerous clandestine activities and emerged as a formidable spy. In turn, she was a hero of the three countries in whose name she served—the US, France, and Britain.
Drawing on a plethora of new historical material and rigorous research, including previously undisclosed letters and journals, Lewis upends the conventional story of Josephine Baker, explaining why she fully deserves her unique place in the French Panthéon.
The writing of this book has presented an unusual set of challenges, and mostly due to the secrecy that surrounded, and still surrounds, operations of the security services. In 1949, the main protagonist of this book, Josephine Baker, who was a special agent serving on espionage duties for the Allies during the Second World War, told her biographer, Marcel Sauvage, precious little about her wartime activities on behalf of the Allies, and very deliberately so. She rarely if ever spoke or wrote in detail about any of her wartime work, and went to her grave in 1975 taking many of those secrets with her.1
In 1975, the year of Josephine Baker’s death, Colonel Paul Paillole, her immediate chief at the Deuxième Bureau – basically, the French equivalent of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) or the American CIA – published his own account of his war years, entitled Services Spéciaux 1935–1945. In The Author’s Introduction, Paillole explained why he came to take the decision to break the rigid code of secrecy, by which he still felt bound some three decades after the end of the Second World War, and which is defined by the saying that ‘What is secret should remain secret.’ He had chosen to do so to counter falsehoods that had arisen in the interim, while still acknowledging that much could not be written, and that the code of silence was one in which he still ardently believed and by which he was bound. As Paillole made clear, even after the thirty-year-rule had elapsed, any such public release of material still needed to be processed through the relevant French authorities.2
A few years earlier, the acclaimed French Resistance hero, Colonel Rémy – real name Gilbert Renault – who became a prominent author after the war, wrote his own account of Josephine Baker’s war and that of her Deuxième Bureau partner, Captain Jacques Abtey. It is entitled J.A.: Épisodes de la vie d’un agent du S.R. et du contre-espionnage français. In the introduction to that book, which is based upon extensive interviews with the key protagonists, Rémy explained how the aim of writing it was chiefly to honour Josephine Baker and her colleagues’ war effort. It was a homage chiefly to her – and Captain Abtey’s – wartime service. That a man of Colonel Rémy’s stature felt compelled to tell their wartime story reflects the importance and status it held, at least in Colonel Rémy’s eyes.3
However, Rémy also outlined how the constraints of secrecy binding French security service agents were far more stringent than what was expected of those who served in the French Resistance. In short, those waging the espionage war were privy to secrets of far greater sensitivity and longevity than those who had waged a guerrilla war to drive out the enemy. As Rémy explained, the war of the shadows – the espionage war – never ended, whereas the role of the Resistance was over once peace was declared. The sensitivities and the need for secrecy regarding the former endures. As a result, even in Rémy’s account some names, places, dates, and even the events portrayed had been suitably disguised. Much had been left out, due to issues of ongoing sensitivity and secrecy.4
In 1949, and again in 1967, Captain Abtey wrote accounts of his wartime service, the first book entitled La Guerre Secrète de Joséphine Baker, and the second, 2ème Bureau Contre Abwehr (which is co-authored with an Abwehr – German military intelligence – veteran of the Second World War). In the latter volume, Abtey writes of how the rules concerning French intelligence work require that any files concerning those operations are closed to the public for several decades at the very least. Indeed, some of the most important Second World War-era files concerning Captain Abtey and Josephine Baker’s wartime service were only released to the public in 2020, more than seventy-five years after the events they pertain to. As a point of note, the French government and the French security services should be applauded in deciding that files concerning the activities of their intelligence agencies can be released after appropriate time has elapsed. As far as I am aware, there are no such laws or practices concerning the equivalent British agencies, and few if any files, no matter their vintage, are ever released to the public.5
I also believe that the concept of ‘plausible deniability’ has been applied to some, if not all of the above accounts, as any number of the activities described therein – or indeed deliberately left out of some of the accounts – were on the very cusp of what was legal and sanctioned and acceptable, at least outside times of war. Needless to say, the war and the long and savage occupation of France pitted French men and French women against each other, and loyalties were often conflicted and opaque. The history of much of this remains sensitive, and often accounts were written with a view to not upsetting the status quo, or to avoid attracting opprobrium to the protagonists. Stories concerning French collaboration with the Nazis during the Occupation remain particularly sensitive. The rights and wrongs are still hotly debated and for many this remains a sensitive subject.
Then there are the intricacies and layers of secrecy which attach to the wartime operations of special agents themselves. Rarely in reports submitted to military and political leaders are the sources of the intelligence made clear, only the reliability of those sources (I elaborate upon this further in the main body of this book). Moreover, during the Second World War agents of different Allied nations had a vested interest in claiming ownership of key war-winning intelligence as delivered to their taskmasters, regardless of its true genesis. As just one example, the 12 Apostles – the American Vice Consuls who were dispatched to French North Africa to spy on behalf of US President Roosevelt – hoovered up intelligence from a vast array of largely non-American sources, and took the lion’s share of the credit for having secured it. Josephine Baker was by then a French national, as were many of her special agent colleagues; the Polish spymaster codenamed Rygor was another key source for the Apostles.
As one final layer of intrigue, there is also a supposedly fictional account that deals in some depth with Josephine Baker and Jacques Abtey’s wartime service, but which is, by the author’s own admission, actually a true story in which he has had to disguise some names, dates and minor details. That extraordinary tale, written by Austrian author Johannes Mario Simmel, and called in English It Can’t Always Be Caviar, tells the wartime story of Hans Müssig, a German national, although Simmel uses the pseudonym ‘Thomas Lieven’ for Müssig in the book. Müssig, a fervent anti-Nazi, was a most unusual character. He was also something of a French intelligence agent and he proved a very useful and dynamic colleague for Jacques Abtey and Josephine Baker, one who refused to be hamstrung by tradition or convention.
Unpicking and sifting the fact from the fiction and identifying the deliberate obfuscations in the above accounts, and cross-referencing that with the wartime and post-war files and the plethora of other documents that have survived, has been a challenge. Very likely, I have not always reached the right conclusion, although I have endeavoured strenuously to do so. Nevertheless, I believe that the story as told in the following pages is as close to the truth as can ever be reached from the vast amount of often-contradictory material that is available. It remains the most credible, plausible and convincing account, one backed up by the most numerous and reliable sources.
There are sadly few survivors from the Second World War activities described in these pages. Throughout the decade spent researching and writing this book I have sought to be in contact with as many as possible, plus surviving family members of those who have passed away. If there are further witnesses to the stories told who are inclined to come forward, please do get in touch, as I will endeavour to include further recollections, where relevant, in future editions.
The time spent by Allied special agents operating far from friendly territory tended to be stressful and traumatic and wreathed in layers of secrecy, and many chose to take their stories to their graves. Memories tend to differ and apparently none more so than those concerning such work. The written accounts that do exist tend to differ, and locations and chronologies are sometimes contradictory. Nevertheless, I have endeavoured to provide an accurate sense of place and time. Where various accounts of a mission or an event appear to be particularly confused, the methodology I have used to determine where, when and how events took place is the ‘most likely’ scenario. If two or more testimonies or sources point to a particular time or place or sequence of events, I have opted to use that account. The dialogue used in the pages that follow is in all cases taken from either contemporaneous accounts, or from accounts written after the war by the individuals portrayed.
The above notwithstanding, any mistakes herein are entirely of my own making, and I would be happy to correct any in future editions. Likewise, while I have attempted to locate the copyright holders of the photos, sketches and other images, and of the written material quoted in this book, that has not always been straightforward or easy. Again, I would be happy to correct any errors or omissions in future editions.
Note: ‘Black girl.’ ‘Coloured.’ ‘Negro.’ ‘Wench.’ These and other terms in Agent Josephine may be found by readers today to be offensive, but they were the language used at the time. As this was the language used then, I have included such phraseology when quoting from the actual words used by the characters portrayed, or their writing, in an effort to relate this story as authentically as possible, remaining true to the time in which it took place. In doing so, I seek to reflect the realities of the age depicted and so as to avoid censoring history. We need to learn the vital lessons from the past. That being said, I have rendered the N-word as ‘n*****’, as readers may find it particularly troubling.
I like to think every book begins with a journey; a first step. This one has involved an exceptionally long and tortuous and at times challenging road. There are several reasons for this, and I go on to enumerate them in the section that follows, but much of it has to do with the fact that Josephine Baker and her fellow special agents operated wholly in the shadows during the Second World War, and in many ways they wished their wartime exploits to remain obfuscated thereafter. But for now, to start with, I’d like to tell the story of what first opened my eyes to Josephine Baker’s secret war – what set my feet firmly on the path.
My father and my stepmother, Lesley, live in France, in a beautiful medieval-era château that they purchased as a near-ruin with cattle still living in some of the buildings. Over the next several decades they renovated and restored it painstakingly – stone by stone, tile-by-tile and ornate carving by ornate carving. A labour of love. So ancient are the roots of the place, that some of the building-blocks have been reused from castles of an even greater vintage, from which medieval knights set forth to prosecute the Crusades. In some places, the huge stones boasting carvings of crucifixes or coats of arms or other heraldry have been reused in a somewhat haphazard fashion, for the building of this new – fifteenth-century! – château, such that they appear upside-down or skew-whiff, the writing or iconography seeming at first glance to be scrambled. A few of the carved building blocks even originate from the ruins of a Roman villa, and a bronze statue discovered in the grounds is now housed in the Louvre museum, in Paris.
Unsurprisingly, a love of châteaux – and of ancient history and of buildings of all types – runs deep in their blood. So it was that several years back they took a trip to the Dordogne and, among a number of visits to other historic sites, they decided to take a look around the Château des Milandes. Milandes – both the amazing, turreted château itself and the splendid gardens – is open to the public, and they went there expecting to enjoy a day immersed in the centuries-old history of the place, as expressed in the magic and majesty of limestone, slate, iron, oak and stained glass. They did indeed experience a day of magic and wonder, but not quite as they had anticipated.
Château des Milandes happened to be the wartime and post-war home of one of the most famous and highly paid female entertainers of the 1920s and ’30s, Josephine Baker. As a black American singer and dancer she had emigrated to France in the early 1920s, when still only nineteen years old, seeking fame and fortune. She would find it chiefly in Paris, from where she would become a global star of stage, screen and song. At first, in the early 1920s, she set Paris alight with her sexually charged, ‘exotic’, semi-naked dance routines, which both scandalised, provoked and captivated her audiences. But as the years progressed and her fame mushroomed – she was reputedly the most photographed woman in the world by the late 1920s – she matured into a singer, dancer and movie star with real gravitas. She gained superstar status and fabulous riches, and she was admired and courted by the wealthy, the famous and royalty alike. Just prior to the war she had made Château des Milandes her home, after Paris, and it has been preserved to this day as a fabulous memorial to her life and works.
But what most surprised both my father and Lesley during their visit was that Josephine Baker had also played a little-known, clandestine role during the war, as a sometime Resistance fighter and very possibly also a special agent or spy. Indeed, one entire wing of the château – the French Resistance Room, to them the most striking – is dedicated to displaying and showcasing the story of Josephine Baker’s war years. Of course, they had known of the star’s existence, but they had not known that she had carried out a series of daring wartime exploits that had earned for her no less than the Médaille de la Résistance avec Palme, the Croix de Guerre, and the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest decoration for civil or military service.
It would be an understatement to say that their interest was piqued, and shortly they reached out to me, for obvious reasons. In due course I took my family to visit, with my father and Lesley there to help guide us. To say we were captivated is an understatement. The château itself is enchanting, but its owner, Angélique de Saint-Exupéry, has done an incredible job in renovating the place and transforming it into a living memorial to Josephine Baker’s life and work. The day flew by, and as we spent the last hour exploring the château grounds – which are breathtaking – we were tailed everywhere by a black and white cat. My youngest daughter, who is a total sucker for animals, whether dogs, cats, rabbits, squirrels or whatever, promptly named the moggie ‘Patch’, and by the end of our visit she was carrying Patch everywhere.
At the exit, one of the charming young ladies who worked at the château asked us if the cat was ours. Surprised, we told her no, we presumed it lived at Milandes. No, she told us, it was a stray that had only just turned up. She was worried that the cat would get reported to the local vet, who would very likely have her destroyed. My daughter was distraught. We should adopt Patch, she insisted. Fathers cannot say no to daughters. It is an established fact. I told the young assistant that I would telephone her the following morning, and that if no one had come to claim Patch we would drive right over and fetch her. Of course, as fathers tend to, I had an ulterior motive: it would be an excuse for me to return to the château and spend a little longer in the French Resistance Room, studying more closely all the fantastic history it reveals.
As luck would have it, by the next morning Patch had been claimed. The interest of the Lewis family moved on: Patch would not after all be spirited to England, and there were other sites to see and adventures to be had. The Dordogne, it has to be said, is full of both. But my mind did not move on. It remained captivated by the story embodied in Château des Milandes. As I pondered it I found myself wrestling with a conundrum. How was it that a woman of such global renown could have ended up performing some sort of ‘grey’ role, serving as a spy in the Second World War? Surely, her very notoriety and fame militated against any such clandestine role. And surely, a woman of such unique and distinctive celebrity would have been the least likely candidate ever to spy for France, or for any of the Allies.
And so, as one tends to, I began to dig.
The story that emerged was simultaneously mysterious, tantalising and sensational. Josephine Baker had been born into poverty in St Louis, Missouri, in the American Midwest, a city that hugs the banks of the sluggish, meandering Mississippi River. She had left as soon as she was able, making her way to New York, seeking the limelight of the Broadway stage. But by her own account, prejudice – America was still prone to racial segregation and the so-called Jim Crow laws – held her back. In 1925 she had sailed for France, seeking to escape all of that, and very quickly she had captured the hearts of Parisians. She found France to be largely free of prejudice, as was wider Europe, at least in comparison to what she had experienced in the USA. Paris was the city that embraced her, that she fell in love with and made her home.
But then had come the rise of Nazi Germany. Josephine, who told many versions of her rags-to-riches life story, seemed to have little fixed, immutable past, or wider history, but by the late 1930s she had become transfixed by a burning hunger to fight and to defeat the threat emanating from Berlin. To her, the rise of Hitler, Goering and Eichmann, plus the Führer’s other henchmen, threatened all that she had come to believe in and all that she held dear. If the forces of Nazi Germany invaded, she would once again be forced to flee from prejudice and hatred. But where could she go, if the entire world was to be engulfed in the struggle for freedom, as seemed inevitable? Where would she run to next? Or should she choose instead to stay and to fight?
In truth, there was little debate in Josephine’s mind. She had always been a fighter, ever since she had packed her bags and left St Louis, with little or no idea of how she would make it in the world. She resolved that whatever the cost, whatever it might entail, she would stay and embrace the struggle. Of course, she had little idea what form the fight might take, and even less sense of how a black woman of such global renown could possibly play a role. That was until she was approached by a French intelligence agent called Captain Jacques Abtey, though he was not using his real name at the time. Abtey and his bosses at the Deuxième Bureau – an arm of what would be the equivalent of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), or the CIA – had a very clear sense of how Josephine might help fight the war of the shadows. It was exactly because she was so famous, instantly recognisable and universally loved – at least outside of Nazi circles – that she could serve such a potent role.
So it was that Josephine was recruited as an ‘Honourable Correspondent’ – what amounts to a voluntary, unpaid, freelance intelligence agent, or spy. So far, so good. But it was now that things began to get a little challenging, the road ahead less well-travelled or clearly defined. The story of Josephine Baker’s wartime exploits, and that of her closest fellows, her band of brothers – for almost exclusively she was surrounded by male spies and assorted male adventurers during the war – remained enigmatic and shrouded in mystery. I wondered why this was so? Why, when her life of stardom was so incredibly well publicised – there have been dozens of books written about Josephine Baker the superstar; thousands of media articles – did her wartime exploits remain so veiled in obscurity? It did not make a great deal of sense.
The deeper I dug, the more I began to detect answers; reasons. First, there was the wholesale destruction of wartime files that took place as France’s secret agencies, in a helter-skelter retreat from the advancing forces of the enemy, put to the torch tonnes of archives. When Paris was evacuated, prior to the June 1940 arrival of the enemy, hundreds of funeral pyres smouldered across the city, as the last of those sensitive papers were consumed by the flames. Then, those files that did remain were very often seized by the invading forces, and in many cases carted back to Germany, so they could be studied in detail, in an effort to ensure that Berlin won the intelligence war. And when the tide of war finally turned, and Germany itself was invaded by the Allies, much of what survived of those archives was seized by the Allies, often never to be returned. In the case of the Russians, the French were still trying to secure the return of the wartime papers of the Deuxième Bureau – that is, if they even still existed – many decades after the end of the war.1
Sadly, yet more wanton destruction took place immediately post-war, and very often because the secret agencies that proliferated in wartime weren’t seen as being needed – or indeed very much in favour – in a time of peace. As just one example, with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) – Churchill’s Ministry for Ungentlemanly Warfare, which was charged with waging clandestine war behind enemy lines – some 85 per cent of all their files were destroyed. With the British Special Air Service (SAS), which, like the SOE, was disbanded at war’s end, it is only due to a small miracle that any records survive today. There are numerous similar examples from wartime agencies across the Allied nations. And in the case of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, even if that agency’s wartime files have been preserved, the SIS has a blanket policy of absolute secrecy: nothing is ever released to the public, and it appears likely that nothing ever will be.
All of that being said, it is remarkable what actually has survived and is available to study. My search – my job of detective work, for that is exactly what it felt like – took me deep into the London National Archives, at Kew, where thankfully key wartime files have endured, including those concerning a smuggling fleet operated by His Majesty’s Government to run weapons, explosives, radios and secret agents to and from enemy-occupied lands, while at the same time smuggling illegal goods, and which quickly became a highly profitable, self-financing, blockade-busting intelligence-gathering operation. Extraordinary. If it featured in a James Bond novel it would be criticised as fanciful, but it is entirely true. It took me to one of the French equivalents of Kew, Le Service Historique de la Défense, which is housed in the vast and severe-seeming Château des Vincennes, where wartime files are secreted of such a sensitive nature that they would only be released in the final stages of my research, after more than seventy-five years had passed since they were sealed. Without having access to those archives, this story would have been exceedingly difficult to tell.
It took me to several Paris archives, and from there to municipal museums across France that memorialise the history of the French Resistance; to the Churchill Archives Centre, in Cambridge; to the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library archives at Yale; and to the archives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), an agency which itself collaborated with Josephine Baker and her fellows during the war, only to turn against her post-war. It took me to archives spread across Germany, and to an esteemed British professor of German and military history, and to an RSHA (Reich Security Main Office) internal telephone directory from the war years, which he insisted I should read. Plus it took me into the heart of the New York Mafia, who at the outbreak of the war had cut an ultra-secret deal with the American Government, codenamed Operation Underworld, to use the Mafia’s extensive criminal networks to aid the Allies’ cause. Again, quite extraordinary.
It took me to veterans of the conflict who had also fought and served in the war of the shadows; it took me to interview those who performed on stage with Josephine Baker and grew to know and love her, and to understand what made her so suited to a clandestine role. It took me to the sons and daughters of the key characters who made up Josephine Baker’s shadow army – French, American and British – to hear from them the stories of those who had served in a knife-edge battle waged in the depths of fear, wherein betrayal, capture, torture and death were only ever one step away. Finally, it took me to the private family archives of one of the war’s foremost SIS agents, who was also one of the chief models for Ian Fleming’s James Bond, a man whose wartime exploits would once again be considered as fantastical fiction, if they weren’t 100 per cent true, and whose role in Josephine Baker’s wartime story is utterly captivating.
It took me to requesting that files be opened that were never going to be opened, or not for a good while anyway: some of these secrets remain just that – secrets which are not yet ripe for the telling, or at least not as far as those in power are concerned. It took me through a series of seemingly wild goose chases, where I knew the files I wanted existed and were supposedly open to the public, but where no official actually seemed able to place their hands upon them. It compelled me to open and keep rigorous records of several dozen files of my own research – shelves groaning under the load – as I tried to piece together, to fathom, to cross-reference and to elucidate the story of Josephine Baker’s war. Repeatedly, I had to sift fact from fiction and to flush out the deliberate obfuscations that have taken place concerning much of the war in France – including Josephine’s story – which of course pitted French men and women against each other, turning Resistance fighter against collaborator against special agent against soldier against spy. Much of this history remains raw and controversial and disputed to this day. Much remains inconvenient and unsaid.
- “Damien Lewis chronicles [Josephine Baker] with much fresh detail… What most beguiles us today is the sense that a proud revolutionary lurked beneath the winsome savage, the snowy smile. Spycraft wasn’t so much what Baker did as who she was.”—The New Yorker
- “Mr. Lewis is a prolific author of wartime histories and novels…Agent Josephine is a fascinating story, thoroughly researched and richly detailed…written in the breathless style of a thriller.”—Wall Street Journal
- “Damien Lewis journeyed down the rabbit hole of arcane European archives to piece together the elusive tale of Josephine Baker’s French espionage service during World War II. The result, which evokes the sensuous glamour of Baker’s expatriate superstardom, is 400 pages of bravery and heroism that read like a spy novel you can’t put down.”—Vanity Fair
- “[E]ntertaining… Mr Lewis has researched his story thoroughly over the course of a decade, and tells it like a fast-paced spy thriller.”—The Economist
- “Lewis writes with a flair for hard-boiled drama, sharing insights into the clandestine world of espionage and its nests of expert, aristocratic spymasters; hard-living, shrewd field agents; and debonair mafiosos with their hideous henchmen…. Agent Josephine is a wonderful addition to the canon of World War II stories.”—Shelf Awareness
- “In the compelling ‘Agent Josephine: American Beauty, French Hero, British Spy,’ Damien Lewis sheds light on the performer’s remarkable espionage work, demonstrating that Baker’s global fame often provided the perfect cover for her perilous clandestine activities.”—Christian Science Monitor
- “Lovers of glamor, history, and intrigue will love this biography of Josephine Baker."—St. Louis Magazine
- “Lewis provides a rollicking, energetic commentary on Baker’s adventures.”—Booklist, *starred review*
- “Fascinating and riveting. What a story! It has never been told properly, if ever, before now. I know Josephine would be very proud of how she is portrayed.”—Jean-Pierre Reggiori, Josephine Baker’s dance partner
- “Damien Lewis’s ten years of research into Josephine Baker’s world as an operative for the allies during WWII takes her story to new heights. Escaping from the legend of a scantily clad singer/dancer who entertained the world, wartime Agent Josephine shines as bright as a beacon, shimmering with defiance, fierce in loyalty to her adopted France, and fully engaged in the collection and passage of intelligence. The love story that serves as a backdrop to her exploits resonates profoundly.”—Jonna Mendez, author of The Moscow Rules
- “Astonishing. Exhilarating. Agent Josephine captures the indomitable spirit of Josephine Baker. Under the dark skies of WWII, Josephine stared down the German occupation of France to become a master spy, risking her life in service of the French Resistance and the British Secret Intelligence Services—all while expressing the depth and wholeness of her character as a loyal friend and captivating entertainer. Working beyond the limits of endurance, she inspired diplomats, statesmen, spies, Moroccan Berber chieftains and battalions of allied troops to fight the Nazis and their ideals. Josephine’s odyssey calls to the resilience and creative tenacity that hides within all of us and bursts forth in the souls of a chosen few in extreme circumstances. Gripping as a thriller and superbly written. Everyone should read it.”—Scott Lenga, author of The Watchmakers
- “An eye-opening, pulse-quickening, richly-written history (and if Hitchcock was around today, he would be jostling to make the film). Josephine Baker led a wartime double life of extraordinary jeopardy: in public, a hugely-loved world-famous stage star; in the shadows, a formidably courageous secret agent fighting Nazis for the resistance and for MI6. Lewis’s needle-sharp narrative—swooping from the valleys of France to the exquisite palaces of north Africa, patterned with nerve-tautening escapes, betrayals, romance and near-death encounters, amid vividly conjured landscapes—is jagged with suspense. Yet he also writes with great warmth and sensitivity, creating a powerfully moving portrait of a woman who fought prejudice and hate in all its forms.”—Sinclair McKay, author of Dresden and Berlin
- “Damien Lewis has devoted considerable time and diligent research to revealing the real Josephine Baker.”—Book Reporter
- “Rather than crafting a conventional biography, Lewis concentrates on the wartime years, creating a heroic portrait of the selfless, brave, somewhat reckless, pioneering, unswervingly patriotic spy for the Allies…A complex, entertaining story of intrigue and sangfroid involving a beloved, courageous hero.”—Kirkus
- “A thrilling espionage story.”—Publishers Weekly, *starred review*
- On Sale
- Jul 11, 2023
- Page Count
- 512 pages