This Week’s Book Review – Code Name: Lise

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday.

Book Review

“Code Name: Lise” reads like a thriller and a romance, yet is solid history

By MARK LARDAS

Apr 9, 2019

“Code Name: Lise, The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy,” by Larry Loftis, Gallery Books, 2019, 385 pages, $27

On July 16, 1940, Winston Churchill began an effort to “set Europe ablaze,” creating the Special Operations Executive to strike at Nazi Germany from within Occupied Europe — the nations conquered by Germany. One of the agents recruited to infiltrate into France was Odette Sampson, a married mother of three.

“Code Name: Lise, The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy,” by Larry Loftis tells her story.

Sampson was born in France, but had moved to Britain between World War I and II after marrying an Englishman. She wanted to do her bit for Britain after France fell in June 1940, and offered her services. She thought she could be useful as a translator. Instead, as Loftis shows, the SOE saw her as a perfect agent to infiltrate into occupied France. They convinced her to do so, leaving her children with relatives in Britain.

Assigned to the SPINDLE network, she served in Southern France, then run by the German-friendly Vichy government. She was a courier, carrying messages, money, and munitions to other agents. Women could move more freely than men.

She proved competent, gaining the trust and admiration of the network’s leader, Peter Churchill. Danger brought the two together. Their relationship passed from admiration to love, although neither acted on their inclinations while active agents.

In turn, the SPINDLE network was being tracked by Hugo Bleicher, a sergeant in the Geheime Feldpolitzei. He proved outstanding at counterespionage, successfully turning one SPINDLE agent and rolling up the network. He captured Sampson and Churchill as they attempted to escape to Switzerland.

When captured, Sampson claimed she was married to Churchill and that he was related to the British Prime Minister. Both claims were false. The Germans believed it, and ultimately it kept the two from being executed due to their “hostage” value. They also were sheltered and fostered by Bleicher, an oddly humane counterspy.

Loftis follows the story from its origins through the end of the lives of the participants, well after the war’s end. “Code Name: Lise” reads like a thriller and a romance, yet is solid history.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.

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Macron Addresses the Nation, Says Nothing

Amidst rioting which continues to spread across France, and has become much more a sign of general dissatisfaction than a specific protest over fuel taxes, French President Emmanuel Macron made a nationwide televised address today.  Here is a version with English translation from France 24 English.

He spoke for thirteen minutes, which I can summarise as “blah, blah, blah”.

He’s going to raise the minimum wage (that’s sure to help!), encourage employers to pay year-end bonuses which will not be taxed, make overtime tax free, and—wait for it—ask large enterprises and and the wealthy to “contribute”.  And he wants to “discuss” immigration and identity.

I’m sure the gliets jaunes will be immediately mollified and go home to watch football.

Hey, it worked for Louis XVI.

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Poles on Twitter Distribute Scenes of French Protests

Poles are among those following the protests, riots, and police in action in France, and retweeting film clips made on the scene.  One such is “Based Poland.”

I thought to copy and paste the URL to a particular tweet containing video of ranks of kneeling high-school students in a police enclosure.  This is my first attempt at this move; apologies if it fails.  The Preview includes the URL.

(Had I chosen “Embed this Tweet,” instead of “Copy the URL,” would I then have had to switch to Text Mode?)

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