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Lonely Courage

The true story of the SOE heroines who fought to free Nazi-occupied France

‘A fascinating, superbly researched and revelatory book – told with tremendous pace and excitement’ William Boyd
‘Rick Stroud writes brilliantly about war … an astonishing book … a wonderful story’ Ben Macintyre
'Enthralling, edge-of-smart exciting and also heart-breaking...Stroud's book is a reminder and fitting testimony to their immense bravery' James Holland

On 18 June 1940 General de Gaulle broadcast from London to his countrymen in France about the catastrophe that had overtaken their nation – the victory of the invading Germans. He declared: ‘The flame of French Resistance must not and will not be extinguished.' The Resistance began almost immediately. At first it was made up of small, disorganised groups working in isolation. But by the time of the liberation in 1944 around 400,000 French citizens, nearly 2 per cent of the population, were involved.

The Special Operations Executive (SOE) set up by Winston Churchill in 1941 saw its role in France as helping the Resistance by recruiting and organising guerrilla fighters; supplying and training them; and then disrupting the invaders by any means necessary. The aim of this work was to prepare for the invasion of Europe by Allied forces and the eventual liberation of France. It was soon decided that women would play a vital role.

There were 39 female agents recruited from all walks of life, ranging from a London shop assistant to a Polish aristocrat. They all knew France well, were fluent in French and were prepared to sacrifice everything. The women trained alongside the men, learning how to disappear into the background, how to operate a radio transmitter and how to kill a man with their bare hands. Once trained, they were infiltrated behind the lines; some went on to lead thousands of Resistance fighters, while others were arrested, brutally interrogated and sent to concentration camps.  

Lonely Courage tells their remarkable story and sheds new light on what life was really like for these brave women.

Rick Stroud is a producer, director and writer. His most recent book, Lonely Courage: The True Story of the SOE Heroines who Fought to Free Nazi-Occupied France (Simon & Schuster, 2017), has been optioned by Tessa Ross at House Productions and he is the author of several other books. He is a trustee of the London Library and lives in London.

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (October 1, 2018)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471155666

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‘A fascinating, superbly researched and revelatory book – told with tremendous pace and excitement

– William Boyd

‘This compelling and complete account of the extraordinarily courageous women of SOE is at turns enthralling, edge-of-the-seat exciting and also heart-breaking. The way in which they were sent into Nazi-occupied Europe and left to face unspeakable danger remains astonishing and Stroud's book is a reminder and fitting testimony to their immense bravery’

– James Holland

‘Stroud has a storyteller’s eye for human detail matched with a researcher’s diligence.’

 

– Independent on Sunday

‘Each of the lives that Stroud relates so well offers a shining example of heroism – dauntless, patriotic readiness to risk everything for the cause of human decency.’ 

– Nigel Jones, Sunday Telegraph

‘In this superb book, Rick Stroud honours their awe-inspiring bravery and self-sacrifice by telling their stories with an historian’s attention to detail and a novelist’s empathy and sense of drama… it is a pacy chronological account…  vividly and concisely delivered by a writer with an encyclopaedic knowledge of World War Two.’ 

– Rebecca McQuillan, The Herald

Written with genuine vigour, this book pays tribute to truly outstanding female bravery...this is a book that lingers in the mind long after the last page’  

– Elizabeth Fitzherbert, The Lady

'A gripping narrative'

– Marcus Binney, Country Life

'Fascinating ... a hugely engaging account, that weaves the women’s stories together with increasing momentum towards its poignant conclusion.’

– Clare Mulley, Spectator

'A timely and important book...we are in awe of their courage'

– Alan Ogden

'Superbly written

– Elizabeth Buchan