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

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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 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 attachés 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.


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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 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 attachés 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.

30 review for The Last Goodnight: A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure & Betrayal

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Forsyth

    "This is a true story," Howard Blum writes in the foreword to his biography of Betty Pack, a spy in World War II. I should have trusted my tingling Spidey-sense and just put the book down right then. What follows over the next 500 pages is a regrettable attempt to tell the reader what people were thinking and tell a history through absolutes. Ms. Pack is a fascinating (and often despicable) character, but there is a discernible lack of critical analysis of the source materials on display here. M "This is a true story," Howard Blum writes in the foreword to his biography of Betty Pack, a spy in World War II. I should have trusted my tingling Spidey-sense and just put the book down right then. What follows over the next 500 pages is a regrettable attempt to tell the reader what people were thinking and tell a history through absolutes. Ms. Pack is a fascinating (and often despicable) character, but there is a discernible lack of critical analysis of the source materials on display here. Mr. Blum writes for Vanity Fair, and this book displays the kind of breathless reporting that publication is sometimes raked over the coals for. But even if this book was classified as fiction, it still suffers from some odd storytelling choices. The book goes back and forth between Betty's spy adventures and her reliving them to an author friend of hers, and the payoff for this framing device feels obligatory and unearned. Only amateur historians and die-hard espionage enthusiasts need apply - Ben Macintyre this ain't.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cold War Conversations Podcast

    The “Mata Hari from Minnesota If you’ve never heard of Betty Pack, then neither had I until I read this book. It’s a fascinating story of an American born British diplomat’s wife who was hailed by OSS chief General “Wild Bill" Donovan as “the greatest unsung heroine of the war.” She seduced and at times fell in love with her targets as she obtained secrets from Polish Officers, Italian Officers and Vichy French diplomats. Howard Blum, through access to recently unclassified files discovers the trut The “Mata Hari from Minnesota If you’ve never heard of Betty Pack, then neither had I until I read this book. It’s a fascinating story of an American born British diplomat’s wife who was hailed by OSS chief General “Wild Bill" Donovan as “the greatest unsung heroine of the war.” She seduced and at times fell in love with her targets as she obtained secrets from Polish Officers, Italian Officers and Vichy French diplomats. Howard Blum, through access to recently unclassified files discovers the truth about the attractive blond, codenamed “Cynthia,” whose missions ranged from the Spanish Civil War to obtaining Polish notebooks that proved key to Alan Turing’s success in breaking the enigma codes. His writing reads like a novel, but he backs up his work with extensive references. Blum’s book is also the sad tale of a troubled woman unable to form deep emotional connections, resulting in estrangement from her children and her immediate family. A fascinating read and a great tribute to a brave and amazing woman whose work alone may well have shortened World War 2. I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I struggled through this book thinking with such a decent Goodreads rating it must be me. This wasn't a biography so much as a tabloid recounting of a woman who jumped in bed with pretty much anyone and was constantly finding herself pregnant. Don't waste your time with this one, there are too many great books out there on WW 2 that aren't this one! I struggled through this book thinking with such a decent Goodreads rating it must be me. This wasn't a biography so much as a tabloid recounting of a woman who jumped in bed with pretty much anyone and was constantly finding herself pregnant. Don't waste your time with this one, there are too many great books out there on WW 2 that aren't this one!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    I cannot vouch for the veracity of this book. The author certainly takes interpretive liberties. But it is a fascinating read. Now I must take other reviewers to task. Many reviews are making a big deal about Betty's morals and her willingness to use men and use sex to further her own ends. They like to point out that she was not very involved with her children. This is just blatant sexism. In almost all of her trysts she was a mistress. Men back then had mistresses. Also, many men abandoned the I cannot vouch for the veracity of this book. The author certainly takes interpretive liberties. But it is a fascinating read. Now I must take other reviewers to task. Many reviews are making a big deal about Betty's morals and her willingness to use men and use sex to further her own ends. They like to point out that she was not very involved with her children. This is just blatant sexism. In almost all of her trysts she was a mistress. Men back then had mistresses. Also, many men abandoned their families for the sake of their intelligence and military careers. And men left their families to throw their bodies at Nazi and Japanese fire. So what if Betty used her sexual powers? It's not as if men were not using deception on a mass basis to con young soldiers into signing up and subjecting themselves to enemy fire. Criticizing Betty for her choices without criticizing the men who handled her is like criticizing sex workers without taking into account all of their male customers. I agree that this book could have taken on a more critical stance. But that was not the book the author set out to write. It's a book that straddles the line between fiction and non-fiction. It's a book that attempts to re-set our perspective on who the heroes of WWII were. It does its job well.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Elliott

    I struggled to give this book two stars. The writing got better as it went but it started off as if the author had never seen an adjective he didn't like. After reading the book I read several reviews most of them really good. I don't agree with them. Sorry, I don't think she's a hero. Much of the complicated world of espionage goes beyond pretty girl meets important diplomat, seduces him in the afternoon, sleeps with him in the evening, he gives her the important information she needs. That's p I struggled to give this book two stars. The writing got better as it went but it started off as if the author had never seen an adjective he didn't like. After reading the book I read several reviews most of them really good. I don't agree with them. Sorry, I don't think she's a hero. Much of the complicated world of espionage goes beyond pretty girl meets important diplomat, seduces him in the afternoon, sleeps with him in the evening, he gives her the important information she needs. That's pretty much how the book reads. On only two occasions did she receive information that she acquired through not sleeping with someone and even then she slept with someone to get access. Sorry, I'm really struggling to believe it was that easy. We should have sent this woman over to meet Hitler, she could of stopped the war by the next morning! I read a lot of WWII history and a lot of espionage and this book makes it seem that Bletchley Park, the Polish enigma mathemeticians and several other important code breakers were unnecessary. The list of spy heroics attributed to Betty are simply unbelievable. The way she easily manipulated each and every man she came into contact who had information she needed is even more unbelievable. On only one occasion does she experience regret for sleeping with someone. I agree with others that there are many regretful incidences in her life--constant infidelity, child abandonment, and many others and the things that are attributed to her to justify it seem to me to be a stretch. I hope I'm wrong and she was responsible for all the informational coups that are attributed to her but I don't think even they can justify her actions. Having said that, I wish I would have skipped this book. There are many more heroic and credible stories to tell about the war.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Hello, fun summer read. Putting aside my quibbles about this book – let’s just say Mr. Blum’s note in the beginning about the thin line between fact and fiction is an understatement – this is a flat-out fun book to read. I mean, come on! It’s about a socialite who becomes a spy during World War II! And she’s totally cool with using sex as a way to gather intelligence! And there’s a wonderful lack of preachy morals about the ethics of what she’s doing! She loves what she does, doesn’t see the prob Hello, fun summer read. Putting aside my quibbles about this book – let’s just say Mr. Blum’s note in the beginning about the thin line between fact and fiction is an understatement – this is a flat-out fun book to read. I mean, come on! It’s about a socialite who becomes a spy during World War II! And she’s totally cool with using sex as a way to gather intelligence! And there’s a wonderful lack of preachy morals about the ethics of what she’s doing! She loves what she does, doesn’t see the problem with it, and let’s move on with the story. But this is one of those non-fiction reads that will probably be best enjoyed (especially by history nerds) if viewed more as fiction heavily influenced by actual events. Parts of feel too slick, doubly so in cases when the only sources are those involved in the events, to leave me confident the events as told are not heavily embellished. Overall, though, this is pretty close to my idea of a perfect summer non-fiction read: it seems serious but reads like a breeze and is just the right amount of sensationalist. Recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Terry Pechner

    Howard Blum, a New York Times Bestselling author and an Edgar Award recipient, has written several nonfiction works, his latest being “The Last Goodnight”. Blum has that rare gift of writing that takes a memoir or biography and creates a story that reads with the enjoyment of a fictional novel. There are just too many reasons to recommend this book. It was a pleasure to read on many levels; it was engaging, historically revealing, and full of intrigue. Our heroine, Betty Thorpe Pack, is as unlik Howard Blum, a New York Times Bestselling author and an Edgar Award recipient, has written several nonfiction works, his latest being “The Last Goodnight”. Blum has that rare gift of writing that takes a memoir or biography and creates a story that reads with the enjoyment of a fictional novel. There are just too many reasons to recommend this book. It was a pleasure to read on many levels; it was engaging, historically revealing, and full of intrigue. Our heroine, Betty Thorpe Pack, is as unlikely a spy as ever there was, and yet she is not. Over time it becomes clear that some spies do not choose their craft, it chooses them. She has all the assets that allow her to flourish in her missions – a keen mind, steely nerves, a finely tuned power of observation, and the uncanny ability to identify a valuable asset for mining. She travels in all the right circles as a British ambassador’s wife, she is beautiful, and very adept at using her charm to her advantage – a bit like a female James Bond. Betty Thorpe Pack, the spy and hero you never heard of, provided invaluable information to both Britain's MI6 and America's OSS during World War II. She undoubtedly risked her life for her country and Britain, because surprisingly, she is an American citizen. It is the beginning of WWII, and America is not involved in the war yet, and would definitely frown on her spying for a foreign government. Her recruitment started out innocent enough, she provided information she overheard to the British embassy staff. She is asked to continue to provide whatever info she might hear, no matter how small or insignificant. She is patiently watched. Not only does she continue to provide valuable Intel, she exceeds all expectations and is meticulous in her reports. She realizes that this is just what her staid life needs - a cause, a “Raison d’Etre”, and the excitement it provides. There is no doubt about it, Betty is a complicated person. On the one hand she will do anything to provide information to Britain that can save lives and shorten the war effort. On the other hand, she ignores her personal responsibilities to her husband, children, and parents. She is treacherously unfaithful in her marriage, and manipulates others to her own end. Sometimes I was left wondering if Betty pursued this life because of the adventures or because of her loyalty to her country. It is left to the reader to decide about their feelings for Betty… The saving grace is that this is war time, and ignoring her own personal safety, Betty truly does prove herself to be a heroine. She provided information that resulted in Britain obtaining an Enigma machine, information that saved valuable war time assets from being scuttled, and information that saved thousands of lives in Britain and America’s war campaign in Africa. This book made an impact on me, not just carried me away to a different place and time. It made me realize the sacrifices that some made during the war so that we can live a democratic way of life. In the end, I am thankful to men and women like Betty who took the risk, and grateful to read a book that reveals some hidden history about a daring and patriotic woman, Betty Thorpe Pack. I look forward to reading more of Mr. Blum’s other books…

  8. 4 out of 5

    Candy

    This is the story of World War II spy, Betty Pack, codenamed Cynthia. Betty was born Amy Elizabeth Thorpe on November 22, 1910, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Betty was meant to be a spy. She was certainly masterful in the art of deception, and had no compunction about using people to gain the information she was after. Betty’s father was a distinguished U.S. Marine Corps officer and her mother’s life mission was to further the family, and her children, in society. She entertained lavishly, and her d This is the story of World War II spy, Betty Pack, codenamed Cynthia. Betty was born Amy Elizabeth Thorpe on November 22, 1910, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Betty was meant to be a spy. She was certainly masterful in the art of deception, and had no compunction about using people to gain the information she was after. Betty’s father was a distinguished U.S. Marine Corps officer and her mother’s life mission was to further the family, and her children, in society. She entertained lavishly, and her dinner guests included the vice president. Betty, however, wasn’t having any of that. She was pregnant by one man, but chose another, Arthur Pack, to be her husband. Pack was with the British embassy, and perhaps Betty saw marriage to him as a way to travel the world. They never loved each other, and she seemed to barely tolerate him later in life. Betty’s son was born, and it was determined to be best that a foster family raise him as Arthur was being sent to Spain. Once in Spain, Betty is still presumably sleeping with her husband, she has a lover, and is also sleeping with a priest who is helping her convert to Catholicism! That’s right. You can’t make this stuff up. Her lover is imprisoned, and she leaves her husband and a second child, Denise, to try and free her lover. Well, she frees a marquis along the way, and ends up being recruited as a spy for MI6. Betty loved the intrigue. She would seduce men, become their lover, and elicit all manner of secrets. She was quite effective at her job, and even after some men found out they had been played and she didn’t love them, they were heartbroken that the relationship ended. They weren’t heartbroken over the fact that she didn’t love them and just used them. They would have waited the remainder of their lives for her. Betty was credited with obtaining valuable ciphers, codes and secrets that helped the Allies immensely and changed the course of the war. Betty was never troubled by her actions, until later in life when she was facing her own mortality and examining her life. Like I said, she was meant to be a spy. https://candysplanet.wordpress.com

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katie Hamilton

    Bored with the narrative and irritated by her emotionless prowess, I found Betty's story to be prolonged and unengaging. Initially the concept of this story intrigued me, but I was soon disappointed by underwhelming character development and writing. I discovered a few interesting historical tidbits here and there, but it was not enough to save this story. Bored with the narrative and irritated by her emotionless prowess, I found Betty's story to be prolonged and unengaging. Initially the concept of this story intrigued me, but I was soon disappointed by underwhelming character development and writing. I discovered a few interesting historical tidbits here and there, but it was not enough to save this story.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this non-fiction spy story is that the protagonist who "changed the course of WW2" is not a familiar character to most of us. Betty Pack? Who? I primarily read fiction, so it may be unfair of me to judge this dynamic woman's story by the same standards I would a novel. But, as much of a page-turner as it was at points, and as fascinating as it was to learn of this daring woman's exploits (on behalf of Great Britain), I found the stories repetitious. Target m Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this non-fiction spy story is that the protagonist who "changed the course of WW2" is not a familiar character to most of us. Betty Pack? Who? I primarily read fiction, so it may be unfair of me to judge this dynamic woman's story by the same standards I would a novel. But, as much of a page-turner as it was at points, and as fascinating as it was to learn of this daring woman's exploits (on behalf of Great Britain), I found the stories repetitious. Target man; exploit man; move on. Betty Pack was apparently "a stunner." And, to accomplish the feats that Howard Blum attributes to her, she must have been a show-stopper. I have met many beautiful women in my life, and many very smart women, but I can't think of a soul whom I've encountered who could have managed to captivate and deceive so many men. Thus, my fascination with the story. It would be very interesting to hear some first hand reports about Betty Pack from men and women who knew her (not a single female friend is ever mentioned in this book---nor any other friends who were not work-related). The book really attempted to sort out the psychology of the woman who could use other people with such alacrity and have virtually no regard for her

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This story of Betty Pack, who worked for British Intelligence during the Second World War and was apparently instrumental in achieving important intelligence coups, is notable mostly because Mrs. Pack was so immoral--she was the ultimate Honey Trap, with no scruples and no inhibitions about the manner of or men with whom she plyed her trade. The author thinks the war could have been lost without her, and perhaps that is true, but it is difficult and perhaps not worthwhile to read of her repeated This story of Betty Pack, who worked for British Intelligence during the Second World War and was apparently instrumental in achieving important intelligence coups, is notable mostly because Mrs. Pack was so immoral--she was the ultimate Honey Trap, with no scruples and no inhibitions about the manner of or men with whom she plyed her trade. The author thinks the war could have been lost without her, and perhaps that is true, but it is difficult and perhaps not worthwhile to read of her repeated seductions of weak men, even though she was brave and smart about it. While motivated in part by patriotism, she seems to have been motivated mostly by the boredom of life without constant excitement and danger, and seems to have gone beyond the point where she could not rationalize any immoral choice at a very early age. The author's use of a frame for the story seems like an unnecessary device. The book is thoroughly researched and has extensive notes. I can only guess what the title has to do with the book. Again, even though I finished the book, I cannot recommend it as a worthwhile or enlightening read for anyone.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kara Neal

    This was interesting from a psychological viewpoint. While reading, I did my best to understand what would compel this woman to make the choices she did. Although in my opinion it read more like historical fiction than nonfiction, I like historical fiction well enough, and was intrigued by this real person whom I'd never heard of before. Some of the accounts seem quite farfetched. Frankly, this book was morally offensive. Unsung heroine of the war?! Readers, this woman was a shameless hussy, alw This was interesting from a psychological viewpoint. While reading, I did my best to understand what would compel this woman to make the choices she did. Although in my opinion it read more like historical fiction than nonfiction, I like historical fiction well enough, and was intrigued by this real person whom I'd never heard of before. Some of the accounts seem quite farfetched. Frankly, this book was morally offensive. Unsung heroine of the war?! Readers, this woman was a shameless hussy, always looking to fill her own longing for adventure. At times it may have served her own or her adopted country's political interests, but her actions seemed to me to be mostly self-serving. This book seemed more fictional bodice-ripper than serious nonfiction due to the inclusion of far more graphic details than I consider necessary. Mata Hari of Minnesota? More like the town pump!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Wagner

    I nearly didn't finish this book. It wasn't until the middle of the book that the story really started to move, but prior to that, we were introduced to a very self-centered, self-serving female. Yes, she helped the Allied cause, but it wasn't for a sense of duty to her country, because it wasn't until much later that she became an American agent. It was for the adventure and the sex and the thrill of manipulating men. The writer made sure we new that no man was immune to her beauty and charm - I nearly didn't finish this book. It wasn't until the middle of the book that the story really started to move, but prior to that, we were introduced to a very self-centered, self-serving female. Yes, she helped the Allied cause, but it wasn't for a sense of duty to her country, because it wasn't until much later that she became an American agent. It was for the adventure and the sex and the thrill of manipulating men. The writer made sure we new that no man was immune to her beauty and charm - not even her priest! Within minutes of meeting her, every man she came into contact with was apparently ready to divorce their wives and/or quit their jobs and/or move across the world for her. She tossed aside her children, her husband, and her country for thrill and adventure. If this book was meant to garnish admiration for her, it failed miserably, at least for me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Peggie

    This is a biography of a femme fatale whose natural inclinations to take the moral low ground fitted her perfectly for a life of between-the-sheets espionage. A lifetime of wooings and betrayals, even of her best beloveds and her own children, is chronicled here. As the subject of a biography, I suppose she is a captivating character, and she really did deliver indispensable material to the British government during WWII. But I got a little tired of reading tale after tale of her too-predictable This is a biography of a femme fatale whose natural inclinations to take the moral low ground fitted her perfectly for a life of between-the-sheets espionage. A lifetime of wooings and betrayals, even of her best beloveds and her own children, is chronicled here. As the subject of a biography, I suppose she is a captivating character, and she really did deliver indispensable material to the British government during WWII. But I got a little tired of reading tale after tale of her too-predictable manipulations of nearly every man in her life. Why did I keep reading? Maybe in her engrossing way, she also charmed me into trying to figure her out. In the end, the story was well told, but the book could have been much shorter.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    The title of this book intrigued me more than the actual read of the book. While I understand that being a spy to the years leading up to WWII was an exciting and dangerous job, the details of the life Betty Pack lived are mainly the author's imagined account of how Betty lived her life. While no doubt exciting to her, it was also so heartbreaking as she left behind a husband, abandoned her daughter, and gave a son up as well. While she may have considered her life exciting, to me it was sad wha The title of this book intrigued me more than the actual read of the book. While I understand that being a spy to the years leading up to WWII was an exciting and dangerous job, the details of the life Betty Pack lived are mainly the author's imagined account of how Betty lived her life. While no doubt exciting to her, it was also so heartbreaking as she left behind a husband, abandoned her daughter, and gave a son up as well. While she may have considered her life exciting, to me it was sad what she gave up to be one of WWII's Allied spies.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Nudo

    Ugh. My favorite genre is historical fiction. Esp. during WW1 and WW2 and involving those who fought in the Resistance. So I thought this book sounded amazing. It is written well enough, but the main character was such an annoying character I could not finish (and I rarely give up on a book). Her interest in espionage was completely self-serving, and she was constantly being pulled this way and that by the next shiny object. What a bore.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Svriddick

    Tried to read this. I love WW II stories and spy stories in general. This one was just so poorly written and the main real-life character so unlikeable that I didn't get very far. Tried to read this. I love WW II stories and spy stories in general. This one was just so poorly written and the main real-life character so unlikeable that I didn't get very far.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Becky Loader

    If I had read this book as a fictional accounting, I would have found it hard to believe. As non-fiction, it is also hard to believe.

  19. 5 out of 5

    thewanderingjew

    The Last Goodnight, Howard Blum, author, Tristan Morris, narrator Between two wars, history and biography merge into what seems to be Betty Pack’s playpen. Born into wealth, Elizabeth Thorpe, was also the daughter of an Admiral. She was a square peg in a round hole, born out of step with her time. She defied current mores with abandon and did not pursue the life her parents wanted for her. Rather she, an independent female who wrote a novel at age 11, became a force in the world of espionage. She The Last Goodnight, Howard Blum, author, Tristan Morris, narrator Between two wars, history and biography merge into what seems to be Betty Pack’s playpen. Born into wealth, Elizabeth Thorpe, was also the daughter of an Admiral. She was a square peg in a round hole, born out of step with her time. She defied current mores with abandon and did not pursue the life her parents wanted for her. Rather she, an independent female who wrote a novel at age 11, became a force in the world of espionage. She was precocious from childhood and was rarely satisfied with what life offered her and always sought more. She wanted excitement, diverse experience, and she wanted sexual relationships. She was skilled at manipulating people to do her bidding which made her very successful as a spy. She found it easy to encourage men to follow her down a path that was often dangerous and treasonous for them. Although men seemed drawn to her, her own personal relationship with marriage, motherhood and family life failed. She had little desire to be either faithful or maternal. Although she was born in America, she felt more loyal to Great Britain where she lived a good deal of her life. While living in Spain during their Civil War, with her diplomat husband, Arthur Pack, she did secret work for the British, but also helped Franco. She supported the fascists while she spied for the British on the other side. She often supported which ever cause she was drawn to by her emotions. At that time, it was very unusual for a woman to even be involved in espionage, but she gained her reputation during those years when she helped the Crown. She was willing to take risks to satisfy their demands and to use her body in ways other women might justifiably have refused. As World War II raged, Betty’s help was enlisted once again. She was ready and willing to jump right into the fray. A true jezebel, code named Cynthia, she was unafraid to use her body and her wiles to attract assets and inspire them to betray their country to help her; she used her femininity to create a network of spies to obtain vital secrets about Hitler’s and Mussolini’s plans which she passed on to the British. It often helped them to turn the tide of war. She was an unsung hero and remains largely one today. Betty abandoned house, husband, family, morals and all aspects of a normal life in order to be involved in the world of espionage. She loved the excitement and the idea of hopping from one bed to another in various romantic liaisons to gain secret information. She hobnobbed with the rich and famous, with influential people in America and in Europe, and no one was off limits to her feminine talents and powers of persuasion. When we meet her in the book, she is reunited with a man she has not seen for three decades. He, down and out, wishes to write a book about her past life. She is only too eager to do so. She is still attractive and desirable. As she relates her life to him, the reader learns that she secured the release of prisoners, obtained hard to get medical supplies, secured secret codes which helped the allies anticipate the movements of the enemies, and exhibited bravery in the face of danger. She rarely turned down an assignment. Still the book seems to be mostly about her making herself a mattress. It often became tedious as she jumped from bed to bed, but that does not take away from the courage she showed in the face of great danger when she needed to accomplish a task she was given. Today, with social media, I think her behavior would have been outed, as she flagrantly came between husbands and wives, flirted and tempted, taunted and cajoled many men to come to her aid and commit treasonous acts for her sake. She was described as a “honeypot”. She even corrupted the morals of a priest who was willing to give up the cloth for her. For her part, she was not interested in a permanent relationship, she only wanted information that she could pass on. She listened to the men who confided in her with pillow talk. Her excellent memory enabled her to expertly work her tradecraft and pass on their information to her handlers. While I did not always agree with her ideology, I had to admire her spunk, independence and courage in a time when most women were shrinking violets. Although her life and the history were very interesting, the book seemed largely like a romance novel about a woman who might justifiably be called a nymphomaniac. Sometimes it did not seem like a biography, but rather like chick lit.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Frances Whited

    Howard Blum seems to have been quite conflicted about his subject. There is more than a little slut-shaming in his descriptions of Betty Pack's behavior. Towards the conclusion of the book, he musters up some grudging respect for her, but the overall finger-wagging tone of the book left a bad taste in my mouth. Howard Blum seems to have been quite conflicted about his subject. There is more than a little slut-shaming in his descriptions of Betty Pack's behavior. Towards the conclusion of the book, he musters up some grudging respect for her, but the overall finger-wagging tone of the book left a bad taste in my mouth.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sean Lynn

    If this weren't a true story, it would seem like a contrived spy thriller where a special agent Betty Pack uses her feminine wiles, to charm, beguile, and seduce secrets from the enemy. Betty Pack, however, was a real person, who repeatedly put herself at risk, and proved instrumental in many successful MI6 missions during world war II. Granted, she often worked as a honeypot agent, but it just seems like the book really leaned into that aspect. It's all in the title, The Last Goodnight. That's If this weren't a true story, it would seem like a contrived spy thriller where a special agent Betty Pack uses her feminine wiles, to charm, beguile, and seduce secrets from the enemy. Betty Pack, however, was a real person, who repeatedly put herself at risk, and proved instrumental in many successful MI6 missions during world war II. Granted, she often worked as a honeypot agent, but it just seems like the book really leaned into that aspect. It's all in the title, The Last Goodnight. That's not to say that this is a bad book. It seems to be researched pretty well and primary sources were used when possible. I guess I just didn't enjoy it as much as I was hoping to.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Fred Shaw

    This is the story of a pedigreed Washington debutant, Elizabeth Thorpe, who became a spy. Without any training or handler, at least in the beginning, Betty Pack (her married name) stepped into the world of espionage using her greatest tools: beauty, guile and fearlessness. There will soon be a movie about the "blonde James Bond, who was in the words of Bill Donovan, "the greatest unsung hero of WW II."" By the way she probably had as many lovers as 007. You may find as I did, a struggle to stay This is the story of a pedigreed Washington debutant, Elizabeth Thorpe, who became a spy. Without any training or handler, at least in the beginning, Betty Pack (her married name) stepped into the world of espionage using her greatest tools: beauty, guile and fearlessness. There will soon be a movie about the "blonde James Bond, who was in the words of Bill Donovan, "the greatest unsung hero of WW II."" By the way she probably had as many lovers as 007. You may find as I did, a struggle to stay engaged in the story. However, the last 700 pages made it worthwhile.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Whew! Fascinating stuff here about Betty Pack, a real WWII spy. She slept her way through secrets, and did all sorts of things that were intriguing. Why is there not a movie here? Her story screech!!!!!! (it's amazing what a Google search can do) Jennifer Laurence might be playing Betty Pack in a movie--she'd be perfect! http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/betty-pack-j... Whew! Fascinating stuff here about Betty Pack, a real WWII spy. She slept her way through secrets, and did all sorts of things that were intriguing. Why is there not a movie here? Her story screech!!!!!! (it's amazing what a Google search can do) Jennifer Laurence might be playing Betty Pack in a movie--she'd be perfect! http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/betty-pack-j...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joyce Reynolds-Ward

    An interesting look at one of the unsung heroines of the WWII era. One reason Betty Pack probably has been less-known probably is tied to her pragmatic usage of men in the same manner that many men would use women to gain information. Pack herself is somewhat unsympathetic as the author chronicles her pragmatic hops from bed to bed in order to gather information for the British Secret Service. That said, no one says a hero or heroine has to be sympathetic.

  25. 5 out of 5

    victor harris

    A very entertaining and sometimes gripping story about the spy career of the itinerant Betty Pack. Maintains the pace and interest of a good novel. Soon to be converted to a motion picture with Jennifer Lawrence in the role of Pack.

  26. 4 out of 5

    David Gordon

    I can't but wish I hadn't read this book. The story put forth portrays the subject as heroic and perhaps that is true, but what I came away with is what a thoroughly despicable human being she was. I can't but wish I hadn't read this book. The story put forth portrays the subject as heroic and perhaps that is true, but what I came away with is what a thoroughly despicable human being she was.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Brown

    A thrilling read about a woman no one has heard of who, Betty Thorpe who spied for the Brits during the War. History is a nightmare. -James Joyce (Ulysses) You will find it difficult to, I think to live on the surface in the company of Spaniards. We do not understand this way of existing. That is why we’re the despair of the Anglo-Saxons. What you call dramatics, we call truth! -Howard Blum (The Last Goodnight: A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure, and Betrayal p 103) What also distinguished A thrilling read about a woman no one has heard of who, Betty Thorpe who spied for the Brits during the War. History is a nightmare. -James Joyce (Ulysses) You will find it difficult to, I think to live on the surface in the company of Spaniards. We do not understand this way of existing. That is why we’re the despair of the Anglo-Saxons. What you call dramatics, we call truth! -Howard Blum (The Last Goodnight: A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure, and Betrayal p 103) What also distinguished him—and this was undoubtedly the secret of Castlerosse’s success—was his quick wit and brash, mischievous charm. A society doyenne out to get revenge for some slight approached him at a party, tapped his massive waist-coated belly with a catty finger, and snarled, “If this stomach were on a woman, I would think she was pregnant.” Without missing a beat, his lordship drawled back, “Madam, a half-hour ago it was on a woman and by now she very well might be pregnant.” -Howard Blum (The Last Goodnight: A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure, and Betrayal p 107) From the moment she boarded the train—tried to unsuccessfully to light her cigarette with a box of Spanish matches and in her frustration quipped, “This is the only thing in Spain that doesn’t strike,” a friendship was born. -Howard Blum (The Last Goodnight: A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure, and Betrayal p 108) “I could never love anyone completely. I am twenty-six already and the thing you mean is never likely to happen to me.” Now at fifty-three, a lifetime of experiences behind her, she saw that her prediction had proven true. Her heart could soar. Yet it would never find long-term fulfillment. A steady, companionable happiness would always elude her. -Howard Blum (The Last Goodnight: A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure, and Betrayal p 170) Cast a cold Eye On Life, on Death Horsemen, pass by! -W. B. Yeats He might have suggested that confusing passion for love was, in its too human way, an honest mistake. -Howard Blum (The Last Goodnight: A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure, and Betrayal p 240) If she continually convinced herself that she was falling in love, than one day, she wanted to believe, it would actually be true. She would be at peace and would finally settle into an imagined happiness. Her restlessness would vanish. -Howard Blum (The Last Goodnight: A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure, and Betrayal p 271) Spies lie by inclination, and governments are in the business of endorsing these falsehoods. Truth inevitably falls by the wayside. -Howard Blum (The Last Goodnight: A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure, and Betrayal p 319) He looked at her and was suddenly reminded of something Stephenson had said: Betty was “the greatest unsung hero of the war.” -Howard Blum (The Last Goodnight: A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure, and Betrayal p 463) https://nicolewbrown.blogspot.com/201...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    Today's post is on The Last Goodnight: A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure, and Betrayal by Howard Blum. It is 544 pages long and is published by HarperCollins. The cover is like a folder with a picture of Betty, the spy, and marked secret in red at the top. The intended reader is someone who likes WW2 stories, spies, and well researched information. There is foul language, sex, and violence in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead. From the back of the book- The New York Times bestselling Today's post is on The Last Goodnight: A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure, and Betrayal by Howard Blum. It is 544 pages long and is published by HarperCollins. The cover is like a folder with a picture of Betty, the spy, and marked secret in red at the top. The intended reader is someone who likes WW2 stories, spies, and well researched information. There is foul language, sex, and violence in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead. From the back of the book- 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 attachés 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. Review- An interesting look about a woman who helped win the second world war. The book covers all aspects of Betty's life from childhood to her death of cancer. The story is broken up as it is being told to Harford Hyde. He was looking for a way to make some money and Betty wanted to understand herself and her life. They met briefly during the war and just never forgot about each other. Together they lay out Betty's life before, during, and after her spy work in WW2. Betty was charming, beautiful, and totally committed to the cause of saving lives and ending the war. But she was also cold, cunning, and did not care about anything else but her cause. She lived for it and it alone. All the lover she took in life were nothing to her cause and drive. At the end of her life, she wanted to understand herself and I think that we get to understand her too. I give this books a Four out of Five stars. I was given this book by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rob Kitchin

    The Last Goodnight tells the story of Betty Pack’s life, who’s work as a spy was recognized by Roosevelt and Churchill and was declared by OSS chief Bill Donovan as ‘the greatest unsung heroine of the war.’ Operating under the codename ‘Cynthia’, Betty used her charm and sex to not only gather secrets via pillow talk, but also to set-up and participate in daring thefts and aid escapes. She was so determined to succeed that she would often run great risks to repeatedly try to get what her spymast The Last Goodnight tells the story of Betty Pack’s life, who’s work as a spy was recognized by Roosevelt and Churchill and was declared by OSS chief Bill Donovan as ‘the greatest unsung heroine of the war.’ Operating under the codename ‘Cynthia’, Betty used her charm and sex to not only gather secrets via pillow talk, but also to set-up and participate in daring thefts and aid escapes. She was so determined to succeed that she would often run great risks to repeatedly try to get what her spymasters desired, and often defied their counsel. Blum charts her various adventures in the US, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Spain and Chile and offers some speculation as to her motives and psychology. While she clearly was highly charismatic, she was also quite self-centred, bloody-minded and manipulative. She fell easily in-and-out of love and had no compunction in betraying lovers. The telling is almost like a novel, though one that is a little dry and stilted, and is told as if the narrator was present and witnessed the events, yet clearly the dialogue and much of the action is speculation based on some testimony. The book is also a little oddly organized. The biography doesn’t always run chronologically and the main narrative is interdispersed with Betty’s interactions with her biographer, a former fellow spy, and their trip to Ireland. The main purpose of this thread seems to be to reveal how her story came to light and the key source of material for Blum (Hyde, her biographer, had gathered together her testimony, many letters, and other documents depositing them in a university archive on his death). It’s as if Blum has a sense that the reader will not believe some of the story and wants to reassure the reader of its veracity (at the start and end he is keen to assert it is a true telling), but in a lot of ways it’s a distraction. Despite Blum’s statements, there is little getting around the fact that the documentary sources are somewhat sketchy and based mostly on self-testimony and the story needs framing in a more circumspect and critical way than simply asserting that it is the truth. Nonetheless, Betty Pack did live an incredible life and did make vital contributions to the Allies intelligence operations before and during the Second World War.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brian V

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Well written. It is a compelling character description of a beautiful, seductive spy who is responsible for helping get Enigma out of Poland; remarkable intelligence feats in Spanish Civil war; and stealing the Vichy French naval codes that make North African invasion a success. Intersection of pivotal historical events with a unique individual who is born to be a spy, but cannot survive ordinary life. The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Dark Invasion, channels Erik Larson and Well written. It is a compelling character description of a beautiful, seductive spy who is responsible for helping get Enigma out of Poland; remarkable intelligence feats in Spanish Civil war; and stealing the Vichy French naval codes that make North African invasion a success. Intersection of pivotal historical events with a unique individual who is born to be a spy, but cannot survive ordinary life. 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 attachés 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.

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