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Code Name Madeleine: A Sufi Spy in Nazi-Occupied Paris

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Raised in a lush suburb of 1920s Paris, Noor Inayat Khan was an introspective musician and writer, dedicated to her family and to her father’s spiritual values of harmony, beauty, and tolerance. She did not seem destined for wartime heroism. Yet, faced with the evils of Nazi violence and the German occupation of France, Noor joined the British Special Operations Executive Raised in a lush suburb of 1920s Paris, Noor Inayat Khan was an introspective musician and writer, dedicated to her family and to her father’s spiritual values of harmony, beauty, and tolerance. She did not seem destined for wartime heroism. Yet, faced with the evils of Nazi violence and the German occupation of France, Noor joined the British Special Operations Executive and trained in espionage, sabotage, and reconnaissance. She returned to Paris under an assumed identity immediately before the Germans mopped up the Allies’ largest communications network in France. For crucial months of the war, Noor was the only wireless operator there sending critical information to London, significantly aiding the success of the Allied landing on D-Day. Code-named Madeleine, she became a high-value target for the Gestapo. When she was eventually captured, Noor attempted two daring escapes before she was sent to Dachau and killed just months before the end of the war. Carefully distilled from dozens of interviews, newly discovered manuscripts, official documents, and personal letters, Code Name Madeleine is both a compelling, deeply researched history and a thrilling tribute to Noor Inayat Khan, whose courage and faith guided her through the most brutal regime in history.


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Raised in a lush suburb of 1920s Paris, Noor Inayat Khan was an introspective musician and writer, dedicated to her family and to her father’s spiritual values of harmony, beauty, and tolerance. She did not seem destined for wartime heroism. Yet, faced with the evils of Nazi violence and the German occupation of France, Noor joined the British Special Operations Executive Raised in a lush suburb of 1920s Paris, Noor Inayat Khan was an introspective musician and writer, dedicated to her family and to her father’s spiritual values of harmony, beauty, and tolerance. She did not seem destined for wartime heroism. Yet, faced with the evils of Nazi violence and the German occupation of France, Noor joined the British Special Operations Executive and trained in espionage, sabotage, and reconnaissance. She returned to Paris under an assumed identity immediately before the Germans mopped up the Allies’ largest communications network in France. For crucial months of the war, Noor was the only wireless operator there sending critical information to London, significantly aiding the success of the Allied landing on D-Day. Code-named Madeleine, she became a high-value target for the Gestapo. When she was eventually captured, Noor attempted two daring escapes before she was sent to Dachau and killed just months before the end of the war. Carefully distilled from dozens of interviews, newly discovered manuscripts, official documents, and personal letters, Code Name Madeleine is both a compelling, deeply researched history and a thrilling tribute to Noor Inayat Khan, whose courage and faith guided her through the most brutal regime in history.

30 review for Code Name Madeleine: A Sufi Spy in Nazi-Occupied Paris

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    Noor Inayat Khan was an unlikely spy - daughter of an Indian mystic,( a father to whom many chapters in this book are devoted, though for me, too many), Noor was horrified by the atrocities carried out by the Nazis, and decided that she could no longer look the other way, and so she volunteered to help the British as a secret agent. After being trained in espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance, Special Operation Executives (SOE’S) were sent on their way to occupied France with the parting words “ Noor Inayat Khan was an unlikely spy - daughter of an Indian mystic,( a father to whom many chapters in this book are devoted, though for me, too many), Noor was horrified by the atrocities carried out by the Nazis, and decided that she could no longer look the other way, and so she volunteered to help the British as a secret agent. After being trained in espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance, Special Operation Executives (SOE’S) were sent on their way to occupied France with the parting words “Merde Alors” loosely translating as “You’re in deep shit now “! Though many doubts were raised about Noor’s suitability during training, with one report noting that she was not overburdened with brains, and was unstable and temperamental, she was nevertheless allowed to continue her training. She became a radio operator, transmitting crucial messages to the Allies and was known by the code name Madeleine. After aiding the allies for many months, something which proved vital in the lead up to the D Day landings, she was betrayed by someone she knew for a monetary reward. She was captured by the Gestapo, and attempted to escape on two occasions, and was then incarcerated in a prison in Germany before being sent to Dachau concentration camp. There were times when Noor was incredibly naive and careless - at one point leaving her notebook on the table at a house where she was staying - it contained important messages and codes, which in the wrong hands would have meant certain death for many agents and members of the resistance, luckily for her, the house owner was no Nazi sympathiser. However, let there be no doubt about it, she was an incredibly brave lady, and like so many other brave men and women, she paid the ultimate price in her fight for our freedom. She was executed in 1944 at Dachau concentration camp and uttered just one word before her death “liberté”. I am humbled by, and salute them all. * Thank you to Netgalley and W.W.Norton for my ARC in exchange for an honest unbiased review *

  2. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    3.5 stars rounded up. This is an excellent account of Noor Inayat Khan, a British spy in WWII occupied Paris. The author has spent a great deal of time time researching Noor's early life, training and activities in France under German occupation. She was captured and executed by the Germans at Dachau. Noor was brought up in the Sufi tradition of harmony, beauty and tolerance. Faced with the overwhelming evil of Nazi occupation of Europe, she realized that she must do something to combat this evi 3.5 stars rounded up. This is an excellent account of Noor Inayat Khan, a British spy in WWII occupied Paris. The author has spent a great deal of time time researching Noor's early life, training and activities in France under German occupation. She was captured and executed by the Germans at Dachau. Noor was brought up in the Sufi tradition of harmony, beauty and tolerance. Faced with the overwhelming evil of Nazi occupation of Europe, she realized that she must do something to combat this evil. Pros: The author has provided a richly detailed portrait of Noor's life. The story is well written and reads easily. Cons: The author spends the first few chapters explaining Sufism, a mystical religion in more detail than I liked. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a story of courage and resourcefulness in the face of the true depths of evil. Two quotes: Noor's father, Inayat Khan: "Rather, he taught the value of meeting the quotidian challenges of life with the wholeness of one's spirit and the truth of one's soul. 'We should first try to become human,' Inayat wrote. 'To become an angel is not very difficult; to be material is very easy; but to live in the world, in all the difficulties and struggles of the world, and to be hum an at the same time, is very difficult." Noor's upbringing: "We were brought in such a way," Vilayat later said, "that we could not be like other children. The whole atmosphere was rarefied...It was as if we looked at life through stained glass windows." I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank You Goodreads, WW Norton and Arthur J. Magida for sending me this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katie B

    I love reading about the women's contributions during World War 2. While I knew a little bit about the spy network from other nonfiction and historical fiction novels I have read, Noor Inayat Khan was not someone I was very familiar with prior to picking up this book. An interesting and brave woman and I'm glad the author saw the value in writing about her life. Noor Inayat Khan was born in 1914 in Moscow but spent her childhood living in England and France. Her father, Inayat Khan, was a descend I love reading about the women's contributions during World War 2. While I knew a little bit about the spy network from other nonfiction and historical fiction novels I have read, Noor Inayat Khan was not someone I was very familiar with prior to picking up this book. An interesting and brave woman and I'm glad the author saw the value in writing about her life. Noor Inayat Khan was born in 1914 in Moscow but spent her childhood living in England and France. Her father, Inayat Khan, was a descendant of Tipu Sultan, a ruler who fought against Britain turning India into a colony. Inayat was a mystic and met Noor's mother during his travels in America. Noor and her siblings were raised in a peace loving home but after war broke out against the Nazis, she decided to join the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. She then trained to become a spy. She was sent to France with a new identity, Madeleine, and her mission as a wireless operator was to transmit secret messages back to the Special Operations Executive in England. It's always amazing to read these real life stories of courage and there is no doubt Noor was a very brave woman. Now I'll admit one of the more fascinating things I picked up from this book was she wasn't exactly a top notch spy. She could be careless and that frustrated many of the people she worked with during the war. And that to me is what makes her story incredible. She wasn't the best, maybe not the brightest, but she was able to contribute in a meaningful way. She was resilient and wouldn't give up. You don't have to be perfect to be a hero. Noor was a hero. The last few chapters were difficult to read as I could picture the location quite vividly as it is one I visited while living in Europe. I found myself having to stop and collect myself as I became so emotional while reading. There are certain books that stick with you and Noor and her story is definitely one of those for me. I highly encourage anyone who likes World War 2 nonfiction or who enjoys learning about courageous women to pick this one up. I won a free advance copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway by the publisher but was not obligated to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Noor Inayat Khan, code named 'Madeleine' was one of the most successful British SOE (Special Operation Executive) wireless operators in Nazi occupied France. For four months in 1943, longer than any other radio operator, she passed messages between Paris and London that were crucial in the planning of D-Day. Arrested in October 1943, she was interrogated for weeks in a Gestapo prison in Paris but never told the Gestapo any information. After trying to escape twice she was transported to Dachau, Noor Inayat Khan, code named 'Madeleine' was one of the most successful British SOE (Special Operation Executive) wireless operators in Nazi occupied France. For four months in 1943, longer than any other radio operator, she passed messages between Paris and London that were crucial in the planning of D-Day. Arrested in October 1943, she was interrogated for weeks in a Gestapo prison in Paris but never told the Gestapo any information. After trying to escape twice she was transported to Dachau, chained and manacled and placed in a dark and damp isolation cell until she was killed by firing squad three months after D-Day. Arthur Magida's book not only gives a detailed and well researched account of Noor's recruitment, training and time in Paris with the SOE, but also describes her upbringing in France as the daughter of a famous Indian Sufi mystic that made her a most unusual recruit for the SOE. Her Sufi upbringing meant that she would not tell a lie or kill anyone and it worried her trainers that she might not be able to lie to the Germans to protect herself. A writer of poetry and fairytales, Noor also seemed a little unworldly and dreamy and her beauty made her somewhat noticeable when an agent needed to be unremarkable to blend in. Nevertheless they did send her to France, but she didn't always follow orders, refusing to return to London when her network was compromised and destroyed. Despite SOE rules, she then sought out old friends in her home town to help her, but fortunately not one of them betrayed her. However, also against SOE rules, she inexplicably kept transcripts of the messages she sent and received in her notebook, which allowed the Gestapo to send bogus messages on her radio after her capture, resulting in London sending seven SOE operatives straight into Gestapo hands. In many ways this account of Noor is stranger than any fiction. It's a fascinating account of a most remarkable young woman who died for her country, after surviving in Nazi occupied France on her wits and refusing to give any information to the Germans despite being imprisoned in the most heinous conditions. With many thanks to W.W. Norton & Company and Netgalley for a copy of the book to read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Obsidian

    Please note that I received this via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review. This was really good. I don't know what else to say. Magida did a great job with telling us the story of Noor and how she came to be a spy. Magida also has pictures of Noor's family and different locations that helped tell her story. I also loved that he included further reading for those out there that want to read more information. I finished this book at 80 percent, the remaining parts of it were notes. "Co Please note that I received this via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review. This was really good. I don't know what else to say. Magida did a great job with telling us the story of Noor and how she came to be a spy. Magida also has pictures of Noor's family and different locations that helped tell her story. I also loved that he included further reading for those out there that want to read more information. I finished this book at 80 percent, the remaining parts of it were notes. "Code Name Madeline: A Sufi Spy in Nazi-Occupied Paris" follows Noor Inayat Khan. She is flying in a plane under the cover of night during a full moon into France. From there Magida traces her family's history (her father was Inayat Khan and was descended from nobility, her mother was Ora Ray Baker, an American). Magida goes into Khan's family and their disapproval of Ora and then we get to Ora's birth in Moscow of all places. The book jumps forward and then we are following Noor as she decides to do what she can to resist Hitler and the Nazi regime. Her story is one of determination and also sadness because you find out what became of her. I had never heard of her before this book and I have to say that Magida did her justice. The writing I thought was crisp and was filled with so many historical tidbits it keeps you reading. Magida is able to fan your interest with not boring you to death which many writers of history are not that great at. The flow of the book was really good and was broken up with pictures of Noor, her family, and other things. It really made her came alive to me with the addition of the pictures. The setting of Europe during the Nazi regime is heartbreaking. Finding out what became of Noor and others during the war still boggles my mind. You wonder how human beings can be so cruel to each other. The ending to me is bittersweet: At the close of the day when life's toil fades away, And all so peaceful sleep, No rest do I find since Thou left one behind, 'Till Death around me doth creep. Bitter nights of despair hath made fragrant the air, Tear drops hath turned into dew, I watch and I wait 'till Thou openeth the gate, And Thy love leadeth one through. "untitled," Noor Inayat Khan

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    Code Name Madeleine is a rare combination: a work of history that is quick, compelling, and substantive. It's the perfect gift book for anyone interested in WWII or women's history, but it's also just a great—and true—story about what one woman can accomplish, despite her own imperfections (and we all have them). Code Name Madeleine tell the story of Noor Inayat Khan, daughter of a Sufi mystic father and an American mother. Khan worked as a British agent in occupied France during WWII. Khan's upb Code Name Madeleine is a rare combination: a work of history that is quick, compelling, and substantive. It's the perfect gift book for anyone interested in WWII or women's history, but it's also just a great—and true—story about what one woman can accomplish, despite her own imperfections (and we all have them). Code Name Madeleine tell the story of Noor Inayat Khan, daughter of a Sufi mystic father and an American mother. Khan worked as a British agent in occupied France during WWII. Khan's upbringing focused on spiritual values: truth, a refusal to judge others, and non-violence. Her father, however, also taught her that failing to take action against an evil, even if taking action requires violence, can be worse than the original violence itself. Khan is a quirky woman, ill-suited in many ways for undercover work, but her ill-suitedness actually creates its own kind of competence, not by the book, but effective nonetheless. She may be the only undercover operative ever who was committed to never lying, whether to her handlers or the enemy she way spying upon. Whether or not you usually read nonfiction, you should read Code Name Madeleine. It will introduce you to a remarkable woman and help you think about the ways we can respond to injustice and cruelty in our own time. I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via EdelweissPlus. The opinions are my own.

  7. 4 out of 5

    June

    I am a sucker for profiles in courage, even though they often gloss over flaws and shortcomings, instead dwelling on the preternatural abilities, Hail-Mary saves, and lucky breaks that led to life as we know it. Noor Inayat Khan's story has some of that, but it also has the more flawed side of things. Rather than choosing the the kind of person who blended in, like most spies, it was a questionable decision to put such a memorable person in Noor's assignment. Her background and personality weren I am a sucker for profiles in courage, even though they often gloss over flaws and shortcomings, instead dwelling on the preternatural abilities, Hail-Mary saves, and lucky breaks that led to life as we know it. Noor Inayat Khan's story has some of that, but it also has the more flawed side of things. Rather than choosing the the kind of person who blended in, like most spies, it was a questionable decision to put such a memorable person in Noor's assignment. Her background and personality weren't perfectly suited to espionage, and she made some careless mistakes. Yet her courage and loyalty are stunning and inspiring, and the last few chapters are excruciating to read, even if you know what's coming. Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for a digital ARC for the purpose of an unbiased review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kupersmith

    Of the heroic women of the British Special Operations Executive French station who perished during the Second World War at the hands of the Nazis, Noor Inayet Khan is perhaps the most unlikely, yet the most iconic. Her nationality was neither British nor French, though she was posthumously awarded the George Cross and the Croix de guerre. Her father was a member of the Indian aristocracy who toured Europe and America teaching Sufi mysticism, and her mother an American, from of all places Leon, I Of the heroic women of the British Special Operations Executive French station who perished during the Second World War at the hands of the Nazis, Noor Inayet Khan is perhaps the most unlikely, yet the most iconic. Her nationality was neither British nor French, though she was posthumously awarded the George Cross and the Croix de guerre. Her father was a member of the Indian aristocracy who toured Europe and America teaching Sufi mysticism, and her mother an American, from of all places Leon, Iowa (yes, I have been there). Noor was brought up in England and France, a poet and author of children’s stories. At the outbreak of the war she joined the WAAF and was trained as a W/T operator, which made her an attractive prospect for the SOE, which relied on wireless operators to communicate with their agents, along with her fluent French. Despite a head-in-the-clouds poetic affect, and contrary to the expectations of her trainers, she proved a cool and capable operative, handling virtually the entire SOE communications in northern France in 1943 till she was betrayed to the Gestapo in October 1943. She told the Germans nothing, but unfortunately they captured her codes and notes to use against the British. After an escape attempt, Noor was sent to a prison in Germany. On 13 September 1944 she was executed at Dachau along with three other SOE women agents. My first encounter with Noor was in Sarah Helms’ wonderful A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE, and if you are learning about the SOE women for the first time, it’s where I would suggest you start. Code Name Madeleine is the first book I have read devoted entirely to Noor. The author Arthur J. Magida seems to have thoroughly researched the subject (i.e. he cites all the books I’ve read and some I haven’t) and I am grateful to have learned so much. Sometimes the tone seemed a trifle condescending, but then I cannot imagine trying to write a biography of someone who was more highly developed spiritually and very much braver than I could ever possibly be. The generation of the Second World War seems to have consisted of some of the very best—as well as the very worst—women and men who have ever existed. Magida writes in a slangy American style that clashes with the setting: an estate car turns into a station wagon and a Nissen hut into a Quonset. But despite the occasionally jarring prose and inaccuracies, the splendid radiance of Noor Inayat Kahn shines through. Would that all young people today knew her story, and those of the other heroic SOE women. A good starting place of YA readers would be Elizabeth Wein’s novel Code Name Verity.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    An unlikely choice for a spy in many ways, Noor Inayat Khan proved her worth and her courage many times over during her time as a radio operator for SOE in occupied France. Having read a number of books about SOE operations, I was familiar with her name, some of her contributions to SOE's wartime efforts, and the tragic end of her story. Without glossing over its subject's flaws and mistakes, this excellent biography digs into Noor Inayat Khan's too short life, SOE activities, and death, drawing An unlikely choice for a spy in many ways, Noor Inayat Khan proved her worth and her courage many times over during her time as a radio operator for SOE in occupied France. Having read a number of books about SOE operations, I was familiar with her name, some of her contributions to SOE's wartime efforts, and the tragic end of her story. Without glossing over its subject's flaws and mistakes, this excellent biography digs into Noor Inayat Khan's too short life, SOE activities, and death, drawing an inspiring portrait of one woman's vital work and unflinching bravery when it mattered the most.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Becky Morris

    3.5 Stars I received this ARC from Goodreads Giveways. If you’re interested in anything related to females who operated for England or the resistance during WWII in France, this is one that I would recommend! I recognized names from other books I had read like Code Named Lise. I docked a star because it at times read like a research paper from college. Especially when talking about Sufism. And it leaned heavily on the interpretation of Noor’s father’s teachings and what those ~could mean for Noor 3.5 Stars I received this ARC from Goodreads Giveways. If you’re interested in anything related to females who operated for England or the resistance during WWII in France, this is one that I would recommend! I recognized names from other books I had read like Code Named Lise. I docked a star because it at times read like a research paper from college. Especially when talking about Sufism. And it leaned heavily on the interpretation of Noor’s father’s teachings and what those ~could mean for Noor. It was more impactful when it was actually Noor’s own words or someone talking about Noor explaining why she did what she did. Also it just bothered me at times that the author, who is a white male, included offensive terms for minority groups in some of the quotes from people. Just felt very unnecessary. But ultimately Noor lived a brave and incredible life and I’m glad I now know about her.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anne Morgan

    "Code Name Madeleine" is the moving story of one unlikely hero during World War II: Noor Inayat Khan. Growing up the daughter of a Sufi mystic, Noor learned never to judge others, never to be harsh to them, and never, ever, to lie. But when the Nazis invaded her home country of France she knew she needed to do more than nurse injured soldier- she needed to make a difference. Through Britain's clandestine SOE she learned to operate wireless radios, to hide from Nazis, and to help French resistanc "Code Name Madeleine" is the moving story of one unlikely hero during World War II: Noor Inayat Khan. Growing up the daughter of a Sufi mystic, Noor learned never to judge others, never to be harsh to them, and never, ever, to lie. But when the Nazis invaded her home country of France she knew she needed to do more than nurse injured soldier- she needed to make a difference. Through Britain's clandestine SOE she learned to operate wireless radios, to hide from Nazis, and to help French resistance create chaos throughout France by damaging Nazi operations. Noor was a gentle, 'otherworldly', woman who had more courage than those who sent her to France anticipated. The research for this book was detailed, even in places where you wouldn't expect much documentation- like Noor's final prison. There is more repetition than necessary, and in places the book moves slower than I would have expected because of this, but overall "Code Name Madeleine" is a touching and heartfelt story of an inspirational and courageous woman. Noor is one of the hidden heroes who helped bring the Nazi regime to its demise and this book does an excellent job of celebrating her achievements. Readers of "Last Hope Island" and "Madame Foucarde's War" will especially enjoy seeing another piece of British intelligence and French resistance at work. I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    There were plenty of reasons to consider Noor Inayat Khan an unlikely World War II spy. Noor was born into a family with a legacy of Sufi mystics in the family tree. As a Sufi, her father taught that one should confront the struggles of the present, while maintaining one's humanity and avoiding killing. To Noor, that meant helping in the war against Hitler. She wasn't at the top of her Special Operations class, and a few of her evaluations mentioned she might not be suitable. She was small of st There were plenty of reasons to consider Noor Inayat Khan an unlikely World War II spy. Noor was born into a family with a legacy of Sufi mystics in the family tree. As a Sufi, her father taught that one should confront the struggles of the present, while maintaining one's humanity and avoiding killing. To Noor, that meant helping in the war against Hitler. She wasn't at the top of her Special Operations class, and a few of her evaluations mentioned she might not be suitable. She was small of stature, not particularly athletic, and she might not have the personality. However, she was fluent in French and she was a radio operator, a skill set needed in the build up to D Day. Noor became the first woman radio operator to be dropped into France, and even though most of her cell was captured, she stayed in France from June 1943 until until her own capture in October 1943. This is as much a family history as it is a personal biography and the photographs included put a face on this brave woman. She was arrested, imprisoned, tortured and executed, but she never betrayed any of the names of her colleagues. It was enlightening to read about this you woman, especially since this slice of history, an Indian Sufi working as a spy during WWII, is never mentioned in history books. Highly recommend to women's history and WWII buffs, or to anyone who wants to learn something new.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Coleen

    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. The author did a great job of investigating the story behind Noor Inayat Khan who spied for the Allies during World War 11 in Paris helping the resistance. Yes, the book moves slowly, but interestingly, detailing what and when and how. It took a lot of time for Noor to become Madeleine, a spy, but there is no doubt that it also took a lot of courage. Eventually, she was 'successful' and the term is used loosely because even the most successful of those fig I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. The author did a great job of investigating the story behind Noor Inayat Khan who spied for the Allies during World War 11 in Paris helping the resistance. Yes, the book moves slowly, but interestingly, detailing what and when and how. It took a lot of time for Noor to become Madeleine, a spy, but there is no doubt that it also took a lot of courage. Eventually, she was 'successful' and the term is used loosely because even the most successful of those fighting the Nazi's in Paris and through the resistance had short shelf lives. I was amazed at how many of the resistance and spies died and / or were captured trying to out-guess the Nazis. Knowing that World War 11 ended with the German's losing, is only some consolation. The book was a can't-put- down, keep reading to the very end! Despite some of the gruesome plot, I enjoyed it tremendously.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maria-Anne

    What an amazing woman, talented and brave with a remarkable upbringing. I can't help but think that some of the objectors during her training might have been correct in their assessment. On the other hand there wasn't sufficient training for what was needed mostly due to the time restrains. They really treated these agents as disposable not expected to survive more than a couple of months. It really amazes you how careless some of these agents where often risking their lives and others. Wanting What an amazing woman, talented and brave with a remarkable upbringing. I can't help but think that some of the objectors during her training might have been correct in their assessment. On the other hand there wasn't sufficient training for what was needed mostly due to the time restrains. They really treated these agents as disposable not expected to survive more than a couple of months. It really amazes you how careless some of these agents where often risking their lives and others. Wanting to know a little more about Noor’s r writing I ordered the "Jātaka Tales” on amazon. This book is well written which makes it an easy read with a lot of details. Obviously a lot of research went into this book. Highly recommend it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Shari Suarez

    Noor Inayat Khan was an unlikely spy. The daughter of an Indian mystic and an American woman, she was raised to believe in peace and nonviolence. But once WWII started she wanted to help the Allies defeat the Nazis. There were serious doubts about her ability to do the job but she was sent into the field and managed to do a brilliant job. Unfortunately, the SOE let her down and her life ended tragically. This is a scholarly look into her life both before and during the war. It's well researched a Noor Inayat Khan was an unlikely spy. The daughter of an Indian mystic and an American woman, she was raised to believe in peace and nonviolence. But once WWII started she wanted to help the Allies defeat the Nazis. There were serious doubts about her ability to do the job but she was sent into the field and managed to do a brilliant job. Unfortunately, the SOE let her down and her life ended tragically. This is a scholarly look into her life both before and during the war. It's well researched and a good portrait of a woman living a double life.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth M.

    A thrilling book recounting the true story of an unlikely allied spy in World War II. You are transported with her across the English Channel in a flimsy aircraft, landing safely, evading capture for two months, saving thousands of lives by risking and eventually sacrificing her own. The writing is elegiac and captivating. Not preachy, but holds lessons for today about courage and dedication. Dr. Ken Klein

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cristie Underwood

    This book was full of shocking tidbits about how Noor Inayat Khan, the daughter of a Sufi mystic father and an American mother became one of the most successful spies of the British SOE (Special Operation Executive) in Nazi occupied France. I was amazed at her bravery and dedication while reading. She is truly a hero whose name should be well-known in history.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Fink

    RECEIVED ARC COPY I love learning about different perspectives to a story and this book allowed that. It showed us a different aspect of a war that most of us are familiar with. I really enjoyed learning about the character’s life from beginning to end. It was also very moving to see pictures of letters and notes that Noor wrote or saw. It makes it so much more real, not just a story we are reading. Overall this is a solid read that allowed me to become more knowledgeable and I was able to do it RECEIVED ARC COPY I love learning about different perspectives to a story and this book allowed that. It showed us a different aspect of a war that most of us are familiar with. I really enjoyed learning about the character’s life from beginning to end. It was also very moving to see pictures of letters and notes that Noor wrote or saw. It makes it so much more real, not just a story we are reading. Overall this is a solid read that allowed me to become more knowledgeable and I was able to do it in an entertaining way. If you are interested in history, I would say this book is for you.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Now on StoryGraph)

    A bit of a slog at times, but an interesting story. These female agents had such extraordinary courage.

  20. 4 out of 5

    A_Place_In The_Orchard

    This isn't the first book I've read about, or at least involving, Noor Inayat Khan (and she even turtned up in an episode of Doctor Who at the beginning of the year). But it's certainly the most thorough - all the more so because the entire story is so surreal that even knowing it's true (and how it ends) doesn't mean you are able to fully suspend disbelief. The heroism of the SOE in general, and "Madeleine" in particular is something that should never be forgotten, and Magida gives both of thos This isn't the first book I've read about, or at least involving, Noor Inayat Khan (and she even turtned up in an episode of Doctor Who at the beginning of the year). But it's certainly the most thorough - all the more so because the entire story is so surreal that even knowing it's true (and how it ends) doesn't mean you are able to fully suspend disbelief. The heroism of the SOE in general, and "Madeleine" in particular is something that should never be forgotten, and Magida gives both of those the tribute they deserve.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Erikka

    This was a stunning biography of a fairly unknown (at least in the US) hero of world war two. Noor Khan was a talented, dedicated, and extremely brave agent of the SOE, sending coded messages to England from Nazi-occupied France. What I enjoyed about this book was how much it humanized her. While embracing and celebrating her heroism, it also shared stories of some of her flaws, her mistakes, and the times when she made fairly iffy choices that could have put her and others in jeopardy. She wasn This was a stunning biography of a fairly unknown (at least in the US) hero of world war two. Noor Khan was a talented, dedicated, and extremely brave agent of the SOE, sending coded messages to England from Nazi-occupied France. What I enjoyed about this book was how much it humanized her. While embracing and celebrating her heroism, it also shared stories of some of her flaws, her mistakes, and the times when she made fairly iffy choices that could have put her and others in jeopardy. She wasn't some flawless movie spy: she was just a human being wanting to do what was right. I also loved how this book explored the contributions of other SOE agents, showing that even at her loneliest, she was never working alone. I could have done with significantly less detail about her dad and some of the tangential people who entered her life once and had little effect (there are three pages on the guy who flew her into France. Like, a paragraph maybe on that dude. It's Noor's story, not his. I also felt the writing got a bit flowery at times, which to me fits better in a fictional book. I don't need fluff when a person's life is this exciting. Happy 75th anniversary of VE Day and may the world never require the services of another Noor Inayat Khan. (Also, she was portrayed in an episode of Doctor Who about badass women. So that's neat).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Donna Jenkins

    This book was full of information I was totally unaware of. At first I struggled = as my knowledge was non-existent. It was a great read. Learned to know and love Noor. What an incredible woman she was.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    A well-written look into the life of Noor Inayat Kahn. Her determination and abilities to rise beyond people’s perceptions of her played a significant role in the Allied victory in World War II. You NEED to know her story., and won’t be disappointed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Schultz

    Read if you: Want a gripping and outstandingly told story about an Indian-born spy during World War II. Warning--this, unfortunately, does not have a happy ending. All the more reason that Noor Inayat Khan's story be better known. She was an unlikely spy and had a rough start during training, but her work was defining and important during World War II. Through Arthur J. Magida's skillful and intriguing biography, her determination and idealism lives on. Librarians/booksellers: World War II books Read if you: Want a gripping and outstandingly told story about an Indian-born spy during World War II. Warning--this, unfortunately, does not have a happy ending. All the more reason that Noor Inayat Khan's story be better known. She was an unlikely spy and had a rough start during training, but her work was defining and important during World War II. Through Arthur J. Magida's skillful and intriguing biography, her determination and idealism lives on. Librarians/booksellers: World War II books are regularly popular. This adds needed diversity to our knowledge of World War II. Many thanks to W.W. Norton and Company and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Roberts

    I needed to read this book. It finally filled in a lot of gaps for me and brought to life in a new way someone I have loved and admired for a long time. The first time I heard about Noor Inayat Khan was not from a book, but in the context of a spiritual teaching. It must have been 1978 or 1979 at a Labor Day retreat near New Lebanon, New York. The featured presenter was Noor’s brother, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, a Sufi teacher. I had never been to one of his retreats before so I was not sure what to I needed to read this book. It finally filled in a lot of gaps for me and brought to life in a new way someone I have loved and admired for a long time. The first time I heard about Noor Inayat Khan was not from a book, but in the context of a spiritual teaching. It must have been 1978 or 1979 at a Labor Day retreat near New Lebanon, New York. The featured presenter was Noor’s brother, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, a Sufi teacher. I had never been to one of his retreats before so I was not sure what to expect. A group of us under a big white tent listened to him talk about spirituality in everyday life. We were nodding in agreement. Then he started in with a family example, his sister Noor. He told us that before her capture by the Nazis, Noor was the last wireless operator in Paris sending coded messages to the Allies. When he finished with her last utterance of “Liberte” before being shot after a savage beating by a Nazi guard at Dachau, we were all in tears. Pir Vilayat was in tears. There was silence for many minutes. Drinking in the silence, I was also filled with waves of goose bumps for at that moment all the stories that my Aunt Jean had told me became crystal clear. Like Noor she had been active in the French Resistance in Algeria against the Nazis. Born and raised in the town of Sidi bel Abbes, her specialty had been rail sabotage, under the instruction of her father who worked for the railroad. Like Noor her courage was stellar. At the age of 13 Aunt Jean had completed her first successful mission: derailing one of Rommel’s supply trains. Now I understood why Aunt Jean would become so animated when she told me about her activities. “Dooglas,” she would say in her French accent, “Truth is doing the right thing, whatever the cost.” Spirituality in everyday life, just like Pir Vilayat had been explaining to us. Standing up for what one believed in. If this is what the Sufis taught, I was all in. As I sat in the tent with the other retreat participants, I thought about Noor’s Indian heritage and how when I had been drafted miracle of miracles, not sent to Vietnam but to Iran, Aunt Jean told me not to go to Canada as I had contemplated, but to go to Iran and learn as much about the culture as I could. Still filled with goose bumps, I had sudden renewed admiration for my Uncle Jack who had been stationed in North Africa with the Army’s 64th General Hospital, working as a supply sergeant. I saw Aunt Jean the way he must have seen her, and how two people of entirely different cultures united behind a noble cause and how people of all walks of life had to come together to defeat the Nazis, even an Indian Sufi of noble birth. As the years went by I would attend many of Pir Vilayat’s programs and retreats. I would hear his story about Noor many times, occasionally with some new details. It was always a highly emotional experience. I felt like I had come to know the person of Noor Inayat Khan. Noor’s greatness was also becoming clearer to the world. I knew historians were starting to take an interest in Noor’s heroism. I would sample the writings about her and be left cold. She was never more than a cardboard one dimensional figure. I decided to be content to just let Pir Vilayat tell his stories about her. Then decades later, I saw on Facebook that a new book about her by Arthur Magida was out. The reviews were claiming that he had brought Noor to life. And he has, absolutely!! He captured the same Noor Inayat Khan that I had experienced listening to her brother’s stories about her. He presents Noor as a real flesh and blood human being, not as a myth, or as some kind of novelized eulogy. It is meticulously researched. He expertly weaves her story into the fabric of those dangerous times. Read the book. I had contacted Mr. Magida while reading it and told him I found there to be many heart stopping moments. He suggested I might want to check in with my cardiologist. Indeed! You will not be disappointed reading this. I repeat. Read the book. Douglas Roberts

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Today’s post is on Code Name Madeleine: A Sufi Spy in Nazi-Occupied Paris by Arthur J. Magida. 306 pages long and is published by W.W. Norton and company. The cover is a rust colored photograph of a woman walking away from the camera and towards the Eiffel Tower. The intended reader is someone who is interested in War World 2 history and forgetting women’s history. There is no foul language, no sex, and some violence in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead. From the inside of the book- Noor Inayat Today’s post is on Code Name Madeleine: A Sufi Spy in Nazi-Occupied Paris by Arthur J. Magida. 306 pages long and is published by W.W. Norton and company. The cover is a rust colored photograph of a woman walking away from the camera and towards the Eiffel Tower. The intended reader is someone who is interested in War World 2 history and forgetting women’s history. There is no foul language, no sex, and some violence in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead. From the inside of the book- Noor Inayat Khan, secret agent for the British in occupied France. During the critical summer months of 1943, Noor Inayat Khan was the only wireless operator transmitting secret messages from Nazi occupied France to the Special Operations Executive in England. She was a most unlikely spy. As the daughter of an Indian Mystic, raised in a household devoted to peaceful reflection on the outskirts of Paris, Khan did not seem destined for wartime heroism. Yet, faced with the evils of Nazism, she could not look away. She volunteered to help the British; was trained in espionage, sabotage, and reconnaissance; and returned to France under the cover of night with a new identity and a code name: Madeline. Khan transmitted countless details crucial to the allies' success on D-Day, until she was captured and imprisoned by the Gestapo. She attempted to daring Escape before being sent to prison in Germany. Three months after the Allied invasion of France she was executed at Dachau. Her last word was liberte. Review- Inspiring story of a woman who when faced with the choice between her values and the lives of others she managed to find a way to satisfy both. Noor was a child of privilege, given access to knowledge, teachers, and the truly impressive things in life. There was no reason for her to volunteer to be dropped into France to be a wireless operator when all of the others have been hunted down and killed. But Noor refuse to back down when she looked and said that evil was being done and she could not turn away. So she went into France and for almost six months played a dangerous cat and mouse game with the Gestapo, but eventually they caught her and eventually they killed her. Like all World War II Memoirs of people fighting to survive, fighting to see better days, this is both inspiring and incredibly tragic. Noor had family waiting for her, had plans for the future, but just like millions of others that future life was taken away from her. But they never broke her spirit and that is something we can all take away from her life and her struggle. An inspirational if sad World War II memoir that is well-researched and well worth reading just to continue to shine light on women's work during the war. I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I was given a copy of this book as a gift.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Oxley

    Codename Madeleine by Arthur J. Magida is a historical non-fiction biography of female WWII radio operative Noor Inayat khan. From her privileged childhood living in a Sufi commune in Paris, Noor is described as a prodigious child, gifted at literature, music, and close to her father, and is schooled in the Islamic teachings of (peaceful Islamic mysticism) Sufi. Her father, Inayat khan is a Gandhi-Esque musician, (and descendent of Indian royalty) who tours Europe and America throughout her chil Codename Madeleine by Arthur J. Magida is a historical non-fiction biography of female WWII radio operative Noor Inayat khan. From her privileged childhood living in a Sufi commune in Paris, Noor is described as a prodigious child, gifted at literature, music, and close to her father, and is schooled in the Islamic teachings of (peaceful Islamic mysticism) Sufi. Her father, Inayat khan is a Gandhi-Esque musician, (and descendent of Indian royalty) who tours Europe and America throughout her childhood and early adulthood. At her father's death, Europe collapses into war, and although it's never quite explained, the creatively gifted Noor trains to be a radio operative and code breaker for England’s war effort. Recruited by the Secret Services to be a code-breaking spy, Noor is soon the only SOE (special operations executive) operative working for England and based in Paris. Flitting from secret hideouts, brazen liaisons with the enemy, secret messages to England, and illicit dispatches soon follow. Due to her (at times) insufficient spy skills, Noor is soon secretly tracked by the Gestapo and captured. In fairness, this is largely due to being double-crossed by an acquaintance, but still, the book does little to dismiss the suggestion that her spy skills weren't exactly top-notch. After a botched escape attempt, Noor is then shipped off to a POW camp in the depths of Nazi Germany. Noor was eventually executed at the infamous Dachau concentration camp in 1944 alongside 3 other females. Arthur J Madiga writes a fascinating tale of intrigue, espionage, botched spy rings, & heinous war crimes. At the centre of it all, Noor’s story is told with great care, historical fact, and is undoubtedly a homage to her work as a spy who's work was directly linked to the success of the D-Day landings, and it's surprising that Noor isn't more well known within the UK’s national conscience. Having featured in a recent episode of BBC SCI-FI series DOCTOR WHO, I knew the name but didn't know her story. Arthur J Magida’s superb account of Noor’s life is a compelling read, at times sketchy, but as historical novels go, I rather enjoyed it. I feel that we all should know a little bit more about this war hero! An excellent read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maryam Ijaz Butt

    #bookreview  Code Name Madeleine by Arthur J. Magida   A relevant read in the month of November (Remembrance Day) about an Indian Princess, Noor Inayat Khan, who enlisted as a spy for the SOE (Strategic Operations Executive) during the second world war. This is a well-researched biography of Noor who was the great, great granddaughter of Tipu Sultan. She grew up in France, daughter of a Sufi musician Inayat Khan. The first part of the book is about her father mainly, who played a big part in formi #bookreview  Code Name Madeleine by Arthur J. Magida   A relevant read in the month of November (Remembrance Day) about an Indian Princess, Noor Inayat Khan, who enlisted as a spy for the SOE (Strategic Operations Executive) during the second world war. This is a well-researched biography of Noor who was the great, great granddaughter of Tipu Sultan. She grew up in France, daughter of a Sufi musician Inayat Khan. The first part of the book is about her father mainly, who played a big part in forming her character and helps explain her close ties with her family. The book follows Noor as she along with her family escape to Oxford from France as it’s taken over by the German forces. Her decision to enrol in the Women’s Auxilliary Airforce(WAAF) in Britian is explained in her brother’s words, ‘How can one preach spiritual morality without participating in some sort of preventive action.’ From the WAAF, she was chosen to work for SOE as a radio operator.  Noor’s character is described beautifully from all the sources; her family, her different trainers, the German officers of Gestapo in the prisons that she was held in and many other people she encountered. She was “humble, shy, modest, polite, unselfish, nervous, extremely conscientious” - in other words, a lovely, ordinary girl with no prowess that would categorise her as exeptional spy material. An ordinary girl, turned extraordinary by the decisions she made, decision to serve others and always tell the truth. She was the longest-running radio operator in Paris and constantly had to evade German military and Gestapo and became the most-wanted on Gestapo’s list. The oppressive and dangerous environment of occupied France portrayed by the author had me on tenterhooks and constantly rooting for Noor even though I knew what would happen to her eventually.    I loved reading the additional information given in the book about the SOE, which was a precedent for the secret services that are part of every country now and also how Noor’s communication propelled other missions of British network in France.  My rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  29. 4 out of 5

    Edward Canade

    A few months ago I read The Splendid and the Vile: : A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, by Erik Larson. This book Code Name Madeleine: A Sufi Spy in Nazi-Occupied Paris, by Arthur J. Magida, was another view point of that period of time and added another perspective to what it was like to been directly effected by Hilter and the Nazi movement. In some ways it was depressing as the main character had her entire life up-ended and in the end destroyed. Noor Inayat Khan becam A few months ago I read The Splendid and the Vile: : A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, by Erik Larson. This book Code Name Madeleine: A Sufi Spy in Nazi-Occupied Paris, by Arthur J. Magida, was another view point of that period of time and added another perspective to what it was like to been directly effected by Hilter and the Nazi movement. In some ways it was depressing as the main character had her entire life up-ended and in the end destroyed. Noor Inayat Khan became an agent within British Intelligence and by her own sense of what is right, chooses to return to France from Britain where she and her family had fled. Noor had been brought up and raised near Paris and was living there when Hilter invaded. She is trained as a radio operator and is flown behind enemy line to work for the French underground resistance. She gives her life to it's service and after her death has been recognized for her heroism. But from the text I've got to say her successes were so mixed and her mistakes so costly I was left wondering if she made the right choice in life. It's a touching story. She is warm, and loving, and sincere but her mistakes cost peoples their lives. Those who have done the balance sheet seem to conclude that her efforts were not in vain and added more to the success of the Allied war efforts then they subtracted. I personally was left wondering after reading this book, but there is no doubt of her moral courage and strength of character.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    Tells the story of a Sufi-raised woman who has to flee France with her family as the Nazis march in. Arriving in England, Noor and her brother decide they can serve in the war effort without turning their backs on their Sufi upbringing so Noor begins training as a radio operator and is sent to Paris to transmit information back to England on Nazi whereabouts and plans as well as helping to bring other SOE personnel to France to disrupt the Nazi program. Noor is a quiet person. She does not seem t Tells the story of a Sufi-raised woman who has to flee France with her family as the Nazis march in. Arriving in England, Noor and her brother decide they can serve in the war effort without turning their backs on their Sufi upbringing so Noor begins training as a radio operator and is sent to Paris to transmit information back to England on Nazi whereabouts and plans as well as helping to bring other SOE personnel to France to disrupt the Nazi program. Noor is a quiet person. She does not seem to be a good fit for the SOE in England but she becomes one of their best agents eluding the Nazis far longer than other radio operators. She is a vital link in the line to defeat the Nazis. I liked that her upbringing was discussed as was a brief lesson on Sufism and how her teachings could affect her ability to serve during the war but how she was able to live true to her faith and yet successfully serve. Noor did not seem that she would fit into that world but to watch her was amazing. She was courageous even after her capture. I was saddened that no one would tell or knew how her life ended but she was an inspiration. I am glad I won this book on Goodreads. I learned much as I had never heard of her or heard much about SOE and their part of WWII.

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