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When Aline Griffith was born in a quiet suburban New York hamlet, no one had any idea that she would go on to live “a life of glamour and danger that Ingrid Bergman only played at in Notorious” (Time). As the US enters the Second World War, the young college graduate is desperate to aid in the war effort, but no one is interested in a bright-eyed young woman whose only car When Aline Griffith was born in a quiet suburban New York hamlet, no one had any idea that she would go on to live “a life of glamour and danger that Ingrid Bergman only played at in Notorious” (Time). As the US enters the Second World War, the young college graduate is desperate to aid in the war effort, but no one is interested in a bright-eyed young woman whose only career experience is modeling clothes. Aline’s life changes when, at a dinner party, she meets a man named Frank Ryan and reveals how desperately she wants to do her part for her country. Within a few weeks, he helps her join the Office of Strategic Services—forerunner of the CIA. With a code name and expert training under her belt, she is sent to Spain to be a coder, but is soon given the additional assignment of infiltrating the upper echelons of society, mingling with high-ranking officials, diplomats, and titled Europeans, any of whom could be an enemy agent. Against this glamorous backdrop of galas and dinner parties, she recruits sub-agents and engages in deep-cover espionage to counter Nazi tactics in Madrid. Even after marrying the Count of Romanones, one of the wealthiest men in Spain, Aline secretly continues her covert activities, being given special assignments when abroad that would benefit from her impeccable pedigree and social connections. Filled with twists, romance, and plenty of white-knuckled adventures fit for a James Bond film, The Princess Spy brings to vivid life the dazzling adventures of a remarkable American woman who risked everything to serve her country.


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When Aline Griffith was born in a quiet suburban New York hamlet, no one had any idea that she would go on to live “a life of glamour and danger that Ingrid Bergman only played at in Notorious” (Time). As the US enters the Second World War, the young college graduate is desperate to aid in the war effort, but no one is interested in a bright-eyed young woman whose only car When Aline Griffith was born in a quiet suburban New York hamlet, no one had any idea that she would go on to live “a life of glamour and danger that Ingrid Bergman only played at in Notorious” (Time). As the US enters the Second World War, the young college graduate is desperate to aid in the war effort, but no one is interested in a bright-eyed young woman whose only career experience is modeling clothes. Aline’s life changes when, at a dinner party, she meets a man named Frank Ryan and reveals how desperately she wants to do her part for her country. Within a few weeks, he helps her join the Office of Strategic Services—forerunner of the CIA. With a code name and expert training under her belt, she is sent to Spain to be a coder, but is soon given the additional assignment of infiltrating the upper echelons of society, mingling with high-ranking officials, diplomats, and titled Europeans, any of whom could be an enemy agent. Against this glamorous backdrop of galas and dinner parties, she recruits sub-agents and engages in deep-cover espionage to counter Nazi tactics in Madrid. Even after marrying the Count of Romanones, one of the wealthiest men in Spain, Aline secretly continues her covert activities, being given special assignments when abroad that would benefit from her impeccable pedigree and social connections. Filled with twists, romance, and plenty of white-knuckled adventures fit for a James Bond film, The Princess Spy brings to vivid life the dazzling adventures of a remarkable American woman who risked everything to serve her country.

30 review for The Princess Spy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Katie B

    I love reading about the contributions of women during World War 2. Aline Griffith grew up in New York and when her brothers left home to fight in the war, she wanted to do her part as well. She ended up being recruited to work for the Office of Strategic Services which was basically a precursor to the current day CIA. After secretive expert training, she was sent to work in Spain as a coder. With her model looks and charm, she was able to infiltrate the high society set in Madrid and provide us I love reading about the contributions of women during World War 2. Aline Griffith grew up in New York and when her brothers left home to fight in the war, she wanted to do her part as well. She ended up being recruited to work for the Office of Strategic Services which was basically a precursor to the current day CIA. After secretive expert training, she was sent to work in Spain as a coder. With her model looks and charm, she was able to infiltrate the high society set in Madrid and provide useful info to her bosses about the comings and goings of the ultra wealthy and powerful. Lots of people were working for the enemy, and part of Aline's job was identifying those individuals. Having read a few other nonfiction books about female spies, this one is less action based than others. The book focuses more on the people Aline surrounded herself with rather than going into great detail about her different tasks and missions. Aline wrote about her work during the war but there is some debate about what is truth vs. fiction. I think this author made the right call considering this is a nonfiction book in only writing about what is confirmed to be fact. Unfortunately, with this line of work so many things end up being taken to the grave rather than becoming public knowledge, but the author did a good job in presenting an overall view of Aline's work. I found Aline's life both during the war and after when she was married to the Count of Romanones to be fascinating. Even though the full extent of her work might never be known there's no doubt she was well-respected and considered a big asset. Not a bad life for a former model from New York. A well-researched book and worth reading if you enjoy WW2 history. Thank you to Atria Books for providing me with an advance copy! All thoughts expressed are my honest opinion.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    The book is well written and researched. It was particularly well documented. I found the footnotes, notes and bibliography helpful. The item that got my attention was in the preface of the book. Loftis said “For many war buffs, the testimony of spies is presumed false until proven true.” Spies never wrote things down or recounted details of their missions. Most of what they did is classified. Loftus took what Aline did and set out to prove what was true and what was false. I found this approach The book is well written and researched. It was particularly well documented. I found the footnotes, notes and bibliography helpful. The item that got my attention was in the preface of the book. Loftis said “For many war buffs, the testimony of spies is presumed false until proven true.” Spies never wrote things down or recounted details of their missions. Most of what they did is classified. Loftus took what Aline did and set out to prove what was true and what was false. I found this approach most fascinating. I appreciated the “Dramatis Personal” (a list of people in the story) and “The Rest of the Story” which summarized what happened to the various people. Loftis also included an overview history of Spain and its culture. I highly recommend this book. It is very easy to read. The book is 349 pages and is to be released in 2021 by Atria Books. I received an Advance Reader’s Edition from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I was gobsmacked to learn about this book, because in my youthful days working in book publishing, Aline was a friend of my boss and I remember her calling the office from time to time. I'm embarrassed to report that--with the supreme obliviousness of a 23 year old--I mentally categorized her as one of my boss's more elderly friends and wasn't curious about her at all. My boss was the CEO of the company that (I now realize) had published Aline's own books more than ten years prior. Loftis tries i I was gobsmacked to learn about this book, because in my youthful days working in book publishing, Aline was a friend of my boss and I remember her calling the office from time to time. I'm embarrassed to report that--with the supreme obliviousness of a 23 year old--I mentally categorized her as one of my boss's more elderly friends and wasn't curious about her at all. My boss was the CEO of the company that (I now realize) had published Aline's own books more than ten years prior. Loftis tries in this book to untangle the truth about Aline's espionage activities from a combination of archival records and her fictionalized published books. (It seems likely to me that my former boss, a connoisseur of thrills, had a hand in encouraging her to spice it up.) Born Aline Griffith in New York State, she had an unremarkable childhood until she got her start as a model in NYC after college. She happens to mention to an acquaintance that she wants to help in the war effort despite being a woman and is almost immediately inducted into the OSS, given lessons on codes and shooting, and flown posthaste to the espionage hotbed of supposedly neutral Spain. She arrived not long before D-Day, making this a perfect read to follow Ben Macintyre's Double Cross, which ends around the same place and time. In Madrid, Aline falls into a whirlwind social life of flamenco and bullfighting that brings her effortlessly into contact with prominent Spanish socialites, Nazi sympathizers, and suspected spies. Loftis portrays her colorful, racy lifestyle in a fun and vivid way--this was a far cry from ration coupons and blackout curtains, a very different war indeed. I thought the book had several flaws, not necessarily the author's fault since this is a true story. First, the book doesn't account for why OSS thought Aline, out of all the young women in New York, would make a good spy. It also doesn't explain how her cover story was believable or what her family or friends thought she was doing in Europe. Going to Spain in the middle of the war seems like a quite odd thing for a young American woman to do on her own and her cover job sounds like something she could have done in New York--why did the people in her life buy it? Second, at the end of the war, she makes the leap from coding clerk to active spy, but the author can't account for how she gets her information or from whom. There's probably no way to find this out in retrospect, but the party conversations where she managed to find out things like "who is transporting money via Spain to Argentina," while not seeming unusually curious, would be fascinating. My final point of dislike is more with Aline than with the book, and this her eagerness to drop spying. Once her relationship with the Count becomes serious, the story devolves into the details of having a custom wedding gown made, wearing a tiara, receiving both a wedding ring and a diamond bracelet from her fiancé, vacationing at a fancy castle, and so forth. These are the princess daydreams of a 13 year old and I would much rather have read the alternate-universe version where Aline accepts a job in Prague working for the fledgling CIA. The period after her marriage is a relatively small part of the book, and consists of hanging out in places like Marbella with miscellaneous other rich people. It's hard to square Loftis's portrayal of a passionately patriotic young woman with her later choice to have Wallis Simpson as a BFF, unless you figure that she was mainly interested in fame and wealth. In my publishing days, we would have said that this is a lot more "commercial" than Ben Macintyre's work, which is generally a sign that I like it less, but that more people will like it. Much as I've complained about not being able to read well during the pandemic, I polished this off in one afternoon on the sofa, which is a point in its favor. Review copy received from Edelweiss.

  4. 4 out of 5

    menna hafez

    Special thanks to NetGalley and Artria Books for providing me with ARC. This the first novel to.me by Larry Loftis but i loved it. The most amazing thing about this novel that the events are real, i love historical fiction so much because it made me know information about people that inspired the history.

  5. 4 out of 5

    J Earl

    The Princess Spy: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones by Larry Loftis is a phenomenal success as both a biography of a spy and the story of a spy. By that I mean it is compelling as both nonfiction while reading a lot like fiction. Many readers, myself included, enjoy both spy stories as well as true espionage stories. We also have different expectations for each. We certainly anticipate some excitement in both but are content when the nonfiction accounts don' The Princess Spy: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones by Larry Loftis is a phenomenal success as both a biography of a spy and the story of a spy. By that I mean it is compelling as both nonfiction while reading a lot like fiction. Many readers, myself included, enjoy both spy stories as well as true espionage stories. We also have different expectations for each. We certainly anticipate some excitement in both but are content when the nonfiction accounts don't read like the fictional accounts. This biography reads very much like a novel while being a true accounting of an exceptional person. That is almost like winning the lottery. While not particular to the espionage aspect, I was particularly drawn to the fact that so many things in our lives, things that later in life appear to others as inevitable, are the result of coincidence and being in the right place at the right time. If not for a casual conversation at a dinner party, this entire chapter of history might never have been written. As an aside, just ignore people who don't understand either socialism, Marxism, or the current incarnations of either. If this book illustrates any evil it is not of a particular ideology but of allowing tyrants and fascists to attain power, regardless of whether they cloak their power hungry actions as democracy, fascism, or communism. Highly recommended to readers of both history and fiction. Well researched and documented yet written in a way that will keep you turning pages. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.

  6. 4 out of 5

    N

    This nonfiction book is one of those compulsively readable stories. It’s an exciting story about a real person........a spy. She wanted to help the war effort and she put her life at risk to do that. Aline Griffiths early life was typical of a small town middle class upbringing but she was eager for adventure. Aline Griffith became involved in espionage. She was a valuable agent who carried out many missions in Spain. Her brothers were both overseas and she wanted to do her part and boy, did she This nonfiction book is one of those compulsively readable stories. It’s an exciting story about a real person........a spy. She wanted to help the war effort and she put her life at risk to do that. Aline Griffiths early life was typical of a small town middle class upbringing but she was eager for adventure. Aline Griffith became involved in espionage. She was a valuable agent who carried out many missions in Spain. Her brothers were both overseas and she wanted to do her part and boy, did she. The research is impeccable and impressive and the story is fascinating. The book is quite detailed but easy to read and accurately captures the sense of that time in history. There are also photos added to the book. Her friendships with famous people are interesting, especially with Juanito Delmonte, the famous Matador. Do you think that you would have been brave enough to do what Aline did? Thanks to Goodreads Giveaways and Atria books for the Advance Copy. This is a World War II story that you shouldn’t pass up. I loved it!!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nima Morgan

    Truly enjoyed this book. Larry Loftis does not disappoint. A Very fascinating read about how the "spies" in America were trained and placed in action during world war 2. I would highly recommend this book. Aline Griffith was an amazingly brave and strong woman who came across an amazing adventure. The book was well researched and would make an excellent movie. Thank you to NetGalley for giving me this opportunity to read and review this book. Truly enjoyed this book. Larry Loftis does not disappoint. A Very fascinating read about how the "spies" in America were trained and placed in action during world war 2. I would highly recommend this book. Aline Griffith was an amazingly brave and strong woman who came across an amazing adventure. The book was well researched and would make an excellent movie. Thank you to NetGalley for giving me this opportunity to read and review this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    theliterateleprechaun

    ‘The Princess Spy,’ written by Larry Loftis, is an exceptionally well-written biography of a World War II spy, Aline Griffith, to be published February 9, 2021. Aline, an American college graduate and model, became one of the Office of Strategic Service’s (forerunner of the CIA) most daring spies before she married into European royalty and became the Countess of Romanones. In this true story, Aline, desperate to ditch her modeling job and aid in the war effort, accidentally meets Frank Ryan, a ‘The Princess Spy,’ written by Larry Loftis, is an exceptionally well-written biography of a World War II spy, Aline Griffith, to be published February 9, 2021. Aline, an American college graduate and model, became one of the Office of Strategic Service’s (forerunner of the CIA) most daring spies before she married into European royalty and became the Countess of Romanones. In this true story, Aline, desperate to ditch her modeling job and aid in the war effort, accidentally meets Frank Ryan, a prominent OSS officer, at a party. This meeting changes the course of the rest of her life. Ryan, seeing potential, immediately hires her for the OSS and she’s whisked off to The Ranch for operative training. When she passes with flying colours, she’s given the code name BUTCH and sent to Spain to be a coder and go undercover to infiltrate high ranking society. Aline is told that this post is important because Spain is critical to the Allied success in the war. This girl who had never been on a plane nor farther away than “a stone’s throw from her backyard” is now flying in luxury on Pan American’s Yankee Clipper, the world’s largest aircraft, to her assignment in Madrid. What follows is an extraordinary climb up the social ladder as she mixes with royalty, haut couture designers, aristocrats and the Spanish elite. Finally, she captures the attention of Luis, one of the wealthiest men in Spain, but more importantly, the love of her life, and gives birth to 3 lovely boys. She continues her stealthy work and, unbeknownst to her husband, continues working for the CIA. In her defense, she admitted on her wedding night to being a spy, but Luis laughed at her and dismissed it as absurd! I loved this well-researched and well-documented memoir. It was refreshing to feel like I was rushing to catch up to the story rather than being spoon fed as some authors feel the need to do. I have no doubt that Loftis’s career as a corporate lawyer was instrumental in his success as a biographer. His impeccable presentation and fact sharing are excellent testament to his career. I appreciated use of primary as well as secondary sources and the willingness of the ‘inner lawyer’ to question validity and propose alternative theories. What I found most surprising was that Aline was willing to give up a $2400/y modeling career for a $3190/y job as a spy. I couldn’t understand that she would risk her life on a daily basis (knowing she didn’t have immunity if her cover was blown) for an extra $790 per year! She wouldn’t have known about the glitz and glamour, nor the people she’d be hobnobbing with prior to accepting the post. She risked everything to serve her country. You’ll be delighted with this fast-paced account showcasing the evolution of an all American girl’s involvement in a life of espionage, an unsuspecting mother of three’s life in the CIA as well as the glamourous life of a respected and loved friend to many world leaders and celebrities such as Nancy Reagan, Jacqueline Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn. Thank you to Larry Loftis, Atria Books and Netgalley for this exceptional advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    PollyStyrene

    Exquisitely researched, this book separates the truth from the fictional representations of an active spy in the European arena in the second world war. And what a truth it is! Aline Griffiths worked as a coder in Madrid, interacting with colourful characters at the very top echelon of the political, government, industry and social world. In her favourite Balenciaga, she attends balls, bullfights, weekend trips to grand estates, flamenco and cocktail parties and gives us a glimpse into Spanish s Exquisitely researched, this book separates the truth from the fictional representations of an active spy in the European arena in the second world war. And what a truth it is! Aline Griffiths worked as a coder in Madrid, interacting with colourful characters at the very top echelon of the political, government, industry and social world. In her favourite Balenciaga, she attends balls, bullfights, weekend trips to grand estates, flamenco and cocktail parties and gives us a glimpse into Spanish social customs of that time - a productive spy until she meets a Count, has a fairytale wedding and lives the happily ever after. The author, Larry Loftus gives us insight into the outcomes of her co-spies and the characters that we meet over the course of the book. You will love this book if you are a fan of fashion social intrigue, real life spy practises or history. On a separate note, because of its setting in World War II, Communism is discussed with its attendant horrors, a caution against the flirtation western civilizations seem to have with Marxism today - it’s well worth a read to see the effort the world put into eradicating that failed, ugly ideology.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    This true story about Aline Griffith was extremely well researched and very interesting. It was well written and read like a novel instead of non fiction. I read a lot of WWII fiction and really enjoyed this in depth look at one of the spies that helped the Allies win the war. This is a great book about a strong woman who wanted to do anything she could to help America win the war. Thanks to goodreads for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kristin (Always With a Book)

    Thank you Atria Books for the gifted copy. This is the first book I've read by Larry Loftis and while it is nonfiction, it really does not read like it. As soon as I was asked about this one, I knew I wanted to read it and I'm so glad I did...I don't read a lot of nonfiction but definitely want to change that. This book was so interesting and I found myself completely engaged all the way through. The way the author wrote it, it really does read more like a novel instead of a biography yet it is th Thank you Atria Books for the gifted copy. This is the first book I've read by Larry Loftis and while it is nonfiction, it really does not read like it. As soon as I was asked about this one, I knew I wanted to read it and I'm so glad I did...I don't read a lot of nonfiction but definitely want to change that. This book was so interesting and I found myself completely engaged all the way through. The way the author wrote it, it really does read more like a novel instead of a biography yet it is the true story of a female spy during WWII. I had never heard of Aline Griffith before picking up this book yet she was quite a fascinating woman, wanting to do her part in the war after her brothers left home to fight. A chance meeting at a dinner party leads to her joining the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) which was the precursor to the CIA. While she starts out as a code girl in Spain, she quickly moves on to attending high society events where she is able to mingle and spy with no one being the wiser. And even after she marries, she still continues her work, albeit at a slower pace than before. What is most interesting is that spies did not write anything down and most of what they did is considered classified, so the fact that Larry Loftis was able to sift through what Aline did and give us this book is nothing short of amazing. And not only did he give us a clear picture of what Aline's life was like as a coder and spy, but we also get a taste of what life was like in Spain at the time - the culture and lifestyle really came to life. I feel like I learned quite a bit about bullfighting while reading this! Aline's life as a spy really comes to life in this book. I myself cannot imagine being in her shoes but she really was quite adept at all the jobs she was handed and even when her life was in danger, it never seemed to throw her off course. I really enjoyed this book and will certainly be seeking out Larry Loftis's other books to add to my ever-growing reading pile! You can see all my reviews at: https://alwayswithabook.blogspot.com/

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christine Mott

    The Princess Spy By: Larry Loftis 5⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I was fortunate to get an ARC of this book after loving this authors previous book Code Name, Lise. This book is available February 9, 2021. 🕵️‍♀️ 🇪🇸 This book is the true story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones. A gripping story of a small town girl wanting to do her part in the war. She was recruited to spy in Spain. Before heading to Spain she learns about code, and other skills on The Farm. This part was fascinating to me. 🕵️‍♂ The Princess Spy By: Larry Loftis 5⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I was fortunate to get an ARC of this book after loving this authors previous book Code Name, Lise. This book is available February 9, 2021. 🕵️‍♀️ 🇪🇸 This book is the true story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones. A gripping story of a small town girl wanting to do her part in the war. She was recruited to spy in Spain. Before heading to Spain she learns about code, and other skills on The Farm. This part was fascinating to me. 🕵️‍♂️ 🇪🇸 While is Spain, she “works” as a clerk, attends parties, and becomes immersed in the culture. As a young lady she makes a name for herself and is admired by some of the most important men in the OSS as well as the locals. In plain site as she socializes with many Spaniards, Americans and Germans, she uncovers many secrets and potential double agents. She is soon courted by several important men. One is a famous bullfighter who introduces her to important people. 🕵️‍♀️ 🇪🇸 I enjoyed the intrigue, history and pictures included in this book. Aline went on the marry and have a family. She led an full life and was able publish several books about her experience. #theprincessspy, #larryloftis, #arc, #atriabooks, #stamperlady50, #bookstagram, #bookreview, #booksconnectus

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    I knew from the outset that I would love this book . One of my favorite subjects is non-fiction stories of WWII. And this book didn't disappoint. Aline Griffith , born in Pearl River, NY , wanted to do something for her country as WWII gained momentum . She applied to work for the government and was accepted. She was chosen to learn coding and was eventually sent to Spain. Her boss, Frank Ryan saw potential in her and she was taught to be a operative as well as coder. Europe was a whirlwind of m I knew from the outset that I would love this book . One of my favorite subjects is non-fiction stories of WWII. And this book didn't disappoint. Aline Griffith , born in Pearl River, NY , wanted to do something for her country as WWII gained momentum . She applied to work for the government and was accepted. She was chosen to learn coding and was eventually sent to Spain. Her boss, Frank Ryan saw potential in her and she was taught to be a operative as well as coder. Europe was a whirlwind of multiple sides, for Germany, for the Allies and those trying to stay neutral. The job was fantastic and she worked for the OSS which was a precursor of the CIA. As her skills were demonstrated, Ryan realized she could also be spy. She learned quickly and was soon involved with meeting people of all different backgrounds. ...good guys, bad guys and those in between. She was assigned to parties and meetings where she got to meet many people in the elite part of society. People who were for one side or the other or just for themselves. She was very good at her job. One of the more interesting situations she and I learned about was that a significant part of the German armed forces were very much against Hitler and were trying to stop him and stop the war. I never knew that ! I promise that those who have the same interest as I do about WWII will find this book fascinating and difficult to put down. Aline Griffith was a true hero for this country and I hope the future brings more light on her and her achievements !!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Melisende

    For me, this was more like cosy-espionage, a new term I am applying to works on espionage where there is not really a lot of espionage substance. Much of Aline's "work" was social - meeting and mingling with society notables to gain access to any information that might come her way. The odd bits of derring-do come in the form of being tailed by "associates" of a jealous boyfriend (a bull-fighter of renown) and a short spell of imprisonment. Her work was carried out in the last year or so of the w For me, this was more like cosy-espionage, a new term I am applying to works on espionage where there is not really a lot of espionage substance. Much of Aline's "work" was social - meeting and mingling with society notables to gain access to any information that might come her way. The odd bits of derring-do come in the form of being tailed by "associates" of a jealous boyfriend (a bull-fighter of renown) and a short spell of imprisonment. Her work was carried out in the last year or so of the war in Europe - and with the surrender of the Germans, her work - for all intents and purposes - was over. The author himself lets us know quite early on that even he was unsure if her story was even true, and that numerous events in her memoirs are indeed highly imagined. The constant adjustments to her narrative in her own books did not help matters in her favour. This is a very readable story of a small town girl, who went from model to spy to novelist to celebrity all in one incredible lifetime.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mylie

    Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 stars from me for The Princess Spy. While it might be my status as only a casual reader of spy novels/nonfiction, I found it hard to get into this one. Spain, though technically neutral during the Second World War, was a hot spot for both Allied and Axis espionage, and Larry Loftis tells Aline Griffith' story as first a code clerk and then an agent for the OSS, beginning in Madrid in 1944 and progressing into the post-WWII Cold Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 stars from me for The Princess Spy. While it might be my status as only a casual reader of spy novels/nonfiction, I found it hard to get into this one. Spain, though technically neutral during the Second World War, was a hot spot for both Allied and Axis espionage, and Larry Loftis tells Aline Griffith' story as first a code clerk and then an agent for the OSS, beginning in Madrid in 1944 and progressing into the post-WWII Cold War years. Later in life, Griffith (now the Countess of Romanones) wrote a series of books detailing her adventures during and after the war. Loftis addresses this in the preface, stating that a number of historians have called her books complete fabrications. However, Loftis has done his own research and finds that there although there is heavy imagination/embellishment within her books, her story is "quite legitimate", which I find to be a bit of a contradiction. Because of this ambiguity, I have a tough time addressing how much of the purported spywork in this book is true. Loftis does say that every piece of dialogue in the text is a direct quote from a primary source, but without delving into those, it's interesting that this book would refute what the New York Times wrote in Griffith's obituary in 2017. That being said, you cannot say that Aline Griffith did not lead an interesting life in her 90+ years, or during the events covered in this book. From when she was first flown to Madrid (via Lisbon) in a Pan Am Clipper flying boat, the height of luxury in 1944, Griffith led an interesting life during the last year or so of the war, cavorting within Spanish high society and meeting the various multinational characters living in Spain at that period. I found the best parts of the book to be related to life and customs in Spain, particularly around the tradition of bullfighting. Learning about Griffith's purported decision to walk away from espionage to marry her husband, Luis de Figueroa, Count of Romanones, was also an interesting section, especially when learning about his involvement in the Spanish Civil War (before they met) and the life they shared together after their wedding. Again, it might be my weakness as a reader, but I found that the book was light on details on Griffith's actual spying in Madrid. I do read more than my share of WWII non-fiction and historical fiction, but I admittedly don't read a lot of spy novels or histories. I found that the described events of WWII-era Madrid was largely observation of suspected Axis spies in social settings, which I suppose is spying, but it wasn't always the most engaging.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cassie’s Reviews

    One of my New Year Resolutions this year is to read more non fictional books. I was so excited when the publisher sent me this book I could not put it down once I started it. This book was beautifully written and I immediately was drawn to Aline Griffith. Aline wants to serve her country during World War Two since her two brothers are serving, working as a model and a college graduate, and as a woman she cannot serve and being a nurse would take to long, a chance meeting over dinner changes her One of my New Year Resolutions this year is to read more non fictional books. I was so excited when the publisher sent me this book I could not put it down once I started it. This book was beautifully written and I immediately was drawn to Aline Griffith. Aline wants to serve her country during World War Two since her two brothers are serving, working as a model and a college graduate, and as a woman she cannot serve and being a nurse would take to long, a chance meeting over dinner changes her life completely when she meets a man name Frank Ryan. She soon finds herself training at a place called The Ranch where she learns coding, she soon realizes she’s training with the Office Of Strategic Services, which is a forerunner of the CIA. When she passes she’s given the nickname BUTCH and is sent to Spain. Spain is important to the allied success in the war and also serves as a neutral ground for allies. Once in Spain shes undercover and plays herself as high society, she climbs the social ladder where no one blinks an eye when she mixes with designers, royalty and Spanish elite and even Bull fighters, all while attending dinners and parties ,she’s sending back any information she uncovers to the United States, along with passing files and anything else she’s asked she even gets herself arrested. When she catches the eye of Luis de Figueroa Count of Romanones and finds herself falling in love everything changes. This book did not read like a non fiction, I was glued to the pages and I loved all the extra information about the amazing people she met along her journey. I’m giving this five stars!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn Ast

    Was a good WWII narrative.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Adrianna Lamm

    Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The Princess Spy written by Larry Loftis, is an exceptionally well-written biography of a World War II spy, Aline Griffith, to be published February 9, 2021. This is the first time I have read anything written by Larry Loftis. Aline, an American college graduate and model, became one of the Office of Strategic Service’s (forerunner of the CIA) most daring spies before she married into European royalty and became the Countess of Roma Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The Princess Spy written by Larry Loftis, is an exceptionally well-written biography of a World War II spy, Aline Griffith, to be published February 9, 2021. This is the first time I have read anything written by Larry Loftis. Aline, an American college graduate and model, became one of the Office of Strategic Service’s (forerunner of the CIA) most daring spies before she married into European royalty and became the Countess of Romanones. I enjoyed his writing stayle. The plot line of this book was new to me. I have read a few historical fiction books but none were about a princess being a spy. I would recommend this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kitty

    If you like non-fiction that reads like a thriller, this is the book for you. Aline wanted to serve the U.S. in WWII, like her brothers. A friend recognized her potential and recommended her to the O.S.S. to train as a spy. The book follows her time in Spain gathering intelligence to help bring down the Nazi's. Through her "job" with American oil companies, she socialized with the Spanish k, listening to gossip to expose Nazi sympathizers. This is fascinating story that was hard to put down. #Ne If you like non-fiction that reads like a thriller, this is the book for you. Aline wanted to serve the U.S. in WWII, like her brothers. A friend recognized her potential and recommended her to the O.S.S. to train as a spy. The book follows her time in Spain gathering intelligence to help bring down the Nazi's. Through her "job" with American oil companies, she socialized with the Spanish k, listening to gossip to expose Nazi sympathizers. This is fascinating story that was hard to put down. #NetGalley

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    Most accounts of Allied spies in World War II highlight their heroic exploits. Stealing top-secret documents. Operating clandestine radios. Leading scores or hundreds of Resistance fighters in battle. Or blowing up Nazi troop trains. Aline Griffith did none of these things. But the fascinating story Larry Loftis tells in The Princess Spy reminds us that espionage then involved a great deal more than fighting on the front lines. His tale of a middle-class American woman who became an OSS spy and Most accounts of Allied spies in World War II highlight their heroic exploits. Stealing top-secret documents. Operating clandestine radios. Leading scores or hundreds of Resistance fighters in battle. Or blowing up Nazi troop trains. Aline Griffith did none of these things. But the fascinating story Larry Loftis tells in The Princess Spy reminds us that espionage then involved a great deal more than fighting on the front lines. His tale of a middle-class American woman who became an OSS spy and married into Spanish nobility offers its own rewards for readers eager to understand World War II in depth. Four neutral countries in Europe were hotbeds of espionage during the war. Axis and Allied spies virtually tripped over one another in the major cities of Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, and Spain. The activity was especially intense in Madrid. There, American and British spies and diplomats helped downed Allied airmen fleeing over the border from France and worked to minimize the Spanish government’s help for the Nazis. And it was there in Madrid, early in 1944, that a twenty-three-year-old American fashion model named Aline Griffith (1920-2017) arrived as a neophyte OSS spy. World War II was drawing to a close Entering a hotbed of espionage Griffith trained in spycraft at The Farm. She became adept at such arts as lockpicking, pickpocketing, and safecracking as well as ciphers and hand-to-hand combat. She was prepared for a battle she would never encounter. Griffith arrived in Spain only a few months before D-Day (June 6, 1944), which would lead to the end of the war in Europe in less than a year. But no one knew that then. Many military observers expected the fighting to continue into 1946 or ’47. And hundreds of Nazi agents representing the Abwehr, the Gestapo, and the Sicherheitsdienst worked in Nationalist Spain, sometimes openly supported by officials of Francisco Franco‘s government. By contrast, the OSS had small numbers of agents in place, and the American ambassador disdained espionage. For American spies like Griffith, the challenges were immense. But Aline Griffith wasn’t destined to tangle with enemy agents or steal secrets. She worked under non-diplomatic cover as a code clerk for the American Oil Control Commission. And her job was to circulate in Spain’s high society and keep her eyes and ears open for signs of Nazi activity. In other words, listen for gossip. Hobnobbing with European royalty For the bright, vivacious, and beautiful former fashion model, the assignment was a natural. “In Madrid less than a day and already she had an admirer. A celebrity, no less.” It was Juanito Belmonte, one of Spain’s wealthiest and most famous bullfighters. He was the son of the legendary Juan Belmonte, who was “even more famous than Franco.” Juanito pursued Griffith for months. He took her to the capital’s most exclusive restaurants and night clubs and introduced her to celebrities from all across Europe. Soon, she was mingling with European royalty and attracting attention from other handsome, wealthy, and important men. She became a fashion icon, showcasing the dresses of Cristóbal Balenciaga and other haute couture designers. Griffith’s life was a whirlwind of elegant dinners, parties, and balls in the palatial homes of Spanish nobles. Her dates at these gatherings, and her friends, were Europe’s elite, some of them ardently pro-Nazi so long as Germany’s victory still looked plausible. And she proved adept at distilling meaningful intelligence from the gossip that swirled around her. Because not only had she worked as a runway model. She was also a college graduate and a quick study with a fine analytical mind that impressed her handlers in the OSS. Finally, an assignment as a front-line agent But it was not until February 1945 that Aline Griffith became what we would expect of an OSS spy: a field agent on dangerous assignments. The end of the war in Europe was three months away. The US government was concerned about the wealth and looted treasures that Nazi officials were flooding through Spain on their way to South America and other safe harbors. Griffith’s job was to identify the players in this high-stakes game and to learn how they moved their money. And that work continued long after the war in Europe officially drew to a close. Even after President Truman shut down the OSS (September 20, 1945), Griffith continued to dog the footsteps of such suspects as Austrian Prince Maximilian Egon von Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1897-1968) and the Countess of Fürstenberg, née Gloria Rubio (1912-80). “The OSS was certain that Max had been getting money out of Spain, but it was up to Aline to figure out how and through whom.” That she did, working as an OSS spy in Project Safehaven (1944-48). She learned, though, that the Countess of Fürstenberg was not working for the Nazis, despite indications suggesting she was. After the end of the war Marrying into royalty Some time after Juanito Belmonte faced the fact that Aline Griffith wasn’t in love with him, another suitor had surfaced. He was the handsome and fabulously wealthy Luis Figueroa y Pérez de Guzmán el Bueno, Count of Quintanilla (1918–1987). His grandfather was none other than Álvaro de Figueroa y Torres-Sotomayor (1863-1950), best known as the Count of Romanones. Figueroa was the former prime minister and principal adviser to the king before the Spanish Civil War. Grandson Luis was dating her best friend but doggedly pursued Griffith nonetheless despite repeated brushoffs and missed dates because of her missions as a spy. Eventually, however, she agreed to marry him. (She had tried to tell him about her work as an OSS spy, but he refused to believe it was anything but fantasy.) The wedding took place in 1947. Years later, after the Count’s grandfather and father had both passed away, she gained the title Countess of Romanones. It was under that name that she gained fame in later years as a fashion icon and denizen of the international jet set. Her closest friends were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Audrey Hepburn and her husband, Mel Ferrer. Continuing espionage after the OSS was disbanded Loftis makes his most valuable contribution to our understanding of history in his account of the immediate post-war period. For two years, from the closure of the OSS on September 20, 1945 to the launch of the Central Intelligence Agency two years later (September 18, 1947), the United States no longer had a government-sanctioned foreign intelligence service. But Griffith and a small number of other tightly selected former OSS operatives kept working in Europe under private auspices. With a blue-ribbon board of directors that included OSS Director William J. Donovan (1883-1959) and funding from the Mellon banking fortune, the man who had recruited Griffith to the OSS led a company called the World Commerce Corporation. He hired a number of the most successful OSS agents to continue work until the American government woke up to the necessity for a permanent spy agency. Aline Griffith was among the elect. It was under this private cover that she continued to track the transfer of Nazi-looted assets on their way out of Europe. And once the CIA came into existence, Griffith was called upon for “odd jobs” from time to time. (Records of those assignments remain classified.) The countess—never a princess, as the title claims—truly was a spy. The sources of this story During her long life—Aline Griffith was eighty-six years old when she died in 2017—she wrote five memoirs. Her books had titles like The Spy Wore Red (1987), The Spy Went Dancing (1990), and The Spy Wore Silk (1991). The books sold well. Unfortunately, they mixed fiction with fact. And the author of this nonfiction account caught her in lie after lie as his research progressed. She changed dates and hid the real names of many of those she worked with in the war, even “changing her own code name—from BUTCH to TIGER.” She also included fantastic accounts of gunfights and other adventures she never experienced. “Her spy books must be regarded as historical fiction; some parts are true, many others not.” Still, the basic facts were there in the memoirs. Aline Griffith really did work as an intelligence agent from 1944 to 1947, including work as in the field for the OSS from February 1945 to August 15, 1945.” She continued to serve as an employee of World Commerce and for years afterward on special missions for the CIA. And “she was a highly productive and valuable agent, producing some fifty-nine field reports for the OSS, far more than any other Madrid agent, and had more subagents working for her than” all but two of her superiors. About the author Larry Loftis has published scholarly legal articles as well as two bestselling nonfiction books. The Princess Spy is the second of those books. He lives in Florida, where he practices law. Loftis holds a B.A. in Political Science and a J.D., both from the University of Florida.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey Anderson

    Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced e-copy of The Princess Spy!! The title of this book was what caught my eye. I had never heard of Aline Griffith before so I was very interested to find out more about her. This book so very well written and well paced. I was hooked right away and could not put this book. Anyone who loves history will like this book and I intend to read more of author Larry Loftis’ books. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone who is looking for som Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced e-copy of The Princess Spy!! The title of this book was what caught my eye. I had never heard of Aline Griffith before so I was very interested to find out more about her. This book so very well written and well paced. I was hooked right away and could not put this book. Anyone who loves history will like this book and I intend to read more of author Larry Loftis’ books. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone who is looking for something new to read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Robert Huddleston

    THE PRINCESS SPY by Larry Loftis (2021) Let me be up-front: THE PRINCESS SPY: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones by historian Larry Loftis is on a roll to become a bestseller. It is well-written, includes some excellent research and, with "Princess" and "Spy" on the cover, is certain to fly off the shelves of libraries and book sellers . Having said this, however, I must add that this ""nonfiction biography," as classified by Publishers Weekly, the source fo THE PRINCESS SPY by Larry Loftis (2021) Let me be up-front: THE PRINCESS SPY: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones by historian Larry Loftis is on a roll to become a bestseller. It is well-written, includes some excellent research and, with "Princess" and "Spy" on the cover, is certain to fly off the shelves of libraries and book sellers . Having said this, however, I must add that this ""nonfiction biography," as classified by Publishers Weekly, the source for booksellers and librarians, is flawed, a fact readers ought to take into account as they enjoy the book. THE PRINCESS SPY is a re-do of Aline Griffith's 1987 bestselling memoir THE SPY WORE RED: My Adventures as an Undercover Agent in World War II. But to do a "re-do" of Aline's memoir, author Loftis must cross the Ribicon away from misinformation and omission of important facts. "The bigger question I wanted to answer," he noted in his preface, " was whether she fictionalized or embellished all or most of her exploits. If she did, I realized, I'd have to find another spy to write about." He answered his question with THE PRINCESS SPY. (Nigel West, a recognized expert on espionage, declared her memoir(s) "to be nothing more than a product of her imagination.") Author Aline Griffith of Pearl River, NY filled her WW II memoir with violent activities created to introduce her as a virtual "Jane Bond" of espionage when, in fact, she was a civil service clerk, grade 5 employed by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), predecessor of today's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). These violent activities assassinations, murders, wild car chases and the like, would have drawn the ire of Spain's dictator, Francisco Franco. Agents from both sides of the European conflict were allowed in "neutral" Spain provided they operated under conditions laid down by Franco: no violence. One gunshot signaled a counter-revolution, a fear of all dictators. Author Loftis accepted these violent events as "historical fiction" -with one exception: a "bloody body" Aline discovered in her bed which she had to disposed of." Loftis believed the story. I do not. I learned of Aline's 1987 [untruthful] memoir from a review in the NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW. It was titled, Ze Body Is in the Grand Piano [stuffed in there by my wife's father, my further father in law]. Inexplicable, the review had been assigned to Michael Gross, the Times fashion editor a critic with no apparent knowledge of Spain in World War II or of the OSS. This explains his snarky comment about one of OSS's most productive secret agents, Edmundo Lassalle, operating under cover of being the European Representative of the Walt Disney Company. This propelled Edmundo's daughter, Pepita, her mother Emilie and his future son in law,to set the record straight. The first step was to attend a two day conference organized by the National Archives in Washington July 11-12, 1991, the purpose being to announce and review newly released records of the OSS. The program included talks by OSS veterans and current and past leaders of the CIA . Launched by an enjoyable cocktail party [paid for those invited to attend], We not only met Aline, Countess of Romanones, we chatted with many of the OSS veterans and CIA leaders. Even more valuable, we met the chief archivist of World War II documents, John Taylor, whom we would consult when we researched the newly released OSS records. From this came Edmundo: from Chiapas, Mexico to Park Avenue: The true story of a Mexican-American who became a World War II spy and married a German Princess (2007). John Taylor, I'm pleaded to say, congratulated me for producing an excellent biography. My book became a key source of information for THE PRINCESS SPY. During her first year in wartime Spain, Aline was employed as a civil service clerk, grade 5, trained to de-code messages passing through the OSS Madrid station. Off-duty she became a regular of Madrid's social life where she occasionally picked-up information worth reporting to her superiors.(Pro -Germany Spain hosted thousands of Nazi agents as well as German businesspersons.}Aline's job changed in July, 1945 when she was reassigned to serve as a civil service grade 7 "Intelligence Agent," code name Butch. By early 1945, it was apparent that Germany would be defeated, With the end of the conflict looming, Edmundo Lassalle was assigned the lead OSS agent in executing Project Safehaven which, among othe things, was "to prevent Germany from sequestering, assets (including loot and German gold} in neutral countries" Also, "to prevent the escape of possible war criminals" through Spain. Edmundo, however, had shifted his attention to courting Princess Agatha Ratibor, divorcing his wife Emilie, and seeking permanent employment as the European Representative of the Disney Company. (As important as Project Safehaven was, Edmundo used his "home leave" to return to Washington to inform his wife of his desired divorce, then on to Hollywood to meet Walt Disney in an effort to remain on Disney's payroll as his European Representative.} Needless to say, government bookkeepers were puzzled as to how Edmundo could be employed by the OSS and the Disney Company at the same time. This became a troubling issue as his OSS service was terminated.) The void in executing PROJECT SAFEHAVEN, created by Edmundo's shifting interests, was left to newly designated secret agent, Aline Griffith, the 22 tear-old former New York fashion model. Aline's attention, at that time, however, was on Luis, a Spanish Count, reputed to be the wealthiest bachelor in Spain.. I remain convinced that Aline's memoirs were, as espionage expert Nigel concluded, "be regarded as fiction." (One of her secretaries in New York in the 1980s said Aline, in private, referred to her memoirs as "factions," a blend of facts and fiction.) But untruthful as her memoirs are, this should not nullify her contributions to PROJECT SAFEHAVEN. Historian Loftis deals with the issue exceedingly well plying OSS records not yet available when I was writing my biography of Edmundo Lassalle. To end this review:: THE PRINCESS SPY is a well-written and interesting book that should be read and enjoyed. But readers are misled by the book being marketed as a :"nonfiction biography." Most of what is taken from her memoir, THE SPY WORE RED, should be read as fiction. Her contributions to PROJECT SAFE- HAVEN, however, were confirmed by Loftis and probably had resulted in a good performance report by her OSS superiors. EPILOGUE: President Truman abolished the OSS on August i, 1945. While this terminated what the agency had been established to do, he failed to "drive a stake through its'heart," and it appears to live on with the BRITISH AND AMERICAN CANADIAN CORPORATION. (BACC). Later, the WORLD COMMERCE CORPORATION (WCC). Led by Frank Ryan, the talented former head of the OSS Iberian Desk, Ryan employed Aline Griffith who soon became Aline, Countess of Romanones. With Aline still [apparently] in the spy business, historian Loftis extended his so-called "Biography" well-beyond the OSS drawing much information from THE SPY WENT DANCING: My Further Adventures as an Undercover Agent (1990). Was the Countess a post-World War II CIA agent? That issue remains "mysterious," notes the author, but--hopefully--there is a sequel in the works. I certainly hope so, he's a fine writer rigorous in research that produces amazing facts.. Robert Huddleston Chapel Hill, NC

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Johnson

    The Princess spy is the true story of small town girl Aline Griffin. She wishes to find a way to help with the war effort and begins a career with the OSS, the precursor to the CIA. She is posted to Spain as a coder and thus begins a fascinating view of the intelligence gathering and a rich serving of the culture and role of Spain during WWII. The book is well researched and written. It offers a good picture of the war years, then a brief sketch of the years following Aline's marriage and resign The Princess spy is the true story of small town girl Aline Griffin. She wishes to find a way to help with the war effort and begins a career with the OSS, the precursor to the CIA. She is posted to Spain as a coder and thus begins a fascinating view of the intelligence gathering and a rich serving of the culture and role of Spain during WWII. The book is well researched and written. It offers a good picture of the war years, then a brief sketch of the years following Aline's marriage and resignation from intelligence gathering. It was nice that the end of the book offered several pages following instrumental people in the narrative. Thanks to NetGalley for the chance to read and review this title.

  24. 4 out of 5

    CynnieRose

    I was obsessed with The Spy Wore Red when I read it in the 1980s. I appreciate the research and narrative power of this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alli

    I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I found this to be a very interesting book. Too often, books about global events such as wars, if they talk about women at all, only talk about them in reference to victimhood at the hands of enemy soldiers. The roles of women in wartime are so often ignored, even as they play vital roles both at home, as with the women who took over factory and land jobs, or abroad, such as with medical corps or, as in this book, as spies. Th I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I found this to be a very interesting book. Too often, books about global events such as wars, if they talk about women at all, only talk about them in reference to victimhood at the hands of enemy soldiers. The roles of women in wartime are so often ignored, even as they play vital roles both at home, as with the women who took over factory and land jobs, or abroad, such as with medical corps or, as in this book, as spies. This is a well written book that relies not just on the subjects own writings about her experiences as a spy in Spain in the last years of WWII, but on official records, communiques, and files. Given that the subject herself wrote books based on her life with various levels of disclosure and fictionalization, I particularly appreciated the author's commentaries on where and when certain events were described elsewhere. As for the story itself, it was interesting to see all the ways Aline found to integrate herself, intentionally as well as accidentally, into the elite Spanish society at a time when, as the book describes, Madrid was full of Franco supporters, Spanish nobles keeping their own opinions about the monarchy quiet, and Nazis using the city as a base for smuggling money, loot, and war criminals out of Europe. I do find it somewhat hard to believe that, the day an American woman arrives in Madrid, she goes to a restaurant, and without ever meeting the man, manages to entice a renowned bullfighter into arriving at her door the next day to court her. Times gone by, I guess. If I have a complaint about this book, is that it focuses so heavily on the romantic attachments she developed. I realize that the author was restricted in his retelling based on classified information and trying to tease out the truth from the fictions that Aline put out there, but the romances, except for the moments that they intersected the espionage, were the least interesting part of the book, especially since her marriage to the heir to the Count of Quintanilla, who then went on to be Count of Romanones, was so terribly glossed over at the end of the book. It would have been more interesting if we got more detail about her life after the fact; I could go read her wikipedia page and essentially get the same information (minus some details about the manor she helps restore). There was one other thing that bothered me about the writing of the book: the author would have these random cliffhangers that he would not return to several chapters and... it would be boring. For example, one person in the story is infatuated with a princess of German descent, and we end the chapter with a comment that the man hasn't been entirely honest. Given that he is an American spy, one would think the secret was that he was a double agent or something. But nope. A few chapters later, it turns out he was just already married with a daughter, that he was going to ditch for the princess. It felt like all of these tiny cliffhangers were like that. Mildly enticing, but then fall flat on their face. It affected the pacing more than anything. Overall though, an enjoyable book that provides insight into an American espionage location (Spain) that most people probably have never thought of being terribly interesting, given everything else going on during WWII.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    THE PRINCESS SPY is pure nonfiction, but it’s also an enjoyable read. Author Larry Loftis keeps the excitement going from the first page of the prologue. We read about a strange noise outside Aline Griffith’s apartment window in Madrid. Then the shutters are pried open, and a hand pushes back the curtains. Loftis writes, “She raised the gun.” Chapter one begins in Estoril, Portugal, on May 24, 1941. We don’t learn the identity of the intruder, or if Aline fired her weapon, until much later in the THE PRINCESS SPY is pure nonfiction, but it’s also an enjoyable read. Author Larry Loftis keeps the excitement going from the first page of the prologue. We read about a strange noise outside Aline Griffith’s apartment window in Madrid. Then the shutters are pried open, and a hand pushes back the curtains. Loftis writes, “She raised the gun.” Chapter one begins in Estoril, Portugal, on May 24, 1941. We don’t learn the identity of the intruder, or if Aline fired her weapon, until much later in the book. Like many successful mystery writers, Loftis frequently leaves us hanging at the end of a chapter, forcing us to keep reading so we can find out what someone is hiding or who the person behind the curtain really is. While Aline herself had written several books about her life (decades ago, I read THE SPY WORE RED and enjoyed it immensely), Loftis informs us in the preface that accounts of her years as an OSS agent (and later as a CIA agent) contained many embellishments. However, after extensive research, he shares his conclusions with us: “[T]here’s no question that Aline was an active, highly valued operational agent, but her spy books must be regarded as historical fiction; some parts are true, many others not.” THE PRINCESS SPY is a meticulously researched, beautifully crafted work of nonfiction that reads like a James Bond thriller. And, ironically, Ian Fleming is mentioned here. While including facts about the war and Spain’s part in it, often with footnotes that share even more information, the book is filled with a novel-like telling of Aline’s life --- from her childhood in suburban New York, when she meets Frank Ryan, who eventually hires her as an OSS code agent, to her time at “The Farm” in D.C., where spies are trained. We follow her as she rides the flying boat the Clipper across the Atlantic, and we learn about her subsequent time in Madrid and other parts of Europe. We also discover her encounter with an extremely wealthy aristocrat and how their marriage comes about. Here's how Loftis sums up Aline’s incredible life: “She’d lived an extraordinarily multifaceted life as a small-town girl, a model, a spy, a wife, a mother, a socialite, a fashion icon, and a celebrity. She’d left the safety of home and put herself in danger in order to help defeat the Nazi threat, then found the love of her life in a fairytale romance. Aline was smart, resourceful, determined, and fearless.” There are over 60 pages of notes in which Loftis, chapter by chapter, cites the sources for his text and explains where and why he changed Aline’s own account. The result is a story that is filled with humor, authentic dialogue, historical information about WWII and the Spanish Civil War, a glimpse into the Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner of the CIA), and fascinating details about how the rich and famous lived almost a century ago. Reviewed by Pamela Kramer

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jean-Luc

    A very entertaining but easily forgotten biography of Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones, the America born Spanish aristocrat & socialite who spent her entire life trying to convince people that she actually was the female equivalent of James Bond. Born in 1923 in NYC, Griffith was working as a model (of course) when she was recruited in 1943 by the OSS (US office of strategic services) and sent to play Nancy Drew at all the cocktail parties in Madrid at the tail end of WWII, during Franco di A very entertaining but easily forgotten biography of Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones, the America born Spanish aristocrat & socialite who spent her entire life trying to convince people that she actually was the female equivalent of James Bond. Born in 1923 in NYC, Griffith was working as a model (of course) when she was recruited in 1943 by the OSS (US office of strategic services) and sent to play Nancy Drew at all the cocktail parties in Madrid at the tail end of WWII, during Franco dictatorship. Well she pottered around so well & so much that by 1947 she had managed to get married to a Spanish Grandee, the uxorious Luis Figueroa y Perez de Guzman, future count de Romanones, a spineless horse loving aristocrat and dimwitted Franco supporter, a wealthy man that she successfully kept on a leash until death released him from his marital bonds in 1987. It's simply impossible for me to take a biography of Aline Griffith too seriously because she is a woman who fiercely controlled her life narrative and I strongly believe that most of her autobiographical arguments were simply fictitious. Reading this biography felt like reading the biography of an air pocket. Griffith, now Countess of Romanones, spent the rest of her jetset existence between New York and Madrid, getting her Jacqueline Susann hairdos on the glossy covers of Hola magazine here in Spain, fighting hard to make the best dressed list of the year, blasted on Martinis and gossiping with all the useless European royalties and having her pictures taken with Nancy Reagan, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Onassis. Yes a very entertaining biography if you want to take a nostalgic tour of the second half of the 20th century through the lives of the rich & famous but a waste of time if your like more substance when reading a biography. Finally, I had just moved to Spain from France in 2017 when Griffith passed away. And you will never guess....Her heirs went in for the kill and they are still at it. Even beyond the grave that pushy, overbearing and imperious matriarch manages to get her picture in the Spanish press😉🤣🤣 Many thanks to Netgalley and Atria Books for giving me the opportunity to read this hilarious biography prior to its release date

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I’ve read a lot of World War II stories but I must say, The Princess Spy is the first book I’ve read, that really delves into the espionage world. The research alone that went into this book is impressive! I obtained a physical copy and enjoyed marking lots of details I want to go back and read and do a bit of my own research. I also enjoyed the images throughout the book. That was a nice touch and really helped bring it all to reality. I don’t think I’ve paid attention to just how many different I’ve read a lot of World War II stories but I must say, The Princess Spy is the first book I’ve read, that really delves into the espionage world. The research alone that went into this book is impressive! I obtained a physical copy and enjoyed marking lots of details I want to go back and read and do a bit of my own research. I also enjoyed the images throughout the book. That was a nice touch and really helped bring it all to reality. I don’t think I’ve paid attention to just how many different government agencies had spies in Europe during World War II until reading about it in these pages. Absoultuly fascinating and absorbing. I found it all incredible, really, because I’m still trying to wrap my head around the ins and outs of how it all worked. Could anyone? That said, Loftis does a marvelous job with drawing you in and gives you an understanding how much of it operated. I’m impressed with Loftis taking on this project and telling Aline’s role during the war. Too often, throughout our history, women’s roles were largely ignored. She lived an astonishing life, and went from your average American girl to being a spy, and becoming friends with and related to the elitist society. I was amazed with how many people she knew and her, “schedule,” to say the least. The energy she had, I’m sure, is part of what made her a great spy. What a brave woman. I immensely enjoyed reading about her friendship with Juanito Belmonte. He was a Spaniard and a wealthy Matader-Bullfighter who spotted Aline when she first arrived to Madrid and sought her out. Before reading about Bullfighting in this book, I was turned off by the sport-if you will. Well, I’ve changed my mind and found the details of Bullfighting to being an art and intriguing. Be sure to read the epilogue and notes at the back of the book. You’ll get more insight into the people Loftis wrote about and what he had left out. A must read! Stephanie Hopkins www.layeredpages.com My thanks to Artria Books for providing me with ARC.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Potaithlin

    The Princess Spy: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones by Larry Loftis was an enjoyable and interesting read. The plot description was what encouraged me to read this true story. Aline who was born in a small suburban American town wants to help her country in the war effort, and she gets the opportunity after attending a dinner party meeting Frank Ryan, who helps her join the Office of Strategic Services and is rigorously trained to be a spy and coder. Comple The Princess Spy: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones by Larry Loftis was an enjoyable and interesting read. The plot description was what encouraged me to read this true story. Aline who was born in a small suburban American town wants to help her country in the war effort, and she gets the opportunity after attending a dinner party meeting Frank Ryan, who helps her join the Office of Strategic Services and is rigorously trained to be a spy and coder. Completing her training, Aline was sent to Madrid, Spain, to be a coder and to also infiltrate higher society in search of information and potential enemy agents. The journey that Aline has is fascinating to me, and I really adored the descriptions of places, the culture, and of the people she encountered. Although Aline wasn’t the typical spy that a reader would expect, with gadgets and being in constant danger, I think this was a much more realistic portrayal; and one that I would have loved to live through myself! Most of the time, the story tells us of the parties and events and Aline was invited to by the upper-class, getting to experience a much richer life than what she was used to. However, there were elements of danger scattered throughout the story that made things more fast paced. I would not recommend this book for the everyday reader, as it was heavy in World War II facts and figures of the time. So unless you were interested in the history, the reader would be bogged down with details not necessarily related to Aline. There were a lot of names, codenames and side stories that were described, however, they were rarely brought up again so there was no reason to remember every person that was mentioned; this includes all the footnotes that also give more context to the story. I believe Loftis did a good job placing importance on the characters that do matter to the story, as when they are mentioned again you can remember their importance. Another detail that could hinder some readers is about Spain and its culture, although I think this is another aspect that Loftis did incredibly well. It is very culture heavy but it is explained in a manner that foreigners would understand, as Aline was one herself. I myself am very interested in both history and Spanish culture, so this was a really enjoyable read and would recommend it to those who find these topics interesting as well, however some of the historical sidenotes did lose my attention as I was mostly interested in Aline’s story and her new luxurious lifestyle.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    The Princess Spy: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones is a biographical book of Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones. Larry Loftis, an attorney, author, and adjunct professor of law wrote this book. María Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones was an American-born Spanish aristocrat, socialite, and writer who worked in the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II and later for the CIA as a spy. Born in the small town of Pearl River, New York, G The Princess Spy: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones is a biographical book of Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones. Larry Loftis, an attorney, author, and adjunct professor of law wrote this book. María Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones was an American-born Spanish aristocrat, socialite, and writer who worked in the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II and later for the CIA as a spy. Born in the small town of Pearl River, New York, Griffith moved to Manhattan after graduating from a Catholic women’s college and found work as a model for fashion designer Hattie Carnegie. Griffith’s life took a turn after a chance meeting with an Office of Strategic Services operative at a dinner party in 1943. Griffith joined the OSS and, following her training, was sent to Spain in 1944 to search for Nazi supporters among the region’s social elites. Amid her information-gathering activities, she met and married a Spanish nobleman and became a countess. She quit spying in 1947 to focus on raising a family, but resumed clandestine activities for the CIA in 1956, though those missions remain classified. The Princess Spy: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones is written and researched rather well. Loftis' fast-moving narrative includes plenty of colorful details about Griffith's social life and sketches the battles between German, American, and British spies for influence over the Spanish government with precision. All in all, The Princess Spy: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones is a wonderful biography of a lively and spirited woman.

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