Author(s): Lynne Olson
In 1941, a thirty-one-year-old Frenchwoman, a young mother born to privilege and known for her beauty and glamour, became the leader of a vast Resistance organisation - the only woman to hold such a role.
Brave, independent, and a lifelong rebel against her country's conservative, patriarchal society, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was temperamentally made for the job. Her group's name was Alliance, but the Gestapo dubbed it Noah's Ark because its agents used the names of animals as their aliases. The name Marie-Madeleine chose for herself was Hedgehog- unthreatening in appearance, yet a tough little animal, that, as she put it, "even a lion would hesitate to bite."
No other French spy network lasted as long or supplied as much crucial intelligence as Alliance - and as a result, the Gestapo pursued its members relentlessly, capturing, torturing, and executing hundreds of its three thousand agents, including Fourcade's own lover and many of her key spies. Fourcade had to move her headquarters every few weeks, constantly changing her hair colour, clothing, and identity, yet was still captured twice by the Nazis. Both times she managed to escape. Though so many of her agents died defending their country, Fourcade survived the occupation to become active in post-war French politics.
Now, in a dramatic account of the war that split France in two and forced its people to live side by side with their hated German occupiers, Lynne Olson tells the fascinating story of a woman who stood up for her nation, her fellow citizens, and herself.