Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War

Hal Vaughan. Knopf, $27.95 (304p) ISBN 978- 0-307-59263-7
Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel's war was not as secret as the subtitle implies. It's well known that during WWII, the celebrated fashion designer took as her lover a much younger Nazi intelligence officer, Hans Günther von Dincklage, and through him developed a mutually beneficial relationship with the Nazis. Journalist, diplomat, and author Vaughan (FDR's 12 Apostles), searching archives in several countries, fills in gaps in the record regarding Chanel's two intelligence missions to Madrid. The first she performed in exchange for the Nazis returning her ailing nephew from a German POW camp. The second, more well-known Operation Modellhut, a German effort to broker a separate peace with Britain, ended disastrously. Vaughan also explains Chanel's mysterious ability to avoid prosecution as a collaborator after the war, and her attempts to destroy or buy off anyone who might have testified against her. Vaughan gives mainly superficial, cliché-ridden attention to Chanel's prewar life, nor does he explore her self-contradictions—or hypocrisies—such as fiercely asserting her independence while accepting real estate worth millions from one of her serial lovers, the duke of Westminster. Vaughan's at times fascinating but unsatisfying book tarnishes Chanel's aura of glamour, leaving instead a picture of a pathetic, morphine-addicted woman who would do literally anything to have a powerful man by her side. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/18/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
Paperback - 313 pages - 978-0-307-47591-6
Open Ebook - 236 pages - 978-0-307-95703-0
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-7011-8500-8
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-96922-4
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4481-0425-3
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