Queen of Spies: Daphne Park, Britain’s Cold War Spy Master

Paddy Hayes. Overlook, $29.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4683-1268-3
Irish novelist Hayes (The First Secret) turns to nonfiction as he studies the life of Daphne Park, the first woman to join the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), producing a narrative that can be read three ways. The first is the tale an 11-year-old girl who leaves her mud shack in Africa to travel to Great Britain for her education, subsequently rising through the intelligence service to become a baroness and a member of the House of Lords. The second concerns the adventures of a Cold War–era British intelligence agent playing deadly cat and mouse games with the KGB, and serving in Moscow during the Hungarian Revolt of 1956 and in Hanoi during the Vietnam War. The third covers an exceptionally intelligent and strong-willed woman who forces one of the most male-dominated government bureaucracies to recognize her and promote her based on her competence. Park faced immense cultural and institutional obstacles, overcoming many of the challenges that talented professional women still face today. Hayes is open about his own speculations, given the still-classified nature of much of this material, but he successfully conveys the inspiring nature of Park’s personal story and achievements, offering an informative account of the Cold War and the workings of the supersecret SIS. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/2015
Release date: 01/01/2016
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X