Thursday, April 23, 2015

"Women Heroes of World War II," by Kathryn J. Atwood Book Review

"All evil needs to triumph is for good men [and women] to sit and do nothing."- Sir Edmund Burke. 

Noor Inayat Khan was the first female radio operator sent into occupied France and transferred crucial messages. Johtje Vos, a Dutch housewife, hid Jews in her home and repeatedly outsmarted the Gestapo. Law student Hannie Schaft became involved in the most dangerous resistance work--sabotage, weapons transference, and assassinations. In these pages, young readers will meet these and many other similarly courageous women and girls who risked their lives to help defeat the Nazis. Twenty-six engaging and suspense-filled stories unfold from across Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, and the United States, providing an inspiring reminder of women and girls’ refusal to sit on the sidelines around the world and throughout history. An overview of World War II and summaries of each country’s entrance and involvement in the war provide a framework for better understanding each woman’s unique circumstances, and resources for further learning follow each profile. Women Heroes of World War II is an invaluable addition to any student’s or history buff’s bookshelf.

Kathryn J. Atwood is the author of “Women Heroes of World War II,” “Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics,” and the editor of “Code Name Pauline: Memoirs of a World War II Special Agent.” She has contributed to War, Literature, and the Arts,, Midwest Book Review, and Women’s Independent Press. To learn more about her and her other books, check out her website at

“Women Heroes of WWII,” is a collection of 26 stories, each containing a tale of an inspiring woman or girl who lived and breathed during WWII. From the four corners of the world, you learn about strong individuals who did what they could to make a difference in the dark world they were living in. Some rescued Jews, others wrote illegal pamphlets, some were spies, some lived to tell their stories and some died for what they believed in. From all walks of life, from various backgrounds, different religions, and separate social classes, these ladies left the mark on the world and are excellent role models for today’s youth. Though these ladies would never think of calling themselves heroes, read their stories and discover what true heroism is.

I actually borrowed and read this book a few years ago as research for a WIP of mine and loved it. A couple weeks ago I saw that they were giving it away on Goodreads and signed up for a chance to win. Imagine my surprise when I received a message from the author herself asking if I would be interested in a free copy in exchange for a book review. Not only that, she also sent me her latest book “Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics,” to review as well. I give “Women Heroes of WWII” five stars, not only because of the stories of the ladies featured in this book, but because I love the writing itself. The style is easy to read, smooth but very detailed. I learned about different countries and cultures that I knew very little of, and how those places responded to the Nazis and the Holocaust.

I was thrilled to find many of my own personal heroines featured in there: Sophie Scholl, Irena Sendler and Sophia Podgorska. I was also introduced to many others that I was not too familiar with: Noor Inayat Khan (fun fact, there is a PBS documentary out about her called, “Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story”), Josephine Baker (had heard of her, of course, but had not realized all that she had done) and Martha Gellhorn (one of the greatest war correspondents of the 20th century).
I hope to lend this book to my sister that way she can write a review too. She was particularly excited to hear that Noor Inayat Khan was included, since that is a heroine of hers. But I’m selfish and plan to keep it for myself for future reference and enjoyment. Thank you, Kathryn Atwood for sending this to me.

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