New and Forthcoming SOE Books

Below are listed some new and future SOE book releases, followed by a few relevant popular books. For the moment, I've left out French and foreign language titles.

I've also compiled other listings in the following categories:

Books with a rosetterosette iconare recommended titles.


image of book Game of Spies by Paddy Ashdown

Game of Spies: The Secret Agent, the Traitor and the Nazi, Bordeaux 1942-1944 by Paddy Ashdown (William Collins, September 2016). A retelling "in the tradition of Ben Macintyre" of the Grandclément affair, a catastrophic betrayal which led to the collapse of SOE's Bordeaux-based "Scientist" network run by Claude de Baissac and Roger Landes. This is a fair and enlightening account of a fascinating story.

image of book The Winter Fortress by Neal Bascomb

The Winter Fortress [Novel] by Neal Bascomb (Head of Zeus, May 2016). Based on SOE's operations against the Nazi nuclear program and the Norsk Hydro sabotage raid in Norway.

image of book SOE In France 1941-1945: An Official Account of the Special Operations Executive's French Circuits

SOE In France 1941-1945: An Official Account of the Special Operations Executive's French Circuits (Hardback) by Robert Bourne-Paterson (Frontline Books, September 2016). An contemporary appreciation of F Section's work in France, written by one of its senior officers. This is a reproduction of the report held at the National Archives.

image of book Dadland: A Journey into Uncharted Territory by Keggie Carew

Dadland: A Journey into Uncharted Territory (Hardback) by Keggie Carew (Chatto & Windus, July 2016). Author's exploration of her father Tom Carew's past as a Jedburgh in France and Burma. See her article for The Telegraph.

image of book RAF and the SOE: Special Duty Operations in Europe During World War II

RAF and the SOE: Special Duty Operations in Europe During World War II by John Grehan (Frontline Books, October 2016). Another reprint of an archived document, produced by the Air Historical Branch at the end of the war.

image of book Accidental Agent

Accidental Agent by John Goldsmith (Pen and Sword, October 2016). Reprint of Goldsmith's memoir, first published in 1971. He undertook three missions in France, and was the only agent the Gestapo put up at the Hotel Continental in Paris, from where he escaped.

image of book Dead on Time: The Memoir of an SOE and OSS Agent in Occupied France

Dead on Time: The Memoir of an SOE and OSS Agent in Occupied France by Jean-Claude Guiet (History Press, March 2016). Posthumously published recollections of the former SOE wireless operator who parachuted with Violette Szabo in 1944. He later worked for the CIA.

image of book Resistance: European Resistance to the Nazis 1940-45

Resistance: European Resistance to the Nazis 1940-45 (Dialogue Espionage Classics) by M.R.D. Foot (Biteback, April 2016). Foot's survey of Resistance shows its age but is still a useful reprint. First published in 1975.

image of book SOE's Mastermind by Brian Lett

SOE's Mastermind: An Authorised Biography of Major General Sir Colin Gubbins Kcmg, DSO, MC by Brian Lett (Pen and Sword, July 2016). No new books on SOE's head Colin Gubbins since Peter Wilkinson's and Joan Bright Astley's Gubbins and SOE in 1993, then two appear at once (see also the title below).

image of book Lysander Pilot: Secret Operations with 161 Squadron

Lysander Pilot: Secret Operations with 161 Squadron by James Atterby McCairns (ed. Reginald Byron) (Tangmere Aviation Museum Publications, September 2016). Available as a Kindle book only.

image of book The Last SOE Hero: Bob Maloubier and The French Resistance by Bob Maloubier

The Last SOE Hero: Bob Maloubier and The French Resistance by Bob Maloubier (translated by Tania Szabo) (History Press, September 2016).

image of book House of Spies

House of Spies by Peter Matthews (History Press, October 2016). History of St Ermin's Hotel, known for its many connections with SOE and other British secret services.

Popular SOE Books

book cover for Forgotten Voices of the Secret WarRecommended book rosette

Forgotten Voices of the Secret War: An Inside History of Special Operations in the Second World War by Roderick Bailey (Ebury Press, 2008). Compilation of interviews with SOE agents taken from the Imperial War Museum's sound archive.

Book cover for Spy Princess

Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan by Shrabani Basu (History Press, 2006). See also Noor‐un‐nisa Inayat Khan by Jean Overton Fuller.

Book cover for No Cloak No DaggerRecommended book rosette

No Cloak, No Dagger by Benjamin Cowburn (Frontline Books, 2009). As the title suggests, Cowburn's account of his four missions to France is honest, modest and convincing. One of the most evocative agent memoirs. First published in 1960.

Book cover for Beaulieu

Beaulieu: The Finishing School for Secret Agents by Cyril Cunningham (Leo Cooper, 2005). First published in 1994.

image of book Heroines of SOE by Beryl Escott

Heroines of SOE: Britain's secret women in France by Beryl Escott (History Press, October 2012). Sketches of SOE's female F Section agents, including Nancy Wake, Pearl Witherington, Noor Inayat Khan, Violette Szabo, Mary Herbert and Odette Sansom. Hardback edition was published in 2010.

Book cover for A Life in SecretsRecommended book rosette

A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE by Sarah Helm (Little, Brown, 2005). The story of how Intelligence officer Vera Atkins uncovered the fates of F Section's missing agents, and Helm's investigations into Atkins' own hidden past.

Book cover for The Shetland Bus

The Shetland Bus by David Howarth (Shetland Times, 1998).

Book cover for Between Silk and Cyanide

Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War 1941‐45 by Leo Marks (History Press, 2007). Bestselling autobiography by SOE's cryptographer. First published by HarperCollins in 1998.

Book cover for The White Rabbit

The White Rabbit by Bruce Marshall (Cassell, 2007). The story of George Cross recipient F.F.E. Yeo-Thomas, written by one of his SOE colleagues. First published by Evans Brothers in 1952. See also Mark Seaman's Bravest of the Brave.

image of book Carve Her Name with Pride by R J Minney

Carve Her Name with Pride by R.J. Minney (Pen and Sword, June 2012). Paperback reprint of biography of celebrated female agent Violette Szabó GC. First published by George Newnes in 1956.

image of book The Life That I Have by Susan Ottaway

The Life That I Have by Susan Ottaway (Thistle Publishing, August 2014). Reprint of Violette Szabo biography.

Book cover for Odette by Jerrard Tickell

Odette by Jerrard Tickell (Headline Review, 2008). The first biography of agent Odette Sansom, one of the six SOE agents to be awarded the George Cross. Published by Chapman & Hall in 1949.

Book cover for We Landed by MoonlightRecommended book rosette

We Landed by Moonlight: Secret RAF Landings in France 1940‐1944 by Hugh Verity (Crecy Publishing, 1998). First published by Ian Allan in 1978. The most readable and reliable of first-hand accounts detailing the work of the Special Duties squadrons, which secretly ferried hundreds of agents in and out of France.

image of book Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity [Fiction] by Elizabeth Wein (Electric Monkey, February 2015). Paperback, but also available in other formats, including audiobook. First published in 2012.

image of book SOE Manual: How to be an Agent in Occupied Europe

SOE Manual: How to be an Agent in Occupied Europe (William Collins, November 2014). This is another reproduction work, with selections from SOE's training syllabus covering sabotage, parachute operations, interrogation, fieldcraft etc. For those wanting an unabridged reprint of the course notes, see How to be a Spy.

©2009-16 Nigel Perrin