New SOE Books

Below are listed some new and forthcoming SOE-related book releases. I've also compiled some other categories:

Books with a rosetterosette iconare recommended titles.


Section D for Destruction: Forerunner of SOE by Malcolm Atkin (Pen and Sword, January 2018).

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.

The Gestapo's Most Improbable Hostage by Hugh Mallory Falconer (Pen and Sword, May 2018).

image of book SOE in the Low Countries by M.R.D. Foot

SOE in the Low Countries by M.R.D. Foot (Amberley, September 2017). A reprint of Foot's official history first released in 2001.

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 They Fought Alone by Charles Glass

They Fought Alone: The True Story of the Starr Brothers, British Secret Agents in Nazi-Occupied France by Charles Glass (Penguin, September 2018). Account of the lives of George and John Starr, two F Section agents who headed separate networks in France. Not to be confused with Maurice Buckmaster's book of the same name, published in 1958.

image of book The Extraordinary Life of Mike Cumberlege SOE

The Extraordinary Life of Mike Cumberlege SOE by Robin Knight (Fonthill, November 2018).

image of book The Extraordinary Life of Mike Cumberlege SOE

Code Name Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII's Most Highly Decorated Spy by Larry Loftis (Gallery Books, January 2019). Another hackneyed retelling of Odette's story, full of reconstructed dialogue and melodrama.

image of book A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell

A Woman of No Importance (Hardback) by Sonia Purnell (Virago, March 2019). A disappointing and sometimes confused account of F Section fixer and later OSS agent, Virginia Hall.

image of book Saboteur: The Secret War of Tony Brooks, SOE's Youngest Agent by Mark SeamanRecommended book rosette

Saboteur: The Secret War of Tony Brooks, SOE's Youngest Agent by Mark Seaman (John Blake, November 2018). The first biography of F Section's Tony Brooks, who was recruited at the age of just 19 and created one of SOE's most successful sabotage networks in France.

image of book Violette: The Missions of SOE Agent Violette Szabó GC by Tania Szabo

Violette: The Missions of SOE Agent Violette Szabó GC by Tania Szabó (History Press, November 2018). Written by Violette's daughter.

Agent Paterson SOE by Ernest Van Maurik (Pen and Sword, May 2018). Written in the 1980s, van Maurik's memoir recalls an unusually varied SOE career. Sadly it glosses over the training of the Czech agents who undertook the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in 1942, but includes some interesting details on his later work, particularly in Switzerland.

Teenage Resistance Fighter by Hubert Verneret (Casemate, Sept 2017). First published in 1971, this journal describes Verneret's experiences of the Fall of France through to joining a maquis group in Burgundy during 1944. It includes recollections of Paul Sarrette and Kenneth Mackenzie, whose Gondolier network provided local SOE support.

Popular SOE Books


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: The World War II SOE Training Manual.

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 Heroines of SOE by Beryl Escott

Heroines of SOE: Britain's secret women in France by Beryl Escott (History Press, October 2012). Popular collection of short 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.

image of book Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity [Fiction] by Elizabeth Wein (Electric Monkey, February 2015). This is a ‘young adult’ novel about two women friends who crash in occupied France. One is the pilot, the other a spy. As the book unfolds they each tell their own very different versions of the same story. Available in paperback and other formats including audiobook. First published in 2012.

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 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.

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 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.

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.

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 of the first-hand accounts detailing the work of the Special Duties squadrons, which secretly ferried hundreds of agents in and out of France.

©2009-2019 Nigel Perrin