Code Name
The true story of the woman who became WWII's most highly decorated spy The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing. Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission. It is here that she meets her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill.As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them. They are sent to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and from there to concentration camps in Germany where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues.In Code Name: Lise, Larry Loftis paints a portrait of true courage, patriotism, and love—of two incredibly heroic people who endured unimaginable horrors and degradations. He seamlessly weaves together the touching romance between Odette and Peter and the thrilling cat and mouse game between them and Sergeant Bleicher.

Code Name Details

TitleCode Name
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 15th, 2019
PublisherGallery Books
ISBN-139781501198656
Rating
GenreNonfiction, History, Biography, War, World War II

Code Name Review

  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    Not too often, but once in a while, a true story is so intense, thrilling, and adventurous that reading it you just might think you're reading fiction. Filled with espionage, war, romance, torture, imprisonment, and desperation, Odette's story is inspiring and fascinating. Leaving three young children behind while her husband is on the front lines, Odette volunteered to go behind enemy lines in Occupied France and work on behalf of the resistance. At first, reluctant to become a spy and thinking Not too often, but once in a while, a true story is so intense, thrilling, and adventurous that reading it you just might think you're reading fiction. Filled with espionage, war, romance, torture, imprisonment, and desperation, Odette's story is inspiring and fascinating. Leaving three young children behind while her husband is on the front lines, Odette volunteered to go behind enemy lines in Occupied France and work on behalf of the resistance. At first, reluctant to become a spy and thinking she'd never make it out of training school, she became the most decorated woman in WW2 Britain. Steadfast, determined, sure of herself, even after capture by the Germans and sent to the infamous prison camp, Ravensbruck, a world beyond the walls of hell. Tortured to confess her compatriots' names. Condemned to death for her role. Starved, denied medical treatment, locked in a cage, and yet still Tenacious, still steadfast. What an amazing story that could well have been fiction if it weren't true.Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    This is an incredible story of war, intrigue, love and a whole lot of courage! It is the story of Odette Sansom whose moral code would not allow her to sit back and do nothing as the Nazi made their march on Europe. At great personal expense, she left her family and her life to act as a courier for the British SOE (Special Organization Executive), whose function was to cause as much difficulty as they could for the Nazi through acts of sabotage. The strength and courage this woman had in the fac This is an incredible story of war, intrigue, love and a whole lot of courage! It is the story of Odette Sansom whose moral code would not allow her to sit back and do nothing as the Nazi made their march on Europe. At great personal expense, she left her family and her life to act as a courier for the British SOE (Special Organization Executive), whose function was to cause as much difficulty as they could for the Nazi through acts of sabotage. The strength and courage this woman had in the face of the Nazis was astounding and inspiring. Throughout her work and capture what was most striking was her absolute fearlessness and absolute refusal to compromise the people she worked with no matter how the Nazi’s tried to break her. “Code Name: Lise” shows us the strength of the human spirit when motivated by love and an uncompromising moral code that calls for action. At the end of the story, the author addresses some of the historical controversies surrounding Odette Sansome and the role she played with the SOE. For me, this added a depth to the book which I really appreciate. It is not an easy story or an uncomplicated one! It is one, however, I absolutely recommend! I was privileged to receive a free copy of this book from NetGalley and the Publisher, Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jean
    January 1, 1970
    The biography of Odette Sansom Churchill (1912-1995) is absolutely amazing. Odette was a French woman married to an Englishman. She left her husband and three children to return to occupied France as a spy for the SOE (Special Operation Executive Program, a British spy agency) The book is well written and researched. The conversations are taken verbatim from the records. The book is well documented. After the war Odette married Peter Churchill (1909-1972). He served in occupied France with her d The biography of Odette Sansom Churchill (1912-1995) is absolutely amazing. Odette was a French woman married to an Englishman. She left her husband and three children to return to occupied France as a spy for the SOE (Special Operation Executive Program, a British spy agency) The book is well written and researched. The conversations are taken verbatim from the records. The book is well documented. After the war Odette married Peter Churchill (1909-1972). He served in occupied France with her during the War. Loftis describes Odette’s ordeal as a prisoner in grisly detail. Therefore, the reader should be aware of the violence before reading it. Overall, this is an exciting and interesting biography.I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is nine hours and fifty-nine minutes. Kate Reading does an excellent job narrating the book. Reading is an actress and voice artist. She has been nominated three times for the Audie Award and won it once. She also has been awarded three Earphone Awards.
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  • Giselle Bradley
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 Stars
  • Joseph Finder
    January 1, 1970
    I was lucky enough to read an early copy, and it's just splendid: a grand adventure, part thriller, part love story, full of wonderful details about the tradecraft of wartime espionage and the names of dozens of unsung heroes who fought the Nazis on the backstreets of France. A remarkable achievement that does honor to its subject. It would make a great movie, and I'll be surprised if it hasn't already been optioned.
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  • Dick Reynolds
    January 1, 1970
    It’s 1942 and German troops have occupied most of Europe. A French woman named Odette Sansom wants to do her part to fight the Germans and manages to become a spy code-named Lise. She joins forces with an English officer named Peter Churchill who will be her commanding officer. Remarkably, Odette had once been married and still had three children but she persuades a relative to take care of them while she fulfills her patriotic duty for France. Odette is alone in Arles, France on Christmas eve It’s 1942 and German troops have occupied most of Europe. A French woman named Odette Sansom wants to do her part to fight the Germans and manages to become a spy code-named Lise. She joins forces with an English officer named Peter Churchill who will be her commanding officer. Remarkably, Odette had once been married and still had three children but she persuades a relative to take care of them while she fulfills her patriotic duty for France. Odette is alone in Arles, France on Christmas eve 1942 and joins a group of German officers at their hotel. After a feast of cake and several bottles of Cote du Rhone she persuades the Germans to move a piano upstairs where the sounds can be enjoyed by a greater number of hotel guests. Not exactly a bit of spy craft but it does attest to Odette’s cleverness. Peter, Odette and several compatriots are captured by Nazis and taken by train to one of Germany’s infamous prison camps. Odette is subjected to some torture that even made me cringe but she would not reveal any military secrets. Peter and Odette begin to have romantic feelings about each other during this period and told their captors that they were married even though they were not. Because of Peter’s last name, the Nazis believed that they had caught a relative of the British Prime Minister; neither Peter nor Odette tried to tell them otherwise. The Nazis sent an offer to England and offer a trade: we’ll give you Peter Churchill in exchange for Rudolf Hess. England, however, would not agree to the switch. Both Peter and Odette survive the war, are released from prison and travel to England where they eventually marry. Because of her heroism during the war, Odette is selected to receive an award. In a large ceremony the George Cross is presented to her by none other than King George VI, the only woman being honored along with 249 men. Photographs, reference notes and the author’s commentary are provided. This is an inspiring book of non-fiction that reads like a exciting and tension-filled novel.
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  • Kat, aka
    January 1, 1970
    This book was amazing. I, like so many others, love reading f stories about the Holocaust. I'm not sure why; it was an ugly, ugly time. I think it's because in the end the good guys won, and we need to understand that sometimes bad things happen to good people. Like it did to Odette and Peter in Code Name: Lise.This book was hard to read, because so much of it was ugly. So many cruelties were inflicted in these pages. But it was beautiful too, because they kept going. They didn't flinch. They ma This book was amazing. I, like so many others, love reading f stories about the Holocaust. I'm not sure why; it was an ugly, ugly time. I think it's because in the end the good guys won, and we need to understand that sometimes bad things happen to good people. Like it did to Odette and Peter in Code Name: Lise.This book was hard to read, because so much of it was ugly. So many cruelties were inflicted in these pages. But it was beautiful too, because they kept going. They didn't flinch. They may have wanted to give up, but they didn't. And they helped see that so many war criminals were put away, which was awesome. After reading it, I have to give the book 4.5 stars, rounded up to five. I'm taking away half a point because there were just so many people, and it was hard for me to keep track - but that was my fault, not the books. Read it and enjoy!
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  • Kristin
    January 1, 1970
    I have read a lot of books about WWII, both fiction and nonfiction. This nonfiction book stands somewhat apart from others I have read in that it is stuffed full of minute details with many names of German, French, and English people involved in the espionage game during the war. This could have detracted from the book, but because I listened to the audio version I didn't need to wrestle with the names. In fact, I would strongly recommend listening to the Audible version with Kate Reading as the I have read a lot of books about WWII, both fiction and nonfiction. This nonfiction book stands somewhat apart from others I have read in that it is stuffed full of minute details with many names of German, French, and English people involved in the espionage game during the war. This could have detracted from the book, but because I listened to the audio version I didn't need to wrestle with the names. In fact, I would strongly recommend listening to the Audible version with Kate Reading as the narrator. She does an excellent job using just the right tone to capture the serious nature of these events in history.Odette Sansom stands out in the field of WWII spy work because of her unique qualifications. She is a French born woman who lives most of her life in her adopted country of England. The book details her unusual route to becoming an SOE agent, even though she is a civilian. Odette becomes a courier in France during the war. Because of her native French language skills, her perfect English, and her great courage and tenacity, she becomes a formidable agent working for Peter Churchill, her boss. Odette and Peter are highly successful agents who fall in love during their dangerous missions. Eventually both are captured by a cunning German double agent and the book goes into great detail about their interrogations, their prison living conditions, and their torture, especially Odette's.If you want to learn about the real-life spies of World War II, I would suggest reading this book. Please be aware of the explicit details of Odette's prison experiences, they are not for the faint of heart. There are many addendum to the book which I would strongly advise reading. They flesh out the details of Odette's and Peter's life beyond their work as spies and prisoners during World War II.
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  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    First sentence: Major Guthrie looked again at the photographs. Premise/plot: The subtitle of this one tells you essentially everything you need to know to decide if this book is for you: "the true story of the woman who became WWII's most highly decorated spy." Since I seek out fiction and nonfiction set during this time, it was enough for me to put the book on hold. Odette, the spy, in some ways was your average person. She was married. Her husband was in active service--can't remember which br First sentence: Major Guthrie looked again at the photographs. Premise/plot: The subtitle of this one tells you essentially everything you need to know to decide if this book is for you: "the true story of the woman who became WWII's most highly decorated spy." Since I seek out fiction and nonfiction set during this time, it was enough for me to put the book on hold. Odette, the spy, in some ways was your average person. She was married. Her husband was in active service--can't remember which branch now. She had three kids, three YOUNG kids. True, she was a Frenchwoman living in the UK. True, she knew some parts of France quite well and could speak the language fluently without an English accent. But she certainly never saw herself as spy material. But with a little convincing she said yes to serving her adopted country. After some training and a lot of bad luck in actually getting to France, there she was part of the French Resistance. What could go wrong? Just about everything--though not from day one, mission one. For the most part she was a messenger--carrying secret messages back and forth.My thoughts: I was disappointed. I think my disappointment has to do with the grand book I was promised in the jacket copy. The jacket copy makes the book out to be a SWEEPING romance, a true love story. Two spies fall madly, deeply, passionately in love while they work side by side for the Resistance. He's her Commanding Officer, Peter Churchill. They're arrested together. Though separated for years, neither can forget their *love*...The story is well-researched. I won't deny that. It is based on a true story. But I found it less thrilling and less romantic than the jacket copy makes it out to be. I didn't find the man to capture them to be so much "cunning" (according to the jacket copy) as lucky. One of the spies in Peter and Odette's circle or ring was just REALLY stupid, clumsy, gullible, immoral. Odette and Peter were aware of this--that their identities were compromised and they were being pursued--but they reckoned on a few more days of safety. This wasn't so much "thrilling cat and mouse chase" as it was YELL AT THE PEOPLE IN THE BOOK. As for their time in prison and concentration camps...this does make up the majority of the book. I did find both to be strong and resilient--not easily broken. In fact, there was no breaking. As I mentioned it's based on a true story....and the two did marry after the war...but they didn't stay married. This was no life-consuming LOVE to last the ages. The author hints that perhaps she cheated on him and they then divorced. She did marry a third husband--in the 1950s, I believe.
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  • RoF
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy thanks to Goodreads.This biography is interesting to discover Odette Sansom's life during WWII. However, since it is not the first biography, without reading the previous ones it is hard to evaluate its own value.Indeed, the most interesting part of the book is the last one, the chapter talking about the controversy after the war when different stakeholders published their memoirs and other tried to diminish them. Since this fact-checking portion clearly presents different I received a free copy thanks to Goodreads.This biography is interesting to discover Odette Sansom's life during WWII. However, since it is not the first biography, without reading the previous ones it is hard to evaluate its own value.Indeed, the most interesting part of the book is the last one, the chapter talking about the controversy after the war when different stakeholders published their memoirs and other tried to diminish them. Since this fact-checking portion clearly presents different arguments and points of view, it is a good conclusion.Several technical flaws in the uncorrected proof that I received made it difficult to read sometimes: misplaced words, incorrect translation from English to French, lack of information for few pictures, confusion between real names and aliases (especially "Robert"), etc... Hopefully they will all be corrected for the official release.Overall, it seems that the author could not choose between different genres.It is half a romance novel because there is quite a high dose of chaste feelings between Odette and Peter her commanding officer and it is not a thorough biography because of the lack of supporting documents like letters, official records, pictures, maps (if you are not familiar with the geography of Southern France, you need to find a map to better understand Odette's endeavors) or other elements that an historian would use to support, illustrate and better explain the context. And some important questions remain, for instance about the relationship between Odette and her daughters: how did they feel when they finally reunited with their mom after the war ? Joy ? Resentment ? How did her mom try to explain her choices and re-build a family bond ? And what does she do during 40 years after the war ?It is not a breathtaking action novel because of the too few details about Odette's accomplishments in her Resistance circuits. Also, too many chapters end with phony cliffhangers, above all the preface or the chapter almost at the end when an SS officer gets close to the car where Odette is watching documents. Some situations also look absurd and make the reader step back from the story to try to understand how a person described as a deeply sick skeleton due to starvation and physical and psychological torture can still walk and prefer to do some unnecessary things. Additionally, when she is rescued, nobody seems to feel that the right decision would be to take her to an hospital. This happens in the previously mentioned situation and again in London when they keep Odette waiting in the SOE headquarters until Peter's return.And it would have been useful to get more insight from the main characters with psychological developments about their feelings, their decision-making process and how they dealt with the consequences of their actions.One of the good points that I'd like to highlight from this book is the explanation of the internal rivalries between MI6 and SOE in England and between Abwerh and SS in Germany. That gives credibility to the story, especially when it deals with the German spy chaser "Monsieur Jean".At the end, despite the writing which could be improved, you get Odette's portrait focused on the WWII period and a lot of questions to open discussion about heroism. How do you take bold decisions ? Does a hero have to crave adrenaline and love the thrill ? How do you balance personal and collective interests ? Which values are more important ? What is worth the risk ?
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  • Nissa
    January 1, 1970
    Set in occupied France during World War II, this is an exciting story of life as an SOE agent working with the French Resistance which has as its chief character the brave and resourceful Odette Sansom. The author effectively conveys the atmosphere of suspicion experienced by those living through those times and for those involved in Resistance activities, the constant fear of discovery, the difficulty of knowing who to trust and the consequences of the wrong move or careless word. There are man Set in occupied France during World War II, this is an exciting story of life as an SOE agent working with the French Resistance which has as its chief character the brave and resourceful Odette Sansom. The author effectively conveys the atmosphere of suspicion experienced by those living through those times and for those involved in Resistance activities, the constant fear of discovery, the difficulty of knowing who to trust and the consequences of the wrong move or careless word. There are many twists and turns and the author keeps you entrenched in the love, passion and conflict of living through a war. The author has clearly done his research into the structure and activities of the French Resistance during that period because the detail of their operations is convincing. This story was highly entertaining and there is so much detail you feel like you are there with the characters, seeing what they are seeing, feeling what they are feeling. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in heroic war stories.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    Code Name: Lise by Larry Loftis. Odette Sansom Hallowes is also known as Odette Churchill and was recruited by the SOE in 1942.My problem with this biography are the "conversations." While some of these can be documented in general, using this as dialogue feels too much like fiction. I prefer a third person account unless conversations can be documented verbatim with appropriate footnotes.Odette Sansom was a French woman married to an Englishman and joined the SOE in 1942. I did like the referen Code Name: Lise by Larry Loftis. Odette Sansom Hallowes is also known as Odette Churchill and was recruited by the SOE in 1942.My problem with this biography are the "conversations." While some of these can be documented in general, using this as dialogue feels too much like fiction. I prefer a third person account unless conversations can be documented verbatim with appropriate footnotes.Odette Sansom was a French woman married to an Englishman and joined the SOE in 1942. I did like the references to the SOE, Leo Marks, Colonel Buckmaster, and a few others because I was familiar with them from other books about the SOE. It was a bit disconcerting to get to the end and read the criticism of some historians in regard to Odette's service. While I admire the author for including the controversy, it left me a little unsettled about the roles of Odette and Peter Churchill. It was a bit disconcerting to get to the end and read the criticism of historians in regard to Odette's service. While I admire the author for including the controversy, it left me unsettled about the roles of Odette and Peter Churchill. An intriguing look at the lives of some of the agents in occupied France, Code Name: Lise examines the service of one of the most famous of the SOE agents and one who survived Ravensbruck concentration camp.If you are interested in the SOE and the intelligence operations in Europe I can recommend Leo Marks' Between Silk and Cyanide. The purpose of the SOE was "to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe (and later, also in occupied Southeast Asia) against the Axis powers, and to aid local resistance movements." Leo Marks, a cryptographer, headed the code department " supporting resistance agents in occupied Europe for the secret Special Operations Executive organisation" while Maurice Buckmaster was the head of "F" section. Also another book about an SOE agent in France is Nancy Wake by Russel Braddon.Read in October.NetGalley/Gallery BooksHistory/WWII/Espionage. Jan. 15, 2019. Print length: 384 pages.
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  • Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com
    January 1, 1970
    For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: http://www.ManOfLaBook.comCode Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy by Larry Loftis is a non-fiction book about a British spy operating in occupied France. Mr. Lofits was a corporate attorney, but is now a full time writer.The one thing which I immediately realized by reading this book is that the author has much sympathy for his subject. Odette Sansom, Lise, was not just the most decorated woman, but For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: http://www.ManOfLaBook.comCode Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy by Larry Loftis is a non-fiction book about a British spy operating in occupied France. Mr. Lofits was a corporate attorney, but is now a full time writer.The one thing which I immediately realized by reading this book is that the author has much sympathy for his subject. Odette Sansom, Lise, was not just the most decorated woman, but the most decorated woman of the whole war.Code Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy by Larry Loftis tells an amazing story, and it’s one of those book which I love, the author taking a real story and writing it as if it were a novel. Mr. Loftis creates a nerve wrecking narrative, filled with excitement and heroism. I found the writing to be a bit cliché at times, which was odd since the story is anything but.When people call about “having a calling” they should read this book, Mrs. Sansom left her daughters in a convent to go to what essentially was “spy school”, because she simply had to do something to help during the war. She learned to be proficient with many weapons, the difference in uniforms of the Axis armies, as well as master her new identity.The author describes in detail Mrs. Sansom / Lise’s mission and ordeal while being captured. She spent many months being tortured and thinking she will be executed, all being told to the reader in somewhat grisly detail. In a game of lies, two big ones saved her, she pretended to be the wife of her commander, Peter Churchill, who pretended to be related to the famous prime minister.Peter wasn’t related, but he and Odette got married after the war.This book is a fast read and the narrative is thrilling and intense. This is an amazing story, I understand that Odette Sansom is famous in England, and I’m glad her story is being told across the pond.
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  • Angela H.
    January 1, 1970
    Amazing book written about the WWII from perspective of a SOE agent (Odette). She shares her life story, survival tale in the interrogation/concentration camp, and life after survival (job & family). Her bravery and patriotism are honored. Blog post to come!
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  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    Started and finished this book in one day. It was a fascinating book on Odette Sansom who became a SOE agent, Britain's top spy agency during World War II and was sent to her homeland of occupied France in 1942 on a espionage mission. While on her mission, she was hunted by Germany's top spy catcher, Hugo Bleicher and the Gestapo. She and her lover were caught and sent to Fresnes prison in Paris where she was tortured and then to concentration camps. A interesting story of the courage of one of Started and finished this book in one day. It was a fascinating book on Odette Sansom who became a SOE agent, Britain's top spy agency during World War II and was sent to her homeland of occupied France in 1942 on a espionage mission. While on her mission, she was hunted by Germany's top spy catcher, Hugo Bleicher and the Gestapo. She and her lover were caught and sent to Fresnes prison in Paris where she was tortured and then to concentration camps. A interesting story of the courage of one of the most decorated spies during World War II.
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  • Jamie Canaves
    January 1, 1970
    Fantastic Nonfiction! (TW suicide/ torture/ concentration camps)I inhaled this fantastic audiobook! It’s nonfiction that is written like a novel about Odette Sansom, who basically ended up a spy in WWII because she decided to take the test to prove she wouldn’t pass when the SOE was trying to recruit her. Spoiler: she passed! She left her young children and went off to be a courier during the war and was immediately nicknamed the Angry Gazelle–she was delightfully stubborn. This takes you into h Fantastic Nonfiction! (TW suicide/ torture/ concentration camps)I inhaled this fantastic audiobook! It’s nonfiction that is written like a novel about Odette Sansom, who basically ended up a spy in WWII because she decided to take the test to prove she wouldn’t pass when the SOE was trying to recruit her. Spoiler: she passed! She left her young children and went off to be a courier during the war and was immediately nicknamed the Angry Gazelle–she was delightfully stubborn. This takes you into her training, her mission, and her capture… If you like spy novels/biographies don’t miss this one. And if you’re an audiobook listener go with the audiobook!--from Book Riot's Unusual Suspects newsletter: https://link.bookriot.com/view/56a820...
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  • Peter
    January 1, 1970
    What is so fascinating about stories of spies in the field? Perhaps it's because, unlike war itself— once defined as hours of boredom and moments of terror—spies in the field suffer hours of terror and moments of boredom. There is no letup from the fear of discovery, and we readers can't fathom the toll it must take. So when I started Larry Loftis's Codename Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII's Most Decorated Spy (2018) I settled in for what I thought would be a familiar tale of s What is so fascinating about stories of spies in the field? Perhaps it's because, unlike war itself— once defined as hours of boredom and moments of terror—spies in the field suffer hours of terror and moments of boredom. There is no letup from the fear of discovery, and we readers can't fathom the toll it must take. So when I started Larry Loftis's Codename Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII's Most Decorated Spy (2018) I settled in for what I thought would be a familiar tale of skullduggery and cat-and-mouse. Not quite!Odette Marie Céline Sansom was a French-born Englishwoman with three young children and a husband in the British army. As a child in France she had been blind for years; her sight eventually returned. Odette started her career with the new Special Operations Executive (SOE)—Churchill's "Ministry of Dirty Tricks"—quite by accident: she had responded to a public call for photos of the French coast and one contact led to another. In mid-1942 the twenty-five year old Odette placed her three daughters in a convent school and began SOE training under the training codename "Céline." Oddly, she was sure she was not an appropriate candidate, but the SOE pestered her so much that she agreed to begin training just to prove that she was not spy material. However, she failed to fail. Instead she was judged to be smart, determined, skilled in weapons and explosives, a capable parachutist, and she had an excellent memory; but she was also impetuous, arrogant, and too certain she was right. It's odd that she set out to prove to the SOE that she wasn't capable but still pulled no punches in training: one wonders why she didn't simply intentionally botch the job. Perhaps it was because she was extraordinarily tenacious, and because she hated Nazis.On graduation Odette was given the field codename "Lise" and sent to France by sea: the planes she was assigned to for the trip kept having mechanical failures, one even crashed. In France she met her team leader, a handsome Englishman named Peter Churchill. He and Odette developed a romantic relationship that worked in several ways. First, it was a balm for her less-than-tepid ten-year marriage to a British soldier. Second, it meant that both knew at least one team member had therr back in difficult times. Finally, because they claimed to be married on their missions, and because the Germans assumed that Peter Churchill was Winston Churchill's nephew (not so!), the German's cut them some slack when they were eventually arrested. This reminds me of my old drill instructor, who had the following view of assumptions:Q: What does "assume" do?A: It makes an ass out of u and me!Much of Odette's story is familiar: the nighttime guiding of planes to landing fields, the evasion of German soldiers and guard dogs, the treachery of foolish colleagues, the incompetence of some team members, the clever escapes and the remarkable ability to lie in convincing ways. Some events are remarkable, as when Odette displayed some outrageously gutsy behavior: one Christmas evening the team was in a restaurant seated near a table of three German officers. Lise convinced the Germans to carry the restiurant's piano up to the second floor so that the pianist on her team (there was none) could play Christmas music in private for her group.Inevitably, Odette's team was betrayed by a captured SOE agent. Spies had no protection from international law: they could be executed at will. Odette was condemned to death by a kangaroo court of German offices. There were two charges made. First, that she was a British spy, and second, that she was a Frenchwoman. She replied that the court must choose the determining charge because she could only be executed once. Peter and Odette were kept alive for the two years until the war ended, though they suffered painful indignities and had been condemned to death. Odette was interrogated fourteen times, Peter only twice. Both were tortured and kept in solitary confinement for extended periods. At one point, Odette was held for three months in "the Bunker" at Ravensbrück concentration camp, a black hole into which light was allowed for only five minutes a day. Her childhood blindness had prepared her for this but by the time she was released she was much reduced in body, though not in spirit. She remained spunky and outwardly unafraid. Why were Odette and Peter not executed while other captured SOE agents were shot very soon after capture? The only reason is the Churchill name, which Winston Churchill played along with when word got back to him about the couple's plight. Immediately after the war she and Peter Churchill married. Odette was awarded Britain's second highest decoration, the St. George Medal, as well as France's highest decoration, the Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur. In 1949 a book came out about her experiences, and a movie followed in 1950. In 2012 a British stamp was issued with her photo. She and Peter divorced after ten years and she soon married her third and last husband. Odette died in 1995.This book is not great literature, but it is an entertaining and powerful story of what people went through during one of the twentieth centuries darkest periods.Four stars.
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  • Onceinabluemoon
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 rounding up because I can't even imagine walking a day in her footsteps! And she was a mother... We are all made of different cloth, hers was steel, mine is lint, just stunned at her strength 💪!
  • Caitlin
    January 1, 1970
    "And there was something about the eyes - dark, determined...defiant. If his instincts were right, this was a girl who would throw herself headlong into danger. He wrote the letter."Code Name: Lise is a non-fiction thriller that tells the daring and riveting story of Odette Sansom, a woman from France who had made a new home for herself in England and left it all behind in 1942 to aid both her new and old homes in getting rid of the Nazis. Sansom became an SOE courier, a job with a rather fright "And there was something about the eyes - dark, determined...defiant. If his instincts were right, this was a girl who would throw herself headlong into danger. He wrote the letter."Code Name: Lise is a non-fiction thriller that tells the daring and riveting story of Odette Sansom, a woman from France who had made a new home for herself in England and left it all behind in 1942 to aid both her new and old homes in getting rid of the Nazis. Sansom became an SOE courier, a job with a rather frightening casualty rate, joining the others in the SPINDLE network in southern France where they supported local resistance groups and sabotage efforts against the Nazis. This brings Odette, her charming superior officer Peter Churchill and their radio operator, Arnaud, into the crosshairs of the German spy hunter Hugo Bleicher. It'll take all of their wits and skill to make it out of the war alive and there's no guarantees, not in love and not in war. I suspect that the reader's feelings on this book will be heavily determined by how much they care about the separation between historical fact and fiction. Code Name: Lise is written as a thriller, using primary sources to "re-create each scene from the eyewitness account of one of the principal players, and often from accounts of two or three. With the exception of about four lines, every quotation of dialogue in the book is verbatim from primary sources." Loftis also construed emotions "simply from knowing details of what occurred, and applying the natural reactions anyone would have." (These quotes are from Loftis himself, in the preface) As someone with an undergraduate degree in history and a love of reading historical non-fiction, this concept makes me uncomfortable at best. I have some doubts about there being any universal reaction that everyone has to a situation and I dislike ascribing emotion or verbatim conversations to historical events decades in the past. I would probably have been less...uncomfortable with the way that Loftis writes emotional scenes if he didn't have an almost impressive flair for dramatics and a truly obnoxious habit of ending every chapter with a cliffhanger. One or two can be utilized for effect but having all twenty three chapters end with them was more than a bit overboard. Both tactics occasionally annoyed me. That is not, however, to say that there's nothing good about the story. Code Name: Lise is thrilling and even my gripes about writing style didn't keep me from enjoying the story. It was easy to admire and empathize with Lise and Peter and the other heroes in the story and I truly cared about what happened to them. And the appendix which dealt with some of the controversy surrounding the SOE after the end of the war was fascinating. I appreciated that Loftis didn't sugarcoat any faults in Lise or Peter, he showed them as people who were heroic in a very dangerous time but who were ultimately as capable of screwing up as anyone else. Overall, it was an inspiring tale that I'm glad is getting attention again. For those who don't mind more of a blend between historical fact and thrillers and enjoy stories about spies tangling with Nazis, Code Name: Lise will probably be your next favorite read. I certainly didn't hate it, but I think I'll be sticking to my traditional historical non-fiction rather than venturing into the non-fiction thriller territory again.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    Code name:Lise. The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing. Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission. It is here that she meets her commanding officer, Captain Peter Churchill.As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are b Code name:Lise. The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing. Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission. It is here that she meets her commanding officer, Captain Peter Churchill.As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police Sergeant Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them. They are sent to Paris’ Fresnes prison, and from there to concentration camps in Germany where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues.In Code Name: Lise, Larry Loftis paints a portrait of true courage, patriotism, and love — of two incredibly heroic people who endured unimaginable horrors and degradations. He seamlessly weaves together the touching romance between Odette and Peter and the thrilling cat and mouse game between them and Sergeant Bleicher. With this amazing testament to the human spirit, Loftis proves once again that he is adept at writing “nonfiction that reads like a page-turning novel”. Definitely on-the-edge-of-your-seat reading-well for me, listening! There was a movie, Odette, made after the war that tells her story. The days after the fall of Berlin and the suicide of Hitler keep you on the edge of your seat as well.
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  • annapi
    January 1, 1970
    This is the story of Britain's most highly decorated spy, an astoundingly courageous and daring woman. It's full of action, suspense, and even romance - and it's all true. Though the term "non-fiction thriller" may seem oxymoronic at first, this book is a perfect example of the genre. Because of the wealth of documentation on this, especially from the principals themselves in the form of debriefing statements and memoirs, even the dialogue is accurate and not at all made up. It's written like a This is the story of Britain's most highly decorated spy, an astoundingly courageous and daring woman. It's full of action, suspense, and even romance - and it's all true. Though the term "non-fiction thriller" may seem oxymoronic at first, this book is a perfect example of the genre. Because of the wealth of documentation on this, especially from the principals themselves in the form of debriefing statements and memoirs, even the dialogue is accurate and not at all made up. It's written like a thriller, which makes it a fast-paced and easy read, but it's a straight-forward account of the activities of the spy protagonists in World War II. It's quite compelling and I highly recommend it, but a warning to the weak-stomached - it has descriptions of torture and the atrocities of the Nazi concentration camps and prisons.
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  • Fergie
    January 1, 1970
    An unbelievable, truly moving story of WWII's most highly decorated spy. In honor of International Women's Day, I thought this would be a nice way to honor a woman who put aside her own personal safety and desires in order to stand up against injustice, tyranny, & evil. This book is clearly well researched. It's wonderfully compelling and draws upon the remarkable details of Odette Sansom's service in the Allied cause to combat Hitler's nefarious intentions during World War II. Larry Loftis An unbelievable, truly moving story of WWII's most highly decorated spy. In honor of International Women's Day, I thought this would be a nice way to honor a woman who put aside her own personal safety and desires in order to stand up against injustice, tyranny, & evil. This book is clearly well researched. It's wonderfully compelling and draws upon the remarkable details of Odette Sansom's service in the Allied cause to combat Hitler's nefarious intentions during World War II. Larry Loftis writing is seamless. It's a tale of true courage and humility. For the romantics, it's also a story of love. A fantastic read!!!
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  • Bethany Tyler
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars.I kinda paused halfway through because it had to go back to the library....But I really liked this! I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in WW1 and WW2 stories.
  • John Machata
    January 1, 1970
    Liked it. Amazing true spy story.
  • Rae Bates
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent book. What an amazing story. I am disappointed that I had never heard of this woman before now. This book is well written and engaging.
  • T
    January 1, 1970
    I have nothing pithy to say about this book other than these 2 things:1) read it 2) what are you waiting for, read it
  • Virginia Garrett
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent!!This book will keep you on the edge of your seat, you will cry. You will smile. You will fall in love with the characters. You won't be able to out it down.
  • Ivana
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve never heard of the most highly decorated spy woman until I came across this book. What a book! I felt as if I were reading a work of fiction. Incredible story, incredibly well written.
  • Cheri Branham
    January 1, 1970
    Not goodDid not finish the finish the book. Too wordy and not enough content.I'm sure it was a good story but I could not get into it
  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    This book was not what I expected. I figured, join up, train, go to Germany or wherever, sabotage, run like hell, rinse and repeat. First of all Odette was a courtier, but all the duties she had seemed to take a backseat to the story of her capture and the years that followed. You do not have to convince me of the atrocities, I have read enough to know. What seemed to have saved her life was the name "churchill". Or too, it could have been the author's writing I didn't like.
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