June 2012

Famous Spies: Nancy Wake

Nancy Wake was born in New Zealand in 1912, her family moving to Australia shortly thereafter.  Always an adventurous sort, she ran away from home at 16.  She worked as a nurse for a time, eventually traveling to New York and London.  In London she began practicing journalism and made those skills useful throughout the 1930s in Paris, France.  Her career gave her a unique view into all the events that led up to World War II.

Bond boy bashes bombshells

I wonder if Sean Connery is still a misogynist peeg?

Running across this article about men who were surprisingly abusive to women didn’t phase me at first. Some of the dudes profiled weren’t familiar at all, so what was it to me if they were just like any other random abusive jerk brimming with douche-baggery? Celebrity or not, they’re all in the same bottom-feeding cesspool category to me.

But then I saw a couple that I knew—including Mel Gibson, whom we all know and despise anyway—and I felt my jaw drop seeing this quote from one Sean Connery, whom I love (loved) and never knew this about. Apparently in this Playboy interview—conducted in 1965, before I was born—hell, just after my mother was born—he commented about how it’s completely fine to hit a woman anytime, and how men need to advanced and ahead of women. The slapping, he noted, was especially needed if the woman was a bitch. I kid you not.

Famous Spies: Sarah Emma Edmonds

Sarah Emma Edmonds is perhaps one of the world’s most famous cross-dressers.  During the time of the Civil War, women were not allowed to serve in a combative capacity in the army, so Edmonds decided that in order to join, she would have to pass herself off as a man.  She was extremely patriotic and wished to help the Union army win the war.  The name she used in place of her own was Franklin Flint Thompson.  She joined as a male field nurse, distinguishing herself on the battlefield and being present at many of the most famous battles.  But fighting on the front lines was not enough for Edmonds.  Following the death of a Union spy in enemy territory, she volunteered to take his place.  The review committee accepted her and she made her way across enemy lines.

Famous Spies: Violette Szabo

Violette Szabo was born in Paris in 1922, though would be raised in Britain.  Her husband fought in the war and was killed in action in Africa.  She could have easily lived out her life in an unassuming way, but instead chose to volunteer herself for one of the most dangerous duties of the war - spying.

She was recruited into Britain’s Special Operations Executive based on her excellent skills with a rifle as well as her ability to fluently speak French.  She took to her work with a passion, completing her training quickly.  After training, she would be sent behind enemy lines, into France.

Spies and espionage in the ancient world

The art of spying is almost as old as the practice of warfare itself.  The obtaining of information has always been a critical factor in being able to gain victory over one’s enemies.  More information meant better chances of defeating the enemy, and so leaders have employed spies for ages.  Sometimes these individuals were trained specifically for their tasks, while at other times they were lured from the enemy with promises of power and wealth, or with threats.  The first evidence of espionage being used comes from around 6000 years ago, when Egyptians used internal security forces to ensure that their subjects - particularly those in powerful positions - remained loyal.  Later they would use similar methods to seek out weaknesses in their enemies.  Even the Bible has its tales of spies being employed to gather intelligence, such as before the legendary battle of Jericho.

Famous Spies: Noor Inayat Khan

Noor Inayat Khan was born January of 1914 to a family composed of a father who was Indian royalty and a mother from America.  Though from India, she was raised primarily in London and Paris, living a fairly normal and productive life.  Had not World War II intervened, things may have turned out quite different for her.  She studied child psychology and music, wrote poetry and children’s stories and was known for being a quiet, shy and pacifistic person.  All this changed with the coming of the German occupation.