Isabel Burton (who married the Arabist and explorer Richard), Jane Digby el-Mezrab (Lady Ellenborough, the society beauty who ended up living in the Syrian desert with a Bedouin chieftain), Aimee Dubucq de Rivery (a French convent girl captured by pirates who was gifted to the Sultan’s harem in Istanbul), and Isabelle Eberhardt (a Swiss-Russian linguist who felt most comfortable in boy’s clothes and lived among the Arabs in the Sahara).
Lesley Blanch felt the greatest affinity with Jane Digby, the society beauty who ended up living in the Syrian desert with a Bedouin chieftain: "She had a superb home in Damascus, was uninhibited, rode through life jumping all the fences, social and moral."
A scholarly romantic, Lesley Blanch influenced and inspired generations of writers, readers and critics. The Wilder Shores of Love has remained in print in English since it was first published, and is considered to be an excellent example of the genre narrative non-fiction.
Lesley Blanch was a distinguished writer, artist, drama critic, and features editor of British Vogue during World War II. The author of twelve books, including Journey into the Mind's Eye, The Sabres of Paradise: Conquest and Vengeance in the Caucasus, Around the World in 80 Dishes, Pierre Loti, Pavilions of the Heart and The Nine Tiger Man, she died in 2007, age 103. Her memoirs On the Wilder Shores of Love: A Bohemian Life are published by Virago. To learn more about Lesley, visit her website at lesleyblanch.com
I grew up longing for the day when I could tear down the veil of darkness and absurdity concealing the true face of the universe and discover at last a smile of kindness and wisdom; I grew up in the certitude that one day I should help my fellow men to wrest the world from our enemies and give back the earth to those who ennoble it with their courage and warm it with their love.
Promise at Dawn begins as the story of a mother’s sacrifice: alone and poor, she fights fiercely to give her son the very best. Romain Gary chronicles his childhood in Russia, Poland, and on the French Riveria; he recounts his adventurous life as a young man fighting for France in World War II. But above all he tells the story of the love for his mother that was his very life—their secret and private planet, their wonderland “born out of a mother’s murmur into a child’s ear, a promise whispered at dawn of future triumphs and greatness, of justice and love.”
NPR Best Book of 2017
“Not all superheroes wear capes, and Elizebeth Smith Friedman should be the subject of a future Wonder Woman movie.” — The New York Times
Joining the ranks of Hidden Figures and In the Garden of Beasts, the incredible true story of the greatest codebreaking duo that ever lived, an American woman and her husband who invented the modern science of cryptology together and used it to confront the evils of their time, solving puzzles that unmasked Nazi spies and helped win World War II.
In 1916, at the height of World War I, brilliant Shakespeare expert Elizebeth Smith went to work for an eccentric tycoon on his estate outside Chicago. The tycoon had close ties to the U.S. government, and he soon asked Elizebeth to apply her language skills to an exciting new venture: code-breaking. There she met the man who would become her husband, groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman. Though she and Friedman are in many ways the "Adam and Eve" of the NSA, Elizebeth’s story, incredibly, has never been told.
In The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone chronicles the life of this extraordinary woman, who played an integral role in our nation’s history for forty years. After World War I, Smith used her talents to catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, then accepted a covert mission to discover and expose Nazi spy rings that were spreading like wildfire across South America, advancing ever closer to the United States. As World War II raged, Elizebeth fought a highly classified battle of wits against Hitler’s Reich, cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine used by German spies. Meanwhile, inside an Army vault in Washington, William worked furiously to break Purple, the Japanese version of Enigma—and eventually succeeded, at a terrible cost to his personal life.
Fagone unveils America’s code-breaking history through the prism of Smith’s life, bringing into focus the unforgettable events and colorful personalities that would help shape modern intelligence. Blending the lively pace and compelling detail that are the hallmarks of Erik Larson’s bestsellers with the atmosphere and intensity of The Imitation Game, The Woman Who Smashed Codes is page-turning popular history at its finest.