A NEW YORK TIMES EDITOR'S CHOICE
Reviews: "A compelling story that pulsates with the energy of a thriller"—The Wall Street Journal
"Suspense, élan and a generous helping of glamour: Think George Smiley in a mink-trimmed coat."—The New York Times Book Review
The true story of socialite Marguerite Harrison, who spied for U.S. military intelligence in Russia and Germany in the fraught period between the world wars
Born a privileged child of America’s Gilded Age, Marguerite Harrison rebelled against her mother’s ambitions, married the man she loved, was widowed at thirty-seven, and set off on a life of adventure. Hired as a society reporter, when America entered World War I she applied to Military Intelligence to work as a spy.
She arrived in Berlin immediately after the Armistice and befriended the enemy, dining with aristocrats and dancing with socialists. Late into the night she wrote prescient reports on the growing power of the German right. Sent to Moscow, she sneaked into Russia to observe the results of the Bolshevik Revolution. Although she carried press credentials she was caught and imprisoned as an American spy. Terrified when told her only way out was to spy for the Cheka, she became a double agent, aiming to convince the Russian rulers she was working for them while striving to stay loyal to her country.
In Germany and Russia, Harrison saw the future—a second war with Germany, a cold war with the Soviets—but her reports were ignored by many back home. Over a decade, Harrison’s mysterious adventures took her to Europe, Baghdad, and the Far East, as a socialite, secret agent, and documentary filmmaker. Janet Wallach captures Harrison’s daring and glamour in this stranger-than-fiction history of a woman drawn to the impossible.
Janet Wallach is the author of The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age, as well as Seraglio and Chanel: Her Style and Her Life. She is also coauthor, with her husband John Wallach, of three previous books on the Middle East: The New Palestinians; Arafat: In the Eyes of the Beholder; and Still Small Voices: The Real Heroes of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. She lives in New York City.