Spies Like Us: Her License to Kill dives into the covert role of espionage’s femmes fatales, released to coincide with the twenty-fifth James Bond movie.
“I think we’ve watched the guys do it for the last forty years, get out of the way, guys, and put a woman up there.” —Pierce Brosnan, actor, 007
From Mata Hari to the real Moneypenny, Spies Like Us is the decrypted, declassified story of female spies. Insider information from the CIA, MI6, and Mossad helps reveal the incredible stories of the women—all so brave, many notorious—working from the shadows to change the world. Sometimes, international intrigue needs a woman’s touch. . .
Miranda Darling has published two thrillers and a novel and worked on several documentaries as a writer and consultant. Before reading English and modern languages at Oxford, Miranda travelled the world as a fashion model. She has a Masters in Strategic Studies and Defense and publishes widely on the topic of security threats.
Viola Raikhel is the co-author of Iran Modern: Empress of Art and the leading art adviser to private banks, luxury brands, museums, family offices, and UHNW collectors globally. She is regularly called upon for art market insights and is a regular contributor to the Financial Times, CNN, CNBC, and Bloomberg Television news.
1. The Beguilers
The bravery and skill, resilience and resourcefulness of women working behind enemy lines is too often dismissed merely as “seduction.” This chapter reestablishes the mettle of female operatives by exploring history’s famous honey traps—both the honey and the bee!—and the role of sex in international affairs.
Hero story: Despina Storch
2. The Swallows and Ravens
The subjects of Hollywood movies (see: Red Sparrow with Jennifer Lawrence) and MI5 handbooks, these famed Soviet seducers and seductresses were renowned for their ability to get behind enemy lines… and into enemy beds.
Hero story: Margarita Konenkova, Stalin’s spy and Einstein’s lover
3. The Resisters
This chapter highlights the stunningly brave operatives who resisted enemy oppression and occupation through any means available, operating against a constant fear for their lives.
Hero story: Virginia Hall or Nancy Wake
4. Deep Cover
Dedicated to the women who lived hidden, double or even triple lives for extended periods of time, this chapter explores operatives behind enemy lines and in hostile territory. The steely nerves of these sleepers, embedded and sometimes expendable operatives, is not to be downplayed.
Hero story: Shi Pei Pu, Chinese transgender; Madame Butterfly was based on her love story with a French diplomat
A chapter dedicated to the code breakers who compromise clandestine communications, dedicated to deciphering enemy messages and getting the jump on enemy operations.
Hero story: Julia Child
6. The Witnesses
This chapter is an homage to the war reporters and photojournalists who bear witness to the atrocities and bring the stories home to us. The fabulous, hardcore and extremely glamorous witnesses employ many of the same skills, at huge personal risk, to report what they see and to make a difference.
Hero story: Lee Miller, former model, muse to Man Ray, and war reporter, or Marie Colvin, played by Rosamund Pike in A Private War
7. The Assassins
Original research into declassified material on operatives who may have looked like wholesome, blue-eyed farm girls—but didn't hesitate to shoot, kill and even bayonet when necessary.
Hero story: The Night Witches (Russian female pilots in bare-bones plywood biplanes, who flew under the radar with no radios etc, dropping tones of bombs on the Nazis. They were ‘invisible’ and practically soundless except for a ‘whooshing’ noise like a broom, hence the nickname)
8. Hiding in Plain Sight
This chapter features women who were highly visible, hiding in plain sight while working for an ideal greater than themselves. They used the access their fame gave them, as well as the dissemblance it afforded.
Hero story: Either Josephine Baker, Marlena Dietrich, Greta Garbo, or Audrey Hepburn
10. Agents of Influence
Though not career spies, these operatives wielded their connections and money to influence world events.
Hero story: Princess Ashram Pahlavi, twin sister of the Shah of Iran
13. Supplementary Materials