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Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781399601061

Price: £22

ON SALE: 16th May 2024

Genre: Humanities / History / Military History

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‘Deeply researched and written with verve… thoughtful as well as action packed’ The Times

‘Gripping, moving and important’ Simon Sebag Montefiore

‘Agent Zo is a triumph. Absolutely essential reading’ Hallie Rubenhold

This is the incredible story of Elzbieta Zawacka, the WW2 female resistance fighter known as Agent Zo, told here for the very first time. Agent Zo was the only woman to reach London from Warsaw during the Second World War as an emissary of the Polish Home Army command, and then in Britain she became the only woman to join the Polish elite Special Forces, known as the ‘Silent Unseen’. She was secretly trained in the British countryside, and then the only female member of these SOE affiliated forces to be parachuted back behind enemy lines to Nazi-occupied Poland. There, whilst being hunted by the Gestapo who arrested her entire family, she took a leading role in the Warsaw Uprising and the liberation of Poland.

After the war she was demobbed as one of the most highly decorated women in Polish history. Yet the Soviet-backed post-war Communist regime not only imprisoned her, but also ensured that her remarkable story remained hidden for over forty years. Now, through new archival research and exclusive interviews with people who knew and fought alongside Zo, Clare Mulley brings this forgotten heroine back to life, and also transforms how we see the history of women’s agency in the Second World War.

Reviews

This is a terrific story, told with passion and authority, about a Polish woman resistance fighter of extraordinary courage and ingenuity. Not simply a page turner, this is an important addition to the literature of World War Two, a story for our times about female heroism which should be widely known
Anne Sebba, author of Ethel Rosenberg
Gripping, moving and important: an amazing and until-now neglected story of female WW2 heroism and secret derring-do. This tale of the resistance fighter Agent Zo is amazingly told and deeply researched by the excellent historian of WW2 espionage Clare Mulley.
Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of the World: A Family History
In this gripping, forensically researched biography [Mulley] illuminates the awe-inspiring lives of Zo and her sisters-in-arms.... Clare Mulley is a consummate storyteller.
WI Magazine
Written with controlled, unsentimental eloquence and style, [Agent Zo] offers unique and original insights into the vital, if previously unsung role of women in the defence of their homeland.
The Financial Times
Mulley tells this story of industrial-strength heroism with sympathy and feeling
Literary Review
Clare Mulley tells the tale of the remarkable Elzbieta Zawacka with as much flare, passion and insight as her extraordinary heroine deserves. Recognition for Agent Zo's astonishing courage and immense achievements are clearly long overdue, but Clare Mulley vividly and compellingly brings her back to life in what has to be, until now, one of the great untold stories of the war.
James Holland, author of The Savage Storm
Puts any number of espionage thrillers into the shade... Clare Mulley has given us a fine piece of military history, Polish history, and women's history, and all written in a gripping and thoroughly enjoyable style.
Andrew Roberts
Agent Zo is a triumph. The deftly told life of this remarkable heroine helps restore women to their rightful place in the record of the Second World War. Absolutely essential reading.
Hallie Rubenhold, author of The Five
Deeply researched and written with verve... thoughtful as well as action packed.
The Times
Agent Zo is meticulously sourced and its novel-like narrative makes for a most enjoyable book
Caroline Moorehead, Spectator
Agent Zo is the astonishing story of an extraordinary woman - for so long silent and unseen but now, thanks to Clare Mulley's forensic research and razor-sharp eye for detail, no longer forgotten.
Jonathan Freedland, author of The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World
A remarkable story of resistance, elegantly told
Roger Moorhouse, author of The Forgers
Page-turning ... fascinating ... poignant ... This excellent account is a tour de force
Military History Matters