Thursday, June 01, 2006


The Princess Spy

Descendant of Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore. Daughter of a Sufi mystic and an American expatriate, born in Czarist Russia in the shadow of the Kremlin. Raised in Paris in a home called the House of Blessings, she wrote children's stories for French newspapers, and her Twenty Jataka Tales, relating legends of former lives of the Buddha for young readers, was released in several languages. When the Nazis invaded, she and her family fled to England, where she took an Anglicized name and volunteered for the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. Recruited for the Special Operations Executive, she was trained as a field agent and posted as a wireless operator acting undercover in Nazi-occupied Paris. After evading capture for months, providing vital information to British intelligence about events in France, when the Germans finally apprehended her, in ten months of brutal interrogation she refused to reveal any information, including her name or date of birth. Beaten almost to death, before a single bullet to the head ended her life, her last word was "Liberte."

Noor Inayat Khan. Honestly, if a reader came across a life like this in a work of fiction, it would be rejected as entirely implausible. History is always allowed to be so much less believable than fiction.

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