Category Archives: Madame Fourcade’s Secret War

Madame Fourcade’s Fun Fact #3

FUN FACT #3

Madame Fourcade

For six months after the 31-year-old Fourcade took command of Alliance, she kept her identity a secret from Britain’s MI6, with whom Alliance worked, because she feared its leaders would never tolerate a woman as head of this large and important network. They finally learned the truth in December 1941, when, concealed in a diplomatic mail sack, she was smuggled into neutral Spain to meet with a MI6 representative.


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Madame Fourcade’s Fun Fact #2

FUN FACT #2

Although the French government in Vichy collaborated with Nazi Germany, not everyone in the government was pro-Hitler. In fact, many of the earliest anti-German resisters in France came from Vichy, and the Alliance network was created there just a few months after the country’s 1940 defeat.

Philippe Pétain meeting Hitler in October 1940

Philippe Pétain meeting Hitler in October 1940
(Pétain served as the Chief of State of Vichy France in World War II)
Copyright By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H25217 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Fun facts taken from Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, on sale now.

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Madame Fourcade – Fun Facts

For the next 3 weeks, I will be posting new & interesting fun facts from my new book, Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, on sale now.

FUN FACT #1

Marie-Madeleine Fourcade’s spy network, formally called Alliance, was known as Noah’s Ark by the Gestapo because its agents used the names of animals and birds as their aliases. For her own code name, Fourcade chose “Hedgehog,” a beguiling little animal that, thanks to the spines all over its body, was able to defend itself against its most fearsome adversaries.


Madame Fourcade's Secret War On Sale Now
Madame Fourcade’s Secret War

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“One of the great stories of the French Resistance…of one woman’s courage amid great danger, of heroism, defiance, and, ultimately, victory.”
—Alan Furst, author of A Hero of France

Madame Fourcade’s Secret War

Over the last twenty years, I’ve written eight books of history, most of which deal in some way with World War II and Britain’s role in that war. The books have another common thread: they all focus in some way on unsung heroes  — people of courage and conscience who helped change their country and the world but who, for various reasons, have slipped into the shadows of history. Since most of my books  deal with war, it’s perhaps not surprising that the majority of heroes I’ve spotlighted have been men. But my next book — Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led the Largest French Spy Network Against Hitler — is a major exception. It will be published by Random House in the early spring of 2019.

It’s the amazing, little-known story of Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, a Frenchwoman born to privilege and known for her beauty and glamor, who at the age of 31, became the head of a vast Resistance intelligence organization called Alliance— the only woman to serve as a chef de résistance during World War II. No other French spy network lasted as long or supplied as much crucial intelligence to Allied military commanders, and as a result, the Gestapo pursued Fourcade and Alliance relentlessly, capturing, torturing, and executing hundreds of her three thousand agents. She herself was captured twice but escaped both times  — and continued to hold Alliance together, even as it repeatedly threatened to crumble around her.

Yet as remarkable as Fourcade and her achievements were, she and her network remain virtually unknown. As a female chef, she does not fit into the traditional historical narrative of the French resistance — namely, that all its  leaders were men. The purpose of this book then is to tell her story and give her the credit she is due. It also shines a spotlight on her thousands of agents — ordinary men and women who refused to be silenced and who fought against the destruction of freedom and human dignity in their country. Their moral and physical courage has particular resonance in our own troubled times.