The Red Dancer: The Life and Times of Mata Hari

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9780060937799: The Red Dancer: The Life and Times of Mata Hari

In 1895, Margaretha Zelle -- a beautiful young woman from The Hague -- answers a personal ad placed by a Dutch army captain twice her age seeking a wife. After a speedy wedding, they depart for Indonesia, where their marriage collapses amid infidelity, violence, and their son's disturbing death. Margaretha returns to Europe, traveling to Paris, where she reinvents herself as the erotic dancer Mata Hari ("Eye of the Dawn"), the likes of which no one has ever seen. As Europe lurches toward explosive conflict, her reputation as a dancer and courtesan attracts the attention of powerful admirers from Madrid to St. Petersburg. In time she finds herself caught in a military intrigue that would affect the course of World War I.

Narrated by historical figures whose lives intersected with Mata Hari's, The Red Dancer explores the mystery and downfall of a woman who has fascinated historians and inspired artists for nearly a century. From the lush hills of Indonesia to the dance halls of Paris, it brilliantly re-creates the sensual decadence of fin de siècle Europe and the global conflict that ended an era and nearly destroyed a generation.

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About the Author:

Richard Skinner is a journalist and reviewer for the Financial Times, The Guardian, and The Sunday Times. He is 33 and lives in London.

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