The Fatal Lover: Mata Hari and the Myth of Women in Espionage

Wheelwright, Julie

Published by Trafalgar Square, 1993
ISBN 10: 1855851288 / ISBN 13: 9781855851283
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Nice paperback. No spine crease. Light wear. Minor markings in text. (Shelf location: G) All items carefully packed to avoid damage from moisture and rough handling. Tracking included. Bookseller Inventory # 052149

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Synopsis: More than 70 years after her death, Mata Hari is still a household name throughout the Western world. This is a biography of the Dutch hat-maker's daughter who was executed for espionage after a secret trial during the darkest days of World War I. It examines the myths and fantasies that have grown up around the woman portrayed on screen by such talents as Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo; and it asks questions about the reality of women's role in the exclusive and hidden world of espionage and the way in which the life of Margaretha Zelle McLeod has been mythologized into that of "Mata Hari" - Malay for "rising sun". The book offers the general reader an introduction to the world of espionage, together with insights into the nature of treachery, patriotic hysteria and the perpetuation of the idea of the seductive and dangerous temptress. The author also wrote "Amazons and Military Maidens".

From Kirkus Reviews: While ``Mata Hari'' remains synonymous with the femme fatale trading her body for secrets, this readable biography of the original--the Dutch-born exotic dancer executed by the French in 1917 for espionage--argues that she was framed and challenges the whole notion of women agents as sex workers. Margaretha Zelle MacLeod--daughter of a bankrupt Dutch hat- seller and divorced from an abusive Army captain whose posts took the couple to Java and Sumatra--reinvented herself in Paris in 1904. As Hindu temple-dancer ``Mata Hari,'' she was a sensation, performing almost nude, while the religious origins and authenticity of her ``rites'' were little questioned. With her exotic Orientalist persona, her free spending, her penchant for older men in uniform (and her reliance on their monetary gifts), Mata Hari fit the model of celebrated fin-de-siŠcle courtesan--but after the outbreak of WW I, these same attributes made her suspect. Despite months of surveillance, though, French investigators turned up no evidence that Mata Hari had betrayed French interests to Germany. The investigators did malign her for lying about her past, however, and--as though they contradictorily believed her fabrications--on racial grounds. Meanwhile, according to British author Wheelwright, apparently Mata Hari's only foray into espionage was on behalf of France, after her future interrogator insincerely recruited her. Wheelwright contends that the wartime culture saw all women (unless clearly passive, chaste, and self- sacrificing) as treacherous; the ``international woman'' became a symbol of national betrayal. Indeed, court records (sealed for decades) indicate a trumped-up case--a previously reported conclusion that remains overshadowed by legend. Stronger as biography than as feminist cultural history--and it's too bad that this book (published in England in 1992) wasn't updated to include Britain's new female Secret Service chief at work--at her desk. (Sixteen b&w illustrations) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Fatal Lover: Mata Hari and the Myth of ...
Publisher: Trafalgar Square
Publication Date: 1993
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Good

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Book Description Collins & Brown, 1992. Softcover / Paperback. Book Condition: Fine. No Jacket. First edition. Softcover. Why 90yrs. after her death, is Mata Hari ('Rising Sun' in Malay) still a household name throughout the western world? In this fascinating book, the author examines the myths and fantasies that have grown up around Mata Hari, and questions the reality of women's role in the exclusive and hidden world of espionage. Illus., Notes, Selected Sources, Selected Bibliog. + Index. 186pp. trade size softcover. From the library of true-crime writer, Wilfred Gregg, with his personal b/plate. F. Bookseller Inventory # 13995

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Book Description Collins & Brown Ltd [Mercury House]: Juliet Gardiner Books, London, UK, 1993. Paperback. First Ed UK, so stated. First Ed UK, so stated. Near Fine in Wraps: shows only the most minute indications of use; binding square and secure; text clean. Just a hint of wear to extremities; crease near lower front corner; mildest rubbing; pages tanned a bit. Very close to 'As New'. NOT a Remainder. NOT a Book-Club Edition. NOT an Ex-Library copy. 8vo. 186pp. Trade Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 30357

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