In 1917, the notorious Oriental dancer Mata Hari was arrested on the charge of espionage; less than one year later she was tried and executed—charged with the deaths of at least 50,000 gallant French soldiers. The mistress of many senior Allied officers and government officials, even the French minister of war, she had a sharp intellect and a golden tongue fluent in several languages; she also traveled widely throughout wartorn Europe, with seeming disregard for the political and strategic alliances and borders. But was she actually a spy? In this persuasive new biography, Pat Shipman explores the life and times of the mythic and deeply misunderstood dark-eyed siren to find the truth.
Her blissful Dutch childhood as Margaretha Zelle ended abruptly with her parents' emotionally scarring divorce and, shortly after, her mother's death. Shuttled off to reluctant relations, Margaretha impulsively married a much older man, who gave her syphilis (then incurable) and took her to the Dutch East Indies, where the unhappy marriage exploded into vicious hatred following the death of their oldest child. Fleeing her tragic marriage, she reinvented herself as Mata Hari, a scandalously sensual dancer with an Indies name and an Indies aura about her novel "artistic" dances.
Mata Hari's life reads like both an action-packed adventure tale and passionate, poignant romance. Shipman reveals new information about this beautiful, brilliant, and dangerous woman, tracing the web of connections between her professional and personal lives. Once called "an orchid in a field of dandelions," Mata Hari was one of a kind, a rich and multifaceted personality whose ambitions and talents propelled her breathtaking rise—and her tragic fall.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have always been fascinated with the true story about Mata Hari, but I had never come across any books or articles that would give me an insight into her life and what she did and did not do whilst alive.
Now that I have read Pat Shipman's outstanding account of her life and death; also the reasons that probably led her to do what she did, I am much more the wiser.
It is a very sad story and one cannot help siding with the protagonist. She lived a very full life and despite her end, one has to admire her guts and resilience in the face of so many adversities.
The fact that she died couragesly facing (without a blindfold) a firing squad that was trembling more than she, is testimony enough to her faith in herself and - above all - her innocence.
lots of filler. Chapter 2 goes in long depth about the war her husband was in. the why's of this war and who fought. very little about him, just the history of the war...there was absolutely no need for this drawn out chapter. Also the writer seems to try and add speculation with I guess her trying to be 'naughty' in a way. I can't explain it but for instance when husband was sick and no one really new why, she gave several ideas of what it could be way went on in length about how it most likely is a STD... I haven't finished this book because of these issues. lots of projecting and assumptions.
Incredible story and makes one side with "Hari" since she seems to be innocent and wrongly accused. Worth a read-- and reread!
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