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Shadow Knights: The Secret War Against Hitler

By Gary Kamiya, 160 pp. illustrations by Jeffrey Smith. Simon & Schuster,2010.$19.99.

Britain’s top-secret spy network, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), comes to vivid life in this kickoff for a smart new series of books aimed at grownups and older kids alike: historically accurate, tautly written, and smartly illustrated. Mixing bits of imaginative flight into well-researched fact while dropping comic panels amid actual photos, Shadow Knights follows a few of the thousands of individuals who made SOE work as their dangerous trails wound through war-torn Nazi Europe. Take Noor Inayat Khan, a gentle Indian princess. Before the war, she played the harp and wrote children’s books.In1943, she’s in Paris, sent by the SOE to act as a wireless radio operator for a resistance network dubbed Prosper. Her problem: the Nazis rolled Prosper up before she landed, know her code name, and have set their crack wireless detection teams to tracing her. The average life expectancy of an SOE agent on the ground in Europe at the time: six weeks. Think Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns with more text, genuine history, and real people, and you’re in the zone.


Originally published in the February 2011 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here