Years ago when The Spy Wore Red was new and had just been released in paperback, I picked up a copy at a bookstore in Sag Harbor. I spent the rest of my Long Island visit sneaking time to read it. It captivated me. A true story of a real spy during World War II.
Well, after re-reading it this week and doing a bit of Googling I'm not so convinced how real it is. Aline Griffith was certainly a very young American girl, working as a model for Hattie Carnegie, when she was recruited to spy for Wild Bill Donovan's newly-formed OSS in Spain. She was a cipher clerk and she led a very lively social life. That is about all one can say for sure about her career as the CIA (successor to the OSS) doesn't make comments on their employees.
However, fact or fiction, the book is exciting and filled with drama and high society goings on. It's a tale of information gathering, whatever has to be done to get it, and danger and hairbreadth escapes as the Americans undercover in Spain search for the mole in their midst.
I went back to this book because of The Time in Between, a novel by Maria Duenas, which I read a couple of weeks ago. That book makes no pretense of being fact, though I do note it borrows some ideas from The Spy Wore Red. But if you are going to read only one book about spying in Spain during World War II, and I feel certain you are going to read only one, at the most, the Duenas book is by far the better choice.
2012 No 132