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Oct. 16 | A Guest of the Reich: The Story of American Heiress Gertrude Legendre

This entry was posted on Friday, September 20th, 2019

Join TheWashington Post‘s Peter Finn for a look at the dramatic story of Gertrude Legendre, a South Carolina heiress who joined the OSS and became the first American woman in uniform taken prisoner on the Western front—until her escape from Nazi Germany.

When: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 6:00—7:30 p.m.

Where: Rita Liddy Hollings Science Center Rm. 101 (Main Auditorium) | 58 Coming St, Charleston, SC 29424

Tickets: Free and open to the public; Registration is required.

 

Copies of Finn’s book, A Guest of the Reich: The Story of American Heiress Gertrude Legendre’s Dramatic Captivity and Escape from Nazi Germany, will be available for sale and signing at the event. 

This event is cosponsored by the Friends of the Library, Honors College, the College of Charleston Southern Studies Program, and Department of Political Science.

 

About the Book

Gertrude “Gertie” Legendre was a big-game hunter from a wealthy industrial family who lived a charmed life in Jazz Age America. Her adventurous spirit made her the inspiration for the Broadway play Holiday, which became a film starring Katharine Hepburn. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Legendre, by then married and a mother of two, joined the OSS, the wartime spy organization that preceded the CIA. First in Washington and then in London, some of the most closely-held United States government secrets passed through her hands. In A Guest of the Reich, Peter Finn tells the gripping story of how in 1944, while on leave in liberated Paris, Legendre was captured by the Germans after accidentally crossing the front lines.

Subjected to repeated interrogations, including by the Gestapo, Legendre entered a daring game of lies with her captors. The Nazis treated her as a “special prisoner” of the SS and moved her from city to city throughout Germany, where she witnessed the collapse of Hitler’s Reich as no other American did. After six months in captivity, Legendre escaped into Switzerland.

A Guest of the Reich is a propulsive account of a little-known chapter in the history of World War II, as well as a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary woman.

About the Author

Peter Finn is the national security editor at The Washington Post and the co-author of The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction.