"AMONG THE RAREST OF OPERATIVES, WOMEN WORKING OVERSEAS DURING WWII": FIRST EDITION OF UNDERCOVER GIRL, 1947, ELIZABETH MACDONALD'S MEMOIR OF HER CAREER IN "WILD BILL" DONOVAN’S OFFICE OF STRATEGIC SERVICES (OSS)
(DONOVAN, William J) MACDONALD, Elizabeth. Undercover Girl. New York: Macmillan, 1947. Octavo, original gray cloth, original dust jacket. $1750.
First edition of MacDonald’s "fast-paced" account of her pioneering career as one of the "morally tough, physically attractive spies" of the OSS in WWII, with Introduction by legendary OSS Director William Donovan, a splendid copy in the original dust jacket.
In Undercover Girl, MacDonald chronicles her extraordinary career in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). "It was the early 1940s when she began working at the OSS, the nation's first intelligence agency, created by FDR" and led by William "Wild Bill" Donovan. Macdonald, born Elizabeth Peet and also known by her married surname of McIntosh, was "among the rarest of operatives, women working overseas during WWII… Being one of 'Donovan's Girls'—and everyone called them girls then—required a certain independence and willpower to succeed in such a male-dominated work culture… in Undercover Girl, she recounted her exploits and those of other 'morally tough, physically attractive spies'" (Washington Post).
On completing "field-agent training in interrogation techniques, clandestine meetings and use of firearms… MacDonald's fluency in Japanese and background as a newspaperwoman made her ideal for Moral Operations in Asia… spreading authentic-sounding misinformation designed to demoralize and confuse the enemy. Stationed in New Delhi and later Kunming, China—where she befriended the future chef Julia Child—MacDonald participated in efforts to forge fake letters and documents as well as pamphlets and newspaper stories." On one assignment, "she delivered an explosive masquerading as a lump of coal—the device was dubbed 'black Joe' —to a Chinese operative of the OSS. The agent took the dynamite aboard a train ferrying Japanese soldiers and waited for the opportune moment to toss it into the engine before jumping to safety. The train blew up as it crossed a bridge." Undercover Girl was praised on publication as "fast-paced and packed with interest" (New York Times), and singled out as "very informative about not only the purpose and procedure of this little known arm of aggressive war, but of the actual, tangible results… there's enough of Sax Rohmer drama, enough of Walter Winchell social reportage to give it an oddly balanced picture of life behind the front lines, and the ingenuity, imagination and perspiration which combined to produce an effective breakdown of Japanese morale" (Kirkus). Following her career in the OSS, MacDonald worked on classified operations for the CIA. First edition: with "First Printing" stated on copyright page. Introduction by Major General William J. Donovan, "Wartime Director of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)." With photographic portrait of MacDonald by Lotte Jacobi on rear panel of first-issue dust jacket.
Book fine; minimal edge-wear, faintest soiling to bright about-fine dust jacket.