America’s greatest spy of WWII was a disabled woman from Baltimore named Virginia Hall. Her little-known story of courage—in the face of intolerance and discrimination—has relevance for today and is brought to life in Craig Gralley’s book Hall of Mirrors.

“A first-rate novel . . . A tremendous read.”

–General David Petraeus, (US Army, Ret.)


“An extraordinary accomplishment  . . . A stunner!”

–Peter Earnest, Founding Executive Director, International Spy Museum


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Hall of Mirrors book cover
Virginia Hall

Photo courtesy of Lorna Catling

Virginia Hall

Virginia’s Personal Trials and Recruitment as a Spy

Virginia Hall lost a portion of her left leg in a hunting accident and quit the US State Department in disgust after being denied advancement because of her disability. When Paris fell to the Nazis, Virginia escaped to London–also under siege and in ruins from German aerial attack. The British cause seemed lost but Churchill had plans to “set Europe ablaze,” with spies and saboteurs, and Virginia was recruited by British Intelligence to become the Allies’ first secret agent to live behind enemy lines in Vichy France.

. . . Betrayal, Escape, and

Once in-place, Virginia developed an extensive network of spies, led jailbreaks and organized resistance forces, but ultimately was betrayed by someone she trusted. As Klaus Barbie (the Gestapo’s “Butcher of Lyon”) closed in, her only avenue of escape in the winter of 1942 was across the snow-capped Pyrenees to freedom in Spain.

Return to France

Despite surviving the harrowing ordeal with her wooden leg she nicknamed “Cuthbert,” Virginia demanded to go back to France. London refused, calling it a suicide mission. The Gestapo was still hunting her, they said, but Hall, undeterred, did go back, this time with America’s new espionage organization, the OSS, on the eve of the D-Day invasion.

Hall of Mirrors, a novel, is written in the voice of Virginia Hall. The book follows the arc of her heroic life and relies on extensive research and insights gained during my 30-year career with the CIA.

To see photos and learn more about Virginia’s life of espionage, click here:

Virginia Hall blog.

Read about Hall of Mirrors in the Washington Post

She was a legendary spy. He worked for three CIA directors. Now he’s writing a novel in her voice.”
—Washington Post

Read my Interview with the New York Post

Recent Articles About Virginia Hall

Studies in Intelligence magazine Cover

A Climb to Freedom

As a former analyst and writer for CIA, I’ve long been captivated by Virginia Hall’s heroic story.  I traveled to France, walked in Virginia’s footsteps, and discovered her escape route over the rugged Pyrenees.  My story, “A Climb to Freedom,was featured in Studies in Intelligence—CIA’s premier journal for intelligence professionals.

Studies in Intelligence magazine Cover

Elan Magazine—Art in the First Person: A Four-Part Series on Virginia Hall

America’s Greatest World War II Spy: Part I 
Élan May 2018

The Life of a Spy Behind the Lines in a World War II France: Part 2
Élan June 2018

Flight Across the Pyrenees: Part 3
Élan July 2018

A Spy to the End: Part 4
Élan August 2018

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