Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War by Hal Vaughan

Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War

byHal Vaughan

Kobo ebook | August 16, 2011

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“From this century, in France, three names will remain: de Gaulle, Picasso, and Chanel.” –André Malraux

Coco Chanel created the look of the modern woman and was the high priestess of couture.

She believed in simplicity, and elegance, and freed women from the tyranny of fashion. She inspired women to take off their bone corsets and cut their hair. She used ordinary jersey as couture fabric, elevated the waistline, and created bell-bottom trousers, trench coats, and turtleneck sweaters.

In the 1920s, when Chanel employed more than two thousand people in her workrooms, she had amassed a personal fortune of $15 million and went on to create an empire.

Jean Cocteau once said of Chanel that she had the head of “a little black swan.” And, added Colette, “the heart of a little black bull.”

At the start of World War II, Chanel closed down her couture house and went across the street to live at the Hôtel Ritz. Picasso, her friend, called her “one of the most sensible women in Europe.” She remained at the Ritz for the duration of the war, and after, went on to Switzerland.

For more than half a century, Chanel’s life from 1941 to 1954 has been shrouded in vagueness and rumor, mystery and myth. Neither Chanel nor her many biographers have ever told the full story of these years.

Now Hal Vaughan, in this explosive narrative—part suspense thriller, part wartime portrait—fully pieces together the hidden years of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s life, from the Nazi occupation of Paris to the aftermath of World War II.

Vaughan reveals the truth of Chanel’s long-whispered collaboration with Hitler’s high-ranking officials in occupied Paris from 1940 to 1944. He writes in detail of her decades-long affair with Baron Hans Günther von Dincklage, “Spatz” (“sparrow” in English), described in most Chanel biographies as being an innocuous, English-speaking tennis player, playboy, and harmless dupe—a loyal German soldier and diplomat serving his mother country and not a member of the Nazi party.

In Vaughan’s absorbing, meticulously researched book, Dincklage is revealed to have been a Nazi master spy and German military intelligence agent who ran a spy ring in the Mediterranean and in Paris and reported directly to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, right hand to Hitler.

The book pieces together how Coco Chanel became a German intelligence operative; how and why she was enlisted in a number of spy missions; how she escaped arrest in France after the war, despite her activities being known to the Gaullist intelligence network; how she fled to Switzerland for a nine-year exile with her lover Dincklage. And how, despite the French court’s opening a case concerning Chanel’s espionage activities during the war, she was able to return to Paris at age seventy and triumphantly resurrect and reinvent herself—and rebuild what has become the iconic House of Chanel.

From the Hardcover edition.

Title:Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret WarFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:August 16, 2011Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307957039

ISBN - 13:9780307957030

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Rated 3 out of 5 by from OK Read! Found this book more of a history lesson, not much about Chanel, only little parts she played!
Date published: 2017-12-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok I couldn't put this book down. There is always something going on that keeps you reading
Date published: 2017-10-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok it wasn't the best book i have ever read but it was interesting and had some information that I didnt know before.
Date published: 2017-09-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Book! I like the book...describing a lot of Chanel's life
Date published: 2017-02-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Bought it for a friend I bought this for a friend for her birthday as she loves Coco Chanel. She said it wasn't the best book shes ever read but it was interesting and had some information that she didnt know before.
Date published: 2017-01-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Biography x History Lesson Not best written book BUT you get to discover an unknown side and fate of Coco Chanel.
Date published: 2016-12-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Biography meets history lesson This book isn't the best ever written but its decent. Reading this, I discovered an unknown side to C.C., so far undocumented.
Date published: 2016-12-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Ok This book was okay, not great. I would definitely not read this again.
Date published: 2016-12-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from In Depth & Candid I have read a few memoirs about Coco Chanel as her elegance, creativity and uniqueness always inspire me! So considering this was one of Heather's Picks, I decided to give it a try. It is very much rooted in the World War II period, where Chanel was involved in many trials and tribulations with a lot of controversial characters. There were many things I learned about Chanel in this book that I did not learn from other biographies/memoirs and many things that surprised me. It was also very informative and allowed me to brush up on my WWII history. Many chapters tend to veer off onto many different characters or stories that may have been relevent, but had you forgetting at times that you were reading a book about Coco Chanel. Even so, It was worth reading and I have taken some great knowledge from this book. There is now an extra added touch of mystery to the Chanel No. 5 sitting on my wardrobe ;-)
Date published: 2013-03-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from WWII history lesson I read this book with a view to learning about the life of Coco Chanel, and what I got was a history lesson about WWII. Definitely not enough about Chanel, and too much about WWII and its players. The book was really bogged down by all of the foreign names of people and places, some of which were bit players in the grand scheme of things and served little purpose but to complicate the story. I'm glad I read this book, but it was definitely tough to get through and lacked the biography about Coco that I had been seeking.
Date published: 2013-01-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from really boring as a person who loves fashion I really wanted to know the story of Chanel, but book is extremely boring, hard to read plus I've lost all my respect for Chanel.
Date published: 2013-01-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting, insightful but also hard to get through I am enjoying the book, but it is definitely not in the category of "I just can't put it down!" It is interesting and gives a whole new insight into who Chanel was. I had hoped it would have been written more like The Paris Wife. It is a biography and written as such. It is the complicated names and dates that make it hard to read. I will get through it, but it hasn't grabbed all of my attention.
Date published: 2012-01-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An Eye Opener Well this put a whole new perspective on Chanel! This was not the woman or girl I thought she was. I learned so much about where she came from and how she came to be the iconic figure that she is. The conspiracy and controversy over her life was extremely intriguing. She is certainly not a dull woman and while not someone I would aspire to be, she was able to overcome all misfortune and transform the lives of several in one way or another for generations to come. Trials and tribulations will always come and it is our actions that define us. This spoke deeply into the life of Chanel and gave a view of a woman who was fiercely independant and successul in spite of her humble and tragic beginning. Some might call a role model and others will take from her strength over adversity as an inspiration to make changes for the better themselves. Her opening quote in the first chapter inspired me to continue the ambitious drive.
Date published: 2011-12-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Unbelievable This Bio was an astonishing eye-opener in to the trials of the times. It really makes you wonder what people did for their beliefs, OR, for the love of others. This book was a little dry at times but was nicely broken down with pictures and illustrations from the period. After reading about the personal war of Mlle Chanel, you will be shocked an amazed. You may never look at that little black dress the same, or smell the same innocent scent when you put on your No.5.
Date published: 2011-11-22