Love, Lies, and the Unknown Life of Mata HariPaperback - 2007
In 1917, the notorious Oriental dancer Mata Hari was arrested on the charge of espionage; less than one year later she was tried and executed--charged with the deaths of at least 50,000 gallant French soldiers. The mistress of many senior Allied officers and government officials, even the French minister of war, she had a sharp intellect and a golden tongue fluent in several languages; she also traveled widely throughout wartorn Europe, with seeming disregard for the political and strategic alliances and borders. But was she actually a spy? In this persuasive new biography, Pat Shipman explores the life and times of the mythic and deeply misunderstood dark-eyed siren to find the truth.
Her blissful Dutch childhood as Margaretha Zelle ended abruptly with her parents' emotionally scarring divorce and, shortly after, her mother's death. Shuttled off to reluctant relations, Margaretha impulsively married a much older man, who gave her syphilis (then incurable) and took her to the Dutch East Indies, where the unhappy marriage exploded into vicious hatred following the death of their oldest child. Fleeing her tragic marriage, she reinvented herself as Mata Hari, a scandalously sensual dancer with an Indies name and an Indies aura about her novel "artistic" dances.
Mata Hari's life reads like both an action-packed adventure tale and passionate, poignant romance. Shipman reveals new information about this beautiful, brilliant, and dangerous woman, tracing the web of connections between her professional and personal lives. Once called "an orchid in a field of dandelions," Mata Hari was one of a kind, a rich and multifaceted personality whose ambitions and talents propelled her breathtaking rise--and her tragic fall.