Intrepid Woman is the memoir of Betty Lussier, who as a young woman went to Britain to help in the fight against the impending Nazi invasion—first as a pilot with the British Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) and then as a spy with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) behind the lines in France. A college student in Maryland when the war began, Lussier traveled across the Atlantic on a small Norwegian freighter through waters infested with prowling Nazi U-boats. Armed with a private pilot's license, she was accepted for service in the ATA and was soon ferrying planes and pilots for the Royal Air Force (RAF). In addition to describing her daily flight work, she vividly illustrates life in wartime England: one egg a month, no heat, and nightly dashes to the air raid shelters as the Luftwaffe circled overhead and dropped their deadly cargo.
After the Normandy invasion Lussier was bitterly disappointed to learn that women pilots were still barred from delivering planes to the combat zones on the continent. Undeterred, she complained to Sir William S. Stephenson, her father's RAF colleague during World War I, who later headed British intelligence in the United States. He steered her to the newly formed American OSS, which was recruiting field agents. Lussier signed on as a counterespionage operative and was trained to identify and apprehend enemy agents, to analyze Nazi radio messages that had been intercepted by the famed Enigma machine, and to disguise them as misinformation for use by the U.S. military. Lussier was assigned to a "SLU" (Special Liaison Unit) and was shipped out to serve at military headquarters in Algeria, Sicily, Italy, and France. She relates her experiences with this unit, which helped set up a chain of double agents and transmit misinformation to the enemy, in compelling detail taking the reader through many tense OSS operations. Her story ends with the Allied victory and her return to civilian life, forever changed by her wartime experience.