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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Spy Fever

What do James Bond, Jason Bourne and Ethan Hunt all have in common? Apart from being fictional spies, they’re also all men! But history is full of real female spies. And as one spy historian noted, “There are times, quite frankly, when women can get into situations where men can’t.” Let’s look at five of the most famous.

Mata Hari (1876-1917)

Beautiful, seductive and mysterious, Mata Hari is probably the most famous female spy, which is ironic because she may never have done any spying! Born in Holland, Margaretha Geertruida Zelle moved to Paris in 1903. She became an overnight sensation as an exotic (and often virtually naked) dancer. Her stage name was Mata Hari, meaning “sunrise” in Javanese. She lived the high-life; paid for by her many wealthy boyfriends. She once said, “I avoid serious liaisons with men.”

During World War I, she was free to travel around Europe as she was a Dutch citizen, and Holland was officially a neutral country. At some point, a German official offered her money to spy on the French. She accepted, but may have done so simply because she was broke, never intending to fulfil her side of the bargain.

However, in 1917 the Allies arrested Mata Hari for espionage and sentenced her to death. Historians doubt she was really a spy. She may have aroused suspicion simply because she was an independent woman with international connections – a rare thing in those days.

In the end, Mata Hari faced the firing squad in style, dressed in a suit, high heels and silkstockings. And before the soldiers opened fire, she blew a kiss to the priest.

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About Learn Hot English

Great news! The latest issue of Hot English (209) is out now! Learn over 1,000 useful words and expressions and improve your listening skills with Learn Hot English! This month we’re looking at 15 useful phrasal verb commands. Plus, 10 words for talking about the cinema, 15 useful words for talking about the living room, idioms, phrasal verbs... plus: • Jokes – jokes in English. • Technology – spy toys. • Grammar – gerunds & infinitives. • Practical language – agreeing & disagreeing. • Crime – street cameras. • Langauge – phrasal verb particles. • History – spies & spying. • Celebrities – Tom Cruise. • Body language – hand gestures. • Marketing – publicity stunts. • Cuisine – sausage with lemon potatoes. • Cinema – Breakfast at Tiffany’s. • Work – excuses for being late. • Life – key skills. AND LOTS, LOTS MORE! By reading and listening to all this great content, you'll improve your English reading and listening skills and learn up to 1,000 useful words or expressions. Plus, you'll get a better job and pass English-language exams more easily. Guaranteed!