Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Wise Gals by Nathalia Holt

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme that highlights books soon to be released, the ones we’re excited about but haven’t read yet. It’s hosted by Wishful Endings, and was formerly hosted by Breaking the Spine. Y’all can check out all of this week’s Can’t-Wait Wednesday posts here.

Title: Wise Gals

Author: Nathalia Holt

Genre: Non-fiction, History, Political Intelligence, Espionage

Publication Date: September 13, 2022

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons


The never-before-told story of a small cadre of influential female spies in the precarious early days of the CIA—women who helped create the template for cutting-edge espionage (and blazed new paths for equality in the workplace) in the treacherous post-WWII era.

In the wake of World War II, four agents were critical in helping build a new organization that we now know as the CIA. Adelaide Hawkins, Mary Hutchison, Eloise Page, and Elizabeth Sudmeier, called the “wise gals” by their male colleagues because of their sharp sense of humor and even quicker intelligence, were not the stereotypical femme fatale of spy novels. They were smart, courageous, and groundbreaking agents at the top of their class, instrumental in both developing innovative tools for intelligence gathering—and insisting (in their own unique ways) that they receive the credit and pay their expertise deserved.

Throughout the Cold War era, each woman had a vital role to play on the international stage. Adelaide rose through the ranks, developing new cryptosystems that advanced how spies communicate with each other. Mary worked overseas in Europe and Asia, building partnerships and allegiances that would last decades. Elizabeth would risk her life in the Middle East in order to gain intelligence on deadly Soviet weaponry. Eloise would wield influence on scientific and technical operations worldwide, ultimately exposing global terrorism threats. Through their friendship and shared sense of purpose, they rose to positions of power and were able to make real change in a traditionally “male, pale, and Yale” organization—but not without some tragic losses and real heartache along the way.

Holt uses firsthand interviews with past and present officials and declassified government documents to uncover the stories of these four women.

My thoughts:

I loved Holt’s Rise of the Rocket Girls. I checked it out of our local library and devoured it in one day when I was home sick. So when I had the chance to request it on Netgalley, I jumped on it. And when I got the notice that I was approved, I might have done this.

I’m most interested to see how Holt tells the stories of four women who helped to build the CIA!

What do you think? Would you read it? Let me know your thoughts in a comment!

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21 Responses to Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Wise Gals by Nathalia Holt

  1. This isn’t a genre I usually read, but the description sounds very interesting. I’d give it a try.

  2. Ashley S. says:

    This sounds like it’ll be a fascinating read. Thanks for sharing! Hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  3. Cindy Davis says:

    Sounds interesting. I hope you enjoy it when you get a chance to read it.

  4. Great choice! This needs to go on my TBR immediately 🤩

  5. Susan says:

    I hope you get a chance to read this and love it Lisa!📚💜

  6. This sounds really fascinating. It isn’t typically the genre I read, but I think I’d probably like this a lot. I hope you end up loving it!

  7. Jodie says:

    I really enjoy stories of women who make a difference and I’m intrigued by this book!

    • I’m especially interested in books about women whose roles in history may not be as well-known. Like Rosalind Franklin, who had a whole lot to do with the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. But how many people have heard of her?

      Thank you for visiting!

  8. I would definitely read it. It sounds fascinating. Hope you love it! Thanks for coming by and sharing your link.

  9. I don’t read much nonfiction but this book sounds so interesting! I hope you love it.

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