Noor Inayat Khan, SOE

Noor Inayat Khan, SOE. Public Domain Image, Royal Air Force, 1944.
In a world full of unrest shrouded by politics, it can be frustrating to find entertaining and valid sources of history. Enter Pulp History.
When researching British SOE (Special Operations Executive) agents and their activities in World War II, a friend recommended Shadow Knights, a Pulp History book by Gary Kamiya. This action-packed graphic novel consists of full-color comic-style illustrations, photographs and renderings of documents, and maps.
The stories told are hard to believe, but all true. Shadow Knights follows the documented actions of multiple SOE agents and cells, including Noor Inayat Khan, a children’s book author and daughter of a Sufi priest. (Noor served as a radio operator for the SOE.) While some agents perform successful missions and escape continental Europe safely, others do not–and each adventure is wrapped up after chapters of mounting tension.
Smedley Butler

Smedley Butler, USMC Hero. Public Domain Image, United States Marine Corps.
Since I enjoyed Shadow Knights, I promptly ordered Devil Dog, a similarly-published pulp history book detailing the story of United States Marine Smedly Darlington Butler, credited with saving America as we know it. I’ve only just begun this book; the first chapter has already educated me immensely on the history of the U.S. and China, helping me to understand some of the political and economic issues we face today.
I strongly recommend both of these books. While I find the illustrations in Shadow Knights to fit my preferences more than those in Devil Dog, both books are equally enjoyable.
The value of these books, as quoted from the publisher: “While Pulp History will appeal to boys and men of all ages, it will also appeal to lovers of history…” Yes, the book’s targeted demographic (like so many geek pop culture items of awesome) is….. boys. Nothing about these novels struck me as oddly masculine. Even the Devil Dog cover image of Butler ‘saving’ a woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty made me think of the era in which the book takes place rather than some dominating patriarchy.

Aside from that, Shadow Knights focuses most intimately on Noor’s triumphs, risks, and achievements. I believe that makes Shadow Knights in particular more appealing to females than to males, though boys and men could certainly use a dose of history about female war heroes, too. I strongly recommend both books to any history lover–but specifically suggest Shadow Knights for teenage girls due to Noor’s heroic tale.
Simon & Schuster published this YouTube video about the Pulp History books.
Have you read the Pulp History books? What do you think? Please leave your comments below!
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