New Nonfiction: The Last Goodnight – Howard Blum

Vanity Fair contributing editor Blum has a long track writing history that reads more like suspense fiction. I joined his fan club late with American Lightning and was happy when Blum came to Harper for Dark Invasion. (As a testament to Blum’s propulsive, cinematic style, that book is in development for a film with Bradley Cooper.)

This newest book is the story of Betty Pack, a Midwestern debutante who became one of MI6 and the OSS’s most valuable intelligence assets in WWII. An American Mata Hari, Pack was described by Time as “a blonde Bond”—charming, beautiful, intelligent and not above using sex to get what she needed. Many of her exploits have remained classified until recently.

This one’s a no-brainer for fans of Mitchell Zuckoff and Eric Larson, as well as the many readers who have already come to look enjoy Blum’s lively storytelling.


“Two ageing former spies—each burdened by dark secrets and hidden motives—steal away for a final rendezvous. Out of that inspired structure unspools a dazzling masterwork of narrative nonfiction that is The Last Goodnight. Howard Blum has vividly captured the extraordinary life of a passionate, complicated, thoroughly modern woman who did nothing less than help win World War II.”
— Mitchell Zuckoff

[Blum] finds an intriguing, beguiling subject in Betty Pack, the Minneapolis-born wife of a British diplomatic functionary who fell into the world of espionage…[I]n Warsaw, Pack was recruited into British intelligence…which wanted desperately to know about the Polish attempts to crack the German Enigma code. With her excellent diplomatic cover and her reckless highflying flair, which Blum portrays with brio, Pack was enlisted to seduce high-level Polish official Count Michal Lubienski, among others…. Subsequently, and rather incredibly, she was able to break into the Vichy French Embassy and secure their naval ciphers. Reading more like a suspense novel than history, Blum’s account brings an unsung heroine to vivid life.”
Kirkus Reviews

 “Blum successfully demonstrates how the intelligence gathered during Pack’s clandestine career directly aided Allied victory. Using recently unclassified files, the author provides an exhilarating rendering of this courageous female agent.”
Library Journal

 The Last Goodnight: A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure, and Betrayal (9780062307675) by Howard Blum. $28.99 hardcover/ 4/12/16 on sale.

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