Tim Brady

Three Ordinary Girls: The Remarkable Story of Three Dutch Teenagers Who Became Spies, Saboteurs, Nazi Assassins—and WWII Heroes

Author Tim Brady on his new book, Three Ordinary Girls: The Remarkable Story of three Dutch Teenagers Who Became Spies, Saboteurs, Nazi Assassins—and WWII Heroes, a story of bravery and sacrifice by ordinary young women who went to extraordinary lengths to protect their community.

The astonishing true story of three fearless female resisters during WWII whose youth and innocence belied their extraordinary daring in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands. It also made them the underground’s most invaluable commodity. Recruited as teenagers, Hannie Schaft, and Dutch sisters Truus and Freddie Oversteegen fulfilled their harrowing missions as spies, saboteurs, and Nazi assassins with remarkable courage, but their stories have remained largely unknown…until now.

May 10, 1940. The Netherlands was swarming with Third Reich troops. In seven days it’s entirely occupied by Nazi Germany. Joining a small resistance cell in the Dutch city of Haarlem were three teenage girls: Hannie Schaft, and sisters Truus and Freddie Oversteegen who would soon band together to form a singular female underground squad.

Smart, fiercely political, devoted solely to the cause, and with nothing to lose but their own lives, Hannie, Truus, and Freddie took terrifying direct action against Nazi targets. That included sheltering fleeing Jews, political dissidents, and Dutch resisters. They sabotaged bridges and railways, and donned disguises to lead children from probable internment in concentration camps to safehouses. They covertly transported weapons and set military facilities ablaze. And they carried out the assassinations of German soldiers and traitors—on public streets and in private traps—with the courage of veteran guerilla fighters and the cunning of seasoned spies.

In telling this true story through the lens of a fearlessly unique trio of freedom fighters, Tim Brady offers a little-known perspective of the Dutch resistance during the war. Of lives under threat; of how these courageous young women became involved in the underground; and of how their dedication evolved into dangerous, life-threatening missions on behalf of Dutch patriots–regardless of the consequences.

Harrowing, emotional, and unforgettable, Three Ordinary Girls finally moves these three icons of resistance into the deserved forefront of world history.

[Recorded March 24, 2022.]

Link to Book at Bookstore

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      Tim Brady

      Tim Brady, MFA, is the author of several highly praised and researched works of nonfiction and history, including HIS FATHER’S SON: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (Penguin Random House); A DEATH IN SAN PIETRO: Ernie Pyle, John Huston and the Fight for Purple Heart Valley (Da Capo); and TWELVE DESPERATE MILES: The Epic WWII Voyage of the S.S. Contessa (Crown). Brady helped to develop the Peabody Award-winning series, Liberty! The American Revolution for PBS and co-wrote Minnesota: A History of the Land, which won a Regional Emmy for Documentary writing.

      Brady is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin (BA History, 1979) and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop (MFA Fiction writing, 1983). For years he has written on the history of the University of Minnesota for the U of M’s Alumni Magazine Minnesota. He also writes for the University of Wisconsin alumni magazine, the U.S. Naval Academy alumni magazine, as well as for Macalester and Carleton Colleges.

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