Book Title: Velvalee Dickinson: The "Doll Woman" Spy by Barbara Casey
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 184 pages | Genre: True Crime / Historical / Biography
Publisher: Strategic Media Books | Release date: April 2019
Format available for review: print, ebook | Tour dates: May 27 to June 7, 2019
Content Rating: PG - Velvalee Dickinson is appropriate for all ages.
Velvalee Dickinson was born in Sacramento, California, graduated from Stanford University, married three times, and then in the early 1930s moved to New York City where she eventually opened her own exclusive doll shop on the prestigious Madison Avenue. It was there that she built her reputation as an expert in rare, antique, and foreign dolls. She traveled extensively around the country lecturing and exhibiting her dolls while building a wealthy clientele that included Hollywood stars, members of high society, politicians, and other collectors.
When medical bills started to accumulate because of her husband’s poor health and business started to fail with the onset of World War II, she accepted the role as a spy for the Imperial Japanese Government. By hiding coded messages in her correspondence about dolls, she was able to pass on to her Japanese contacts critical military information about the US warships. After surveilling Velvalee for over a year, the FBI arrested her and charged her with espionage and violation of censorship laws. She became the first American woman to face the death penalty on charges of spying for a wartime enemy.
Velvalee Dickinson: The “Doll Woman” Spy is a carefully researched glimpse into the “Doll Woman’s” life as a collector of dolls, and as the highest paid American woman who spied for the Imperial Japanese Government during World War II.
Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Books-a-Million | Add to Goodreads
Review by LAWonder10:
This is a very informative book! As a "history buff" I was not aware of this particular person in history.
Velvalee, was part Japanese and an American citizen. She collected dolls from all over the world and became very well known for buying and selling unique dolls from all over the world.
Just before World War 11, her business began decreasing, her husband became ill and medical bills were accumulating, so she became a spy for the Japanese.
A little of her history, associations, and the results of her activities are told in this well-written account.
Unfortunately, hers and a few others is what made life so bad on other Japanese citizens in the U.S.A. who were innocent yet put in despicable camps.
It is disheartening to discover the price she paid did not, in any way, reflect the crime not only to the country but to all her fellow Japanese citizens.
While building the foundation if the story, I found it slightly hard to "get into it" but that only lasted for e few pages.
I offer a Four and a Half Stars rating* This book was gifted to me in hope of receiving an honest and unbiased review. This is my honest review.
Guest Post: THE DOLL-COLLECTING SPY
I was doing research for another book I am writing when I came across a reference to the “doll woman” who was the first American woman to be sentenced to death for spying during World War II. Knowing very little about doll collecting and even less about spying, I was determined to learn more about what would drive a woman who must have loved dolls to turn traitor to her own country. My search proved to be informative and, as a writer, inspiring, yet also challenging and sad.
These were strange and confusing times in the years leading up to World War II and after. As the country absorbed the shock of the bombing at Pearl Harbor and tried to adjust to the new and difficult reality of rationing and travel restrictions while tearfully watching their loved ones depart for war zones in places unknown, the “Doll Woman,” Velvalee Dickinson, was sending out chatty, gossipy correspondence to her clientele and other doll enthusiasts. It was these letters that would eventually lead to her downfall.
Velvalee had such drive and determination to succeed and find financial security, but she made bad choices to reach her goals. What I feel was even more of a betrayal to the United States was that she never seemed to fully understand the severity of what she had done and, therefore, was unapologetic. In the end she paid the price only to disappear into anonymity.
Meet the Author:
Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her nonfiction true crime book, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. Her nonfiction book, Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave, is under contract for a major film. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency.
Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2018 Barbara received the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and Top Professional Award for her extensive experience and notable accomplishments in the field of publishing and other areas. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband, and three pets who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Reese, a black cat; and Earl Gray, a gray cat and Reese’s best friend.
Connect with the author: Website
Prizes: Win 1 of 2 $20 Amazon gift cards (USA & Canada) + 1 of 2 print copies of Velvalee Dickinson
(USA & Canada) and 1 of 2 gifted Kindle copies (USA) (total 6 winners)
(ends June 14, 2019)
To enter click on the Rafflecopter Giveaway link below!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.