Casablanca had Rick. Manila Had Claire

The female American spy who lured secrets from Japanese officers in WW II

A review in Washington Post Book World

By Daniel Stashower

Claire Phillips is greeted by Maj. Kenneth Boggs at La Guardia Airport in New York in 1951. Phillips supplied information to the Allies that saved Boggs’s life. (Bettmann Archive)

The Soldier, the Singer, and the Spymaster Who Defied the Japanese in World War II

By Peter Eisner

Viking. 368 pp. $28

On April 19, 1951, in the wake of his dismissal as commander of American-led forces in Korea, Gen. Douglas MacArthur stood before Congress and famously declared that “old soldiers never die; they just fade away.” Three weeks later, as Peter Eisner notes in his gripping new account of Allied espionage in the Pacific theater during World War II, a low-budget movie called “I Was an American Spy” opened to considerably less fanfare in theaters across America, purporting to tell, as one poster breathlessly proclaimed, “the startling TRUE story of America’s ‘Mata Hari’ of the South Pacific!” This was the enigmatic Claire Phillips, an “alluring chanteuse” from Michigan whose covert activities in the Philippines had brought a Medal of Freedom on the recommendation of “Big Chief” MacArthur himself. MORE



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