Book review: Velvalee Dickinson: The “Doll Woman” Spy by Barbara Casey

Book Details: 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 (PDF, gifted Kindle copy)
Will send print books out:  USA & Canada
Tour dates: May 27 to June 7, 2019
Content Rating: PG – Velvalee Dickinson is appropriate for all ages.

Book Description:

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.

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Barbara Casey

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

REVIEW: Barbara Casey has provided a glimpse into the bizarre and complicated life of Velvalee Dickinson. It was fascinating to learn how a tiny, university-educated woman could prove to be such a threat to the American government and its citizens.

The book is purely biographical in nature and in chronological order. The author includes several pages of photographs that lend credibility and interest to what could have been a dry dissertation. However this was definitely not the case as I could not put the book down. One determines from the onset that Velvalee is a survivor. However, her moral compass was somewhat askew as she had no qualms about pinning blame onto innocent parties, including her dying and mentally impaired husband.

This well-researched, gripping account is easily read in a couple of hours.

BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE:

May 27 – Working Mommy Journal – review / giveaway
May 28 – Readers Cozy Corner – review / giveaway
May 28 – My Devotional Thoughts – review / giveaway
May 29 – Library of Clean Reads – book spotlight / giveaway
May 30 – Literary Flits – review / giveaway
May 31 – #redhead.with.book – review / giveaway
June 3 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – review / giveaway
June 3 – Ani’s Books – review / author interview / giveaway
June 4 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – review / guest post / giveaway
June 4 – Books for Books – review
June 5 – Cheryl’s Book Nook – review / author interview / giveaway
June 6 – Readers’ Muse – review / guest post / giveaway
June 7 – Just Reviews – review

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