Velvalee Dickinson + Giveaway

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
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.

To read reviews, please visit Barbara Casey's page on iRead Book Tours.

My Review

I can't recall ever hearing the name Velvalee Dickinson. Yet, I am not surprised that she used dolls to smuggle hidden messages to the Japanese. I have heard and am a little familiar with this mode of communication.

Ms. Casey does give a nice insight into the rise and fall of Velvalee Dickinson. Now, I don't know if there are other details about Velvalee Dickinson as I have not researched her but I do feel like this book was short. Yet, I did find this book to be informative. Readers who like reading nonfiction may want to check out this book.

Velvalee Dickinson was a crucial player in feeding the Japanese information about the Americans leading up to Pearl Harbor. I can't imagine what other details she would have given if she had not been caught when she did. I imagine that Velvalee Dickinson would have been a spy until the day she died.

Buy the Book:

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

By Barbara Casey

How did you do research for your book?
Writing a book about Velvalee Dickinson was somewhat of a challenge since no other book has been written about her. However, because it was such a sensational story at the time and drew international attention and interest, I was able to find a lot of information in period newspapers and other records, both public and private. I also used FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) and the FBI Vault to find information that had never before been released to the public.

In your book you make a reference to doll collecting. How did you come up with this idea?
Velvalee didn’t start collecting dolls until she was in her early forties. During those years and even today, doll collecting remains one of the most popular hobbies with both men and women. I found that whole culture fascinating, and the fact that Velvalee used her dolls to spy against the United States Government introduced an entirely different element of interest.

In your book you mention military bases in California as well as New York City. Have you ever been there?
Actually, I am very familiar with the military bases and Navy shipyards that Velvalee visited as well as New York City where she lived and operated her doll store. My father was an officer in the Marine Corps, and when I was a young girl we were stationed in California. I have also visited New York several times and have seen the building on Madison Avenue where Velvalee owned her store and sold her dolls. It is amazing how some things just never seem to change.

Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?
For me, inspiration comes like a lightning bolt. I might read a line of poetry and suddenly the concept for a book will come into my mind. Or it might come from something in nature that inspires me. For example, the title of Book 3 in my F.I.G. Mystery Series is The Clock Flower. That came from researching the dandelion.

What is your next project?
My last three books to be published have been nonfiction. Two of these have been optioned for major films. Previous to that I wrote nine novels and I have an idea for another novel that I want to explore. I am also doing research on a new nonfiction book.
Cheryl, thank you so much for your interview and your continued interest in my writing. Velvalee was such an interesting woman and in many ways ahead of her time. I appreciate the opportunity to be able to talk about her. My very best to you and your bloggers.

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends June 14, 2019

a Rafflecopter giveaway


James Robert said…
Great post and I appreciate getting to find out about another great book. Thanks for all you do and for the hard work you put into this. Greatly appreciated!
traveler said…
This captivating and unique novel interests me greatly. Thanks for this giveaway and the great review. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com
petite said…
A fascinating story that is unforgettable and would be enjoyed. Many thanks for this feature. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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