In the early 1930s, Nancy Wake was a young woman enjoying a bohemian life in Paris. By the end of the Second World War, she was the Gestapo's most wanted person. As a naive, young journalist, Nancy Wake witnessed a horrific scene of Nazi violence in a Viennese street. From that moment, she declared that she would do everything in her power to rid Europe of the Nazis.
What began as a courier job here and there became a highly successful escape network for Allied soldiers, perfectly camouflaged by Nancy's high-society life in Marseille. Her network was soon so successful – and so notorious – that she was forced to flee France to escape the Gestapo, who had dubbed her 'the white mouse' for her knack of slipping through its traps. But Nancy was a passionate enemy of the Nazis and refused to stay away.
Supplying weapons and training members of a powerful underground fighting force, organising Allied parachute drops, cycling four hundred kilometres across a mountain range to find a new transmitting radio – nothing seemed too difficult in her fight against the Nazis. Peter FitzSimons reveals Nancy Wake's compelling story, a tale of an ordinary woman doing extraordinary things.
©2002 Peter Fitzsimons (P)2010 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
I really enjoyed the story of Nancy Wake. This book was well written and the narration was very well done. I could not stop listening and almost completed the book on the first day I had it. Unfortunately my Mp3 player ran down and I had to recharge the battery. I truly appreciated the no frills approach to the realities of war, and the respect the author showed for the attitudes of the day; neither apologizing for the anger many people felt toward the German people and their supporters nor trying to bring modern rationalization to bear on the role those people played in the war. I would recommend this book to anyone and will!
Such an amazing woman for her time. Her sheer bravery and spirit of mateship and battling for the underdog is so typical of many of Australia's great characters but what made this all the more remarkable is that she was a young, energetic woman who made a stand and fought for what she believed in at huge personal cost. That her story is so largely unknown to mainstream Australia is a shame and deserves to be told. The author wrote with such feminine insight that it was a joy to listen to and he really captured the essence of the gutsy woman that was Nancy Wake. Her end in London was so sad with little recognition from Australia for her truly remarkable war contributions. I hope her recent death reinvigorates interest in her story. She is a national treasure that we should have great pride in.
Am nearing 84, have 3 children, 5 grandchildren and 1 half Japanese great grandson all delightful. Enjoy listening & reading
What a joy to listen to Peter FitzSimons's biography of this incredible lady's or maybe larrikin's is a better word, biography and narrated as though by Nancy herself. Having grown up in WW2, with my father and brother participating, my memories are very clear of the stories of courage during that time. Mr FitzSimon writes great books and articles and I downloaded this book with relish and was not disappointed.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
“Nancy Wake: A Biography of our Greatest War Heroine” by Peter FitzSimons was published in 2010. FitzSimons is an Australian journalist. Nancy Wake was the most decorated women from World War II. FitzSimons’ well-paced and compelling biography is well-documented. FitzSimons drew his research from earlier biographies such as Russell Braddon’s “Nancy Wake: the Story of a Very Brave Woman” published in 1956 and Wake’s autobiography “The White Mouse” published in 1985. FitzSimons also had many interviews with Nancy Wake as well as fellow agents, resistance fighters and Colonel Buckmaster. Buckmaster was head of the British Special operations (BSO).
Wake was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1912. The book covers her early childhood in New Zealand and Australia. After she finished school she moved to England where she learned to be a journalist. She obtained a job as a European correspondent for the Hearst Newspaper and was stationed in Paris. In the 1930’s she witnessed the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement. She reports seeing roving Nazi gangs beat Jewish men and women in the streets of Vienna.
In 1937 Wake married wealthy French industrialist Henri Edmond Fiocca (1898-1943). They were living in Marseille, France when Germany invaded. Nancy became a courier for the French Resistance, then help set up the escape network to help escaping allied soldiers and Jews. The Gestapo called her “The White Mouse”. She became the most wanted person by the Gestapo with a reward for her capture. She had to escape to Britain herself where she was recruited by Colonel Buckmaster. She was trained by the British Special Operations and parachuted into Auvergne, France in 1944. She led over 7000 Maquis, equipping them with the latest arms from England, training them and leading them on assigned (BSO) attacks against the Germans. At the end of the war Wake learned her husband was tortured and killed by the Gestapo because he would not reveal her whereabouts.
FitzSimons’ narrative authentically captures the tone and atmosphere of Wake’s hazardous life. He breathtakingly describes her escapades against the Germans. Wake died in a Veterans home in England on 7 August 2011. For those of you who read German, I understand German author Michael Jurgs wrote a biography of Wake called “Nancy Wake and her fight against the Gestapo in France”. It was published October 2012. Stephanie Daniels did a good job narrating the book and pronouncing all the French names. If you are interested in history and women in war you will enjoy this book.
Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
Peter FitzSimons tells the life story of an extraordinary Australian heroine in Nancy Wake. Nancy Wake grew up poor in Australia after her father abandoned the family about 1915 when Nancy was 2 or 3. At 16 she ran away from the city to the outback and worked as a nurse.
At 18, she inherited a small sum from an aunt and went by ship to New York, where she learned to party, and then on to London, where she became a journalist and continued the party life. While on assignment in Vienna during the 30's, Nancy watched Nazi gangs beating Jews at random in the streets and vowed she would do anything she could to defeat Hitler. In 1939, she married a wealthy Frenchman and lived in Marseilles, living the high life of drinking and parties.
After the fall of France in 1940, Nancy acted as a courier for the Resistance, and also became part of an escape network which helped thousand of Allied troops escape to England. Despite the danger, she continued the work after Marseilles was occupied and became the Gestapo's most wanted person, with a reward of 5 million francs offered. After being arrested and rescued, she escaped to Spain by crossing the Pyrenees mountains on foot.
Back in England Nancy trained with Special Operations and parachuted back into the Auvergne region of France to liaise with the local maquis group. She gained acceptance and respect from the fighting men by drinking them all under the table and then by being braver than all of them. By the end of the war, her maquis group had grown to 7,000 plus, and had a remarkable fighting record.
How can you not like a woman who, while dangling from a tree by her parachute, replies to a Frenchman's remark about the beautiful fruit of the tree, "Don't give me that French s---!"
FitzSimons tells Nancy's story in a somewhat journalistic style. Nancy lived to be 98 and died in 2011, so he had the opportunity to talk with her many times and make it a more personal story than a straight biography. She was a very colorful, down to earth person, and her personal recollections add to the enjoyment of the narrative. Stephanie Daniel does an excellent job of narration.
Fascinating and entertaining.
As a person with dyslexia, audio books give me the opportunity to "read" wonderful books that I would otherwise miss. Thank you for this fabulous service.
What a great story. A girl with more curiosity and determination than sense left her home in Australia and found herself in the middle of France during WWII.
This is an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride, but one of the things I most enjoyed about it was that the author did not paint Nancy as a saint. She smoked and swore and could out-drink most men. She was willful and had some definite personality quirks. I had to keep reminding myself how young she was and the attitudes of the time. (She was just a few years older than my mother.) All this made it much more interesting for me.
I am so glad that I saw this book. It would make great reading for young women, late high school and college age.
I would recommend this a friend. The story is another incredible tale of WWII, one with which I was not familiar. I wish the writer created more story and less telling about the story.
Yes, I would try another book, but I didn't think his approach to writing this book did the story justice. Without the amazing story to build on, I wouldn't have enjoyed listening as much. It got a bit long.
Good reading, no complaints.
I enjoy discovering new stories from this time period, It is quite amazing just how many interesting events happened to "ordinary" people. Reading stories about WWII from different perspectives, county locations, and different people's jobs or involvement helps round out my overall understanding and appreciation of how much was happening concurrently in so many different places and to so many different people.
Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.
This book is all to positive for the protagonist - Nancy Wake. It needs to have some mud thrown at it with other opinions, self-doubt, failures and real mistakes. It all seems that she made it all happen and directed what was going on. She did in many cases, but every hero is human and so should tell us their short comings to help us relate to them, otherwise they do tend to become two dimensional.
Stephanie Daniel is an excellent narrator and her mastery of French is excellent. The material she had to work with was a little below what she is capable of but she made a good go of it. She made this book good.
Give it a go.
I don't like Nancy Wake but that is a personality clash rather than anything she has done that is wrong. She has done some great things, believed in what she was doing, did it in a professional way. She has suffered many loses and had some great rewards. This book describes the hero journey well but there is no 'golden fleece' necessarily at the end. Her story may be embellished and very central focus like many soldiers do, but she has been in combat and so has the right.
As for Peter FitzSimons, I have read many of his books and listen to a few. I generally don't like his style although he can tell a story and he is a likeable chap. Why did I bother to read this book then not liking Nancy or Peter, well because I wanted the story and although the subject and author is not to my liking, I wanted to get a general overview of it and this was a good way. Don't expect a book to change your life, but as for a good yarn, this is a good book.
This was a great story, full of adventure, drama, intrigue. The main character, Nancy Wake, had a larger-than-life experience. She lived through a period where there were clear delineations of good and evil and she fought for the right because it was the right thing to do and it had to be done.
I love books!
I had never heard of Nancy Wake before coming across this story. What an amazing life, though, most of us won't ever come close to it. This wasn't like a thriller that you couldn't put down but it was an enjoyable listen that I blew right through.
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