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
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Like (I assume) many of you reading this review, I had never heard of Nancy Wake before coming across this book. What a find! Her story was fascinating.
If you enjoy stories set in WW2 like I do, you'll enjoy this captivating biography of "The White Mouse" as she was referred to by the Gestapo.
She served as a British agent during the later part of World War Two and became a leading figure in the Maquis groups of the French Resistance. Up until this point, I thought the Maquis was a rebel group of space fighters (Chakotay, Seska and B'Elanna) battling against the Cardassians! HA! How stupid do I feel now?
Many people feel that the author's writing style was too humorous and therefore inappropriate but I disagree. I think the slightly dry, sarcastic tone fits the character perfectly! No nonsense, straight forward, not afraid to call a spade a spade. I enjoyed the writing style very much.
This book was great. I was sorry when it was over. I generally read non-fiction and love to learn about previously unknown (to me) women from the past. This book moved swiftly and brought to life a part of the WWII resistance in France. A woman in a man's world who was greatly respected by them.
I had never heard of Nancy Wake prior to listening to this book. She is a true hero. This book is well written and almost perfectly read. I found it very difficult to stop. If this book had been a novel, you might have said "right, who makes this stuff up?" I loved the whole story, from Nancy's time in America and England to her carefree life in Paris. The writing gave the real feel of the Paris streets, the parties and Nancy's step by step change from free spirited wife to resistance fighter. I find it very interesting to read about ordinary people who find themselves in circumstances that bring out extraordinary responses. To see a young woman (not that different from me) who becomes a leader of the French Maquis (thousands of them in fact), and is recognized as having such a great impact on their success is amazing. WWII is full of stories of those who rose to the occasion and did the right thing. What happened after the war was sad in it's anticlimactic return to "normal" life.
Not great literature, but an inspiring read.
Nancy Wakes story is truly remarkable, she was engaged as a spy behind enemy lines and served with courage and pride, I urge every person who is interested in WWII and SOE to read this book, it is superbly written, wittty enough to show her true personality and serious but easily read to understand the terrible risks she undertook. She was also one on the only persons not to receive a medal after the war because of her colonial background. You must read this it is riveting.
Ever heard of Nancy Wake? Well, you probably should have. She was an incredible WWII heroine. What guts this woman had. She was a native Australian who became an undercover agent and explosives expert. She did not seem to flinch at facing the most terrifying of circumstances in order to do what needed to be done. She was responsible for helping countless people get out of France before they could be taken by the Germans. She herself was caught at one point, but she never gave up, and after regaining her freedom, went right back to putting it to the Germans.
I was amazed at the courage and determination of this woman, and wonder why I had never heard of her before.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
This is one of those cases where you read about someone who really impacted history and you're astounded that you've never heard of them before. What a pity that is. Nancy Wake's life during WWII needs to be a movie.
I loved this book. No, the writing isn't fabulous. Nor is the narration. But the heroine is so wonderful it outshines everything. She's just a marvelous character - perhaps born too early for a world that wasn't quite ready for her.
It struck me just how bad we are at integrating veterans back into society once they've made their contribution. Many have lead exciting lives doing impossible things in the face of great danger and yet we expect them to be able to come back into a humdrum world and be fine. Her explanation of life after the war illustrates it perfectly. And her story proves that one woman can make a huge difference.
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.
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.
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!
The amazing Nancy Wake lived life LARGE. But unlike a tale of simple heroics, Peter Fitzsimmons doesn't shy away from the trouble she had reintegrating into a world not at war, how she never felt at home in Australia, her financial worries, her failure at politics and her tumultuous relationship with her mother, amongst other things that made her seem terribly human. I admired her bravery and her cleverness, but I felt for her because of her faults. But she had the last laugh! Well played, Nancy. Recommend.
"well worth the read"
While I myself had never heard of Nancy Wake and only found the book by browsing owing to a few idle few minutes, If you have any interest in the 2nd world war or espionage and courage displayed of real live heros/heroines you will enjoy this book. I can recomend it both as great listening educational and enlightening experience as well as being thought provoking on how her own country ignored her for so long.
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