• The Catalpa Rescue

  • The Gripping Story of the Most Dramatic and Successful Prison Break in Australian History
  • By: Peter FitzSimons
  • Narrated by: Michael Carman
  • Length: 16 hrs and 20 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (74 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The incredible true story of one of the most extraordinary and inspirational prison breaks in history.  

Boston, 1869. Members of the Clan na Gael - agitators for an Irish republic - hatch a daring plan to free six Irish political prisoners from the most remote gaol on earth, Fremantle Prison in Western Australia. 

Under the guise of a whale hunt, Captain Anthony sets sail on the Catalpa, risking his life to rescue the men from the prison, known among the inmates as 'a living tomb'. What follows is one of history's greatest escape stories - a tale of courage and cunning that stands as an enormously significant event in the histories of no fewer than four nations.  

Americans were drawn to the story from the first, most particularly to its climactic moment. When the six escaped prisoners are found to be aboard an American whaler - the Catalpa.  

For Ireland, who had suffered English occupation for 700 years, a successful escape would be a call to arms. It would show the English that people capable of launching an escape on the other side of the world really would stop at nothing. For the English the humiliation of an escape would mean the 'Irish question' would not go away.   

And for the young Australia, the Catalpa Rescue was a demonstration that those seeking independence for their own country could triumph, that Great Britain was not unbeatable. Told with FitzSimons' trademark pace and verve, The Catalpa Rescue is a true story that has it all: adventure, politics, morality, colonialism, the fight for independence and, most importantly, the triumph of good men against all odds.

©2019 Peter FitzSimons (P)2019 Hachette Australia Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about The Catalpa Rescue

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Terrific yarn

As always, Peter Fitzsimons tells a great story. I don’t know how historically accurate most of his stories are but honestly does it matter? Peter makes history come alive and gives the characters purpose

My main criticism is minor, but it’s real. While Michael Carman did a great job narrating, the way Peter writes I can hear his voice in my head throughout. He’s a born storyteller and I just wish he’d narrate his own stories.

4 people found this helpful

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Daring Rescue

Michael Carmen was incredible as always. At times I felt he had to carry the story. The story is daring and brave. However I felt a lot of the book was over-detailed in parts that had no purpose for the narrative. Still a must listen. Solid 4 stars.

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Overall very good

I liked the book but it was slow. Certainly a story I had never heard of. One of the most amazing rescues ever attempted. These men had a true love for Ireland and the hero's that apposed the realm. Well done Finnian's

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Thanks Pete

A good source of history that will put into perspective the Irish pride and grudge for those who don't really know. The American whaler captain is a favorite...

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Words cannot convey…

Words cannot convey how incredible this book and narration is. I couldn't stop listening. I will not reveal why, but you must also fully listen to the epilogue. Enjoy, as I am certain you will.

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Amazing and unbelievable

Fascinating story beautifully told and wonderfully narrated!
I've been fascinated by this story for a long time, and this book was a great narrative . It was so interesting to see where the rescue started, what made it necessary, and what happened to everyone when it was over. So many of the events leading up to the rescue were so outlandish that I wouldn't have believed them otherwise. I don't think you can make some of that stuff up.

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  • Niall Cunniffe
  • 05-22-19

Great Story, however

It great story, and it shocks me how few Australians know it.
The story is told in fast paced interesting fashion, however it's somewhat of a rose tinted glasses view of the history but I don't teally have problem with that type of storytelling method.

The only real issue I have is the reader problem of mispronouncing irish people names or place name, this is always distracting but it's also painfully to listen to as Irish born Australian.

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  • Richard Forshaw
  • 09-11-19

brilliant historical Australia/Irish story.

this was a superb story. really well read and very captivating. I thoroughly enjoyed this. anyone with the slightest Irish heritage should listen/read this story

1 person found this helpful

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  • Carolyn
  • 08-25-19

Meaty and captivating

Was a trek through history, had to back track a bit but glad to have read this one

1 person found this helpful

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  • Rob Aughey
  • 08-20-19

How did I not k ow this story?

Wow, I am embarrassed to say I knew nothing of this grand story. A sad indictment on my history teachers perhaps? As a seventh generation Australian of Irish descent - it has been a privilege to learn about these heroes.
Bravo Peter Fitz - your finest book yet!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-11-19

Much more than the story of the Catalpa rescue

irish listeners would find the Irish accent, which was such a big part of the story, very un Irish. the narrator should have known that Irish person and place names are a minefield. He stepped on many mines. That said, his narration was excellent.
Mr Fitzsimons and his research team have excelled themselves. it is a book worthy of a place in any school library in Australia, America or Ireland under the section "History".

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  • Ant
  • 12-06-21

the greatest prison break story of all time

this has to be the greatest prison break story of of all time. if your of Irish descent, West Australian or American you must discover this story.

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  • Kay L.
  • 11-08-21

Captivating from beginning to end

Thoroughly enjoyed both the story and the telling of it. Incredible that this is not fiction but actually happened in history. Excellent mnarrator.

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  • Ange
  • 10-02-21

Amazing story

The story was fascinating and well-researched. The narration was good overall but the ‘Irish’ accents were distracting - a various mixture of pseudo-Ulster/indeterminate southern Irish and West Country English-ish - all rolled in together.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-12-21

Just listen to this!!!

As a West Aussie, I have known the story of the Catalpa since childhood (we sang the song in class). This true story is better than any historical fiction you’ll ever read - truly Peter FitzSimons forte. I think I’m even a bit in love with John Boyle O’Reilly. Any Irish, American or Australian lover of history should ensure they are familiar with this tale of courage, fortitude and audacity. The narration is also excellent.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-01-21

Great

Fantastic. Must Read. What a find. So glad this amazing story has been now brought to my attention. Recommended.