Reviewsday: Nancy Wake

9780732295257Before picking up this book, I must admit that I knew very little about Nancy Wake. I think I had come across the name a couple of times in the past few years, and only really knew that she was a war hero, without ever knowing what she actually contributed.

After finishing the book, I was blown away.

Nancy Wake must be one of the greatest women Australia has ever produced, yet her actions are hardly known within her own country. It was rare enough at the time for a young woman to hop on a boat and decide to travel the world alone, and that was only the start of her adventures! As France fell to Germany in World War II, Nancy aided the escape of Jewish refugees and Allied soldiers, smuggled radios and equipment under the noses of the Gestapo, and became a known enemy of the Nazis, who nicknamed her ‘the White Mouse’ for her ability to evade capture. Even after successfully escaping to Britain as the Germans closed in on her, Nancy wasn’t finished and rejoined the Allied efforts, parachuting back into France to liaise with Resistance groups and co-ordinate their efforts with England.

And yet while reading of all these exploits, Nancy is still a relatable Aussie with a quick wit and cheeky sense of humour. To her, despite all the tragedy, the danger, the sleepless nights and the burning hatred, it was still fun. It’s this unbreakable spirit and humour that makes her remarkable, and also makes her the perfect topic of interest for author Peter Fitzsimons.

Peter Fitzsimons is Australia’s favourite non-fiction author, and it’s easy to see why. His easy conversational style combined with meticulous research makes for an addictive read. Mix in with that the incredible details and character he was dealing with, and I promise this is a story you will never forget.

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