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on 16 September 2009
If anyone deserved a Hollywood blockbuster to be made about her life story, it is Nancy Wake. This book tells the story of a woman who left her home in Australia and met and married a French man in Marseille before the war. Closely identifying with her adopted country, she worked for the Resistance from her home, and was funded by her wealthy and adoring husband. She ran many risks, and was finally forced to flee the country, escaping over the Pyrenees. But once she was back in Britain, she volunteered to return to France to continue fighting the Germans. She trained as an SOE agent, and was parachuted into France, and by dint of personality, came to command a 7000-strong force of Maquisards, organising parachutages, and fighting alongside them on an equal footage.

The blurb on this paperback says that "her war was full of laughter": this is what she told her biographer. Although his prose is sometimes too flippant, and always displays the "chivalrous" attitudes of his time, it is a well-researched book, and conveys Nancy's character well - she loved dressing well and the high life, and there are many instances of her and her men celebrating royally a particular victory. But she was an extraordinary strategist and leader, and this is what surprises me when I look for other books, or films, about her - the fact that she is so little known. Perhaps this is because she had the fortune to survive, so that there is no tragic ending: she lived to be covered with honours, including the George Medal, and to enjoy a long and happy life.
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on 10 July 2012
Russell Braddon has done a good job in telling the story of this amazing woman's war time experiences. Born in New Zealand and married to a wealthy Frenchman at the start of the war. She organized food and messages to resistances groups, started an escape line and ended up on the Gestapo's most wanted list. After escaping to Britain in 1943 returned to France as a member of Special Operations Executive and became the leader of a 7000 strong branch of the resistance. She was an inspiration Sebastian Faulks book `Charlotte Gray' and the 1980's television series `Wish Me Luck'. By the end of the war Nancy Wake had lost her husband all her money and possessions. Despite this when Russell Braddon interviewed her prior to writing the book, she said to him, `Don't you dare write me one of those miserable war books full of horror. My war was full of laughter and people I loved.' He kept to her wishes and by doing so was able to put across to the reader something of her spirit. This book is written in a good old fashion plan style which is suited to the subject matter. Like all good biographies you forget about the writer and just focus on the story of this extraordinary woman.
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on 2 April 2011
This is a remarkable story of a unique and very brave woman whose actions saved the lives of many during the German Occupation of France. Her actions and efforts are an inspiration to the young generation today. Such stories must never be forgotten because they highlight the evil that continues to be done by people in power where true democracy has failed.

The book is well written and has some light hearted moments but the the story is gripping and difficult to put down.
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on 10 January 2012
Nancy Wake was an extrodinary woman who acheived so much during the outbreak of WW2 in France. How she came out of it alive and lived to be 98, I am still amazed!! She was one of the few SOE agents who triumphed over the odds and became a decorative, heroic figure. When the Germans entered France she was one of the few who secretly helped the resistance by giving loads of her own money and taking messages to and from places b/c she easily blended in. The Germans couldn't figure out who she was and so they nicknamed her The White Mouse. She was the Most Wanted person by the Gestapo and had the highest bounty out for a single person at that time. She eventually had to escape across the boder to Spain and it explains the hardship it took for her to get across after several tries. She sadly paid a price for everything she had done, Henri, but she came back with guns blazing when she joined the SOE and helped the French resistance become successful in her area. I found Nancy's story very heroic and her book was a very good read!
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on 24 August 2012
This was a very good book that I couldn't leave alone for long. It is so well written that you imagine yourself in the situations that Nancy was in, not that I ever hope any of us would ever be in. From the start, the picture painted was very clear, the people were described so well, it left you in no doubt who was who, their tasks, their personalities and worries. What a brave, modest woman she was, she sacrificed so much of her life, even her loved ones. I have admiration for her. There is a point in the book where one page is out of sinc, I cannot recall which page it was. I gave it to a friend and she has to read it quickly as there are so many people wanting it after her. My husband also read it, unusual for him to think a book is that good. In a way I am sorry I gave it away, I would have re-read it.
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on 7 October 2011
This book is beautifully written about a special prson who didn't publicise her wartime experiences, this showed her to be exceptionally brave and in her own way to make a difference to the war effort in times of exceptional need. i can recommend this book to any age group. Henry Harris
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on 14 June 2012
Sadly this book seems to be out of print but should be essential reading for anyone who needs a bit of inspiration - and dont we all at the moment.
I wish I could have met her.
She only died last year aged 98.
There is film of her on You tube search for Nanty Wake its called The white mouse.
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The author of this book was an Australian who was captured at Singapore and held by the Japanese for four years during WWII. He wrote 'The Naked Island' in which he details his POW experiences and which became a worldwide best seller. This book was another best seller and was first published in 1956, a time when a great many wartime memoirs and biographies of some who failed to survive and also stories of various wartime exploits (mostly 'Raids') came to be written and published.

It was possible that the success of some of the first examples may have prompted many others to tell and have their stories published. Several of the more heroic, better-known, or most successful of these books were transferred to the big screen. They included such British movies as Sink the Bismarck, Battle of the River Plate, The Dambusters and two about other SOE heroines, Odette and Carve Her Name With Pride among a far larger number. There were similar movies produced elsewhere, probably in similar quantities. For whatever reasons, this story never was included although it was possible that permission was not given (there were several instances where approval for their story was reputedly withheld by the subject).

The story within this book stands aside of the majority of wartime biographies. The subject's sense of adventure and willingness to act quickly and rationally showed at a fairly young age and when barely out of school. This trait would be repeatedly shown as life's challenges appeared. The biography is one of a New Zealand-born woman who spent some of her early life in Australia before returning to her country of birth. Life in both countries in pre-War years could be quite grim and challenging. She ran away from home at 16, worked as a nurse, and upon gaining a small inheritance used that to travel to New York and later to London where she worked as a journalist. Moving to Paris, she met and married a French industrialist late in pre-War 1939 and was present for the German invasion a few months later.

After the fall of France, she worked as a courier within the Resistance and later joined a network helping others escape from the Nazis who were aware of her existence and activities and attempting to locate her. Usually evading their attention, she was once briefly imprisoned but her escape was soon engineered and she was back in action after four days.

She escaped to Spain and reached England where she joined SOE. After training, she was parachuted back to France in April 1944 to assist the Maquis. Working as a courier and an arms distributor to the Maquis, she was liaison between them and SOE. On one occasion, she cycled more than 300 miles, passing successfully through several German check points to replace code books that had to be hurriedly destroyed. She remained in France beyond its liberation.

Decorated post-War by Britain, France (repeatedly), USA and Australia, this very brave woman who had learned that her husband had been tortured to death in 1943, returned to Australia where she stood for election to its Parliament but failed. She then returned to Britain working as an Intelligence officer and then met and married an RAF officer. She resigned her post and later returned to Australia again standing in a later Parliamentary election. Still unelected and later in life, she returned to the UK where she ultimately died in extreme old age.

The book details Nancy's life, concentrating mostly on her wartime activities. She was unafraid to tackle the tasks that caused others to hesitate. Although Nancy Wake's name may not be one that is as readily familiar as are others associated with SOE, she is possibly one of the most courageous and adventurous. Her story deserves to be better known.
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on 30 March 2010
ONLY RECENTLY HEARD OF NANCY WAKE SO WANTED TO READ ABOUT HER.AMAZING LADY SO INSPIRING AND BRAVE. A GOOD READ. EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HER.SHE SAVED SO MANY OF OUR TROOPS DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR OFTEN AT HER OWN EXPENCE FINANCIALLY. SHE RECEIVED THE GEORGE MEDAL AS WELL AS OTHER SEVERAL OTHERS .
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on 24 February 2012
I heard about Nancy Wake when her obituary was in the Times. I enjoy reading about WW2 and she seemed to have had a remarkable life. She was an incredibile brave woman who took enormous risks to help free France from Nazi tyranny working under the direction of British intelligence. She commanded a deep respect for those she fought with and the partizans treated her as an equal. She was very determined and scarificed much for freedom including her husband who died because he would have give her up. A great read of a largely unsung hero.
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