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The Secret Rescue: An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines Hardcover – May 7, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In 1943, the 807th Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron crash-landed during a storm in Nazi-occupied Albania. They were part of a new army program to transport sick and wounded soldiers to hospitals near the front lines in Italy. The 13 female nurses and 17 men who survived the crash were faced with ensuring their own survival in hostile territory, brutal weather, and mountainous terrain, under the constant threat of Nazi capture. With the help of villagers, Albanian resisters, and British officers, 27 of the survivors trekked more than 600 miles for 62 days before they were rescued. Three nurses who’d been separated from the group were also eventually rescued after spending 135 harrowing days in Albania. Lineberry draws on interviews, diaries, and archival material to recount an amazing WWII survival-and-rescue story that had remained untold by the military and the survivors themselves, who were fearful of the cost to those who helped them. Their secret was kept until the fall of communism in Albania in 1990, when their story of courage and endurance could finally be revealed. --Vanessa Bush

Review

A #1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller

Nominated for the 2014 Edgar Award in the category of Best Fact Crime

"Meticulously recounted by Lineberry. Survivalists and history buffs will relish the daily escapades of this heroic American contingent." -- Publishers Weekly

"Cate Lineberry has written a touching, thrilling, completely engrossing story of great courage under harrowing circumstances. This is a World War II story that few people have ever heard, but, after reading this book, no one will forget." -- Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic

"Cate Lineberry has unearthed a little-known episode of World War II that has all the elements of a classic escape adventure. Carefully researched and compellingly told, The Secret Rescue is a suspenseful story of courage, audacity, and endurance behind enemy lines. I couldn't stop reading it." -- Gary Krist, author of City of Scoundrels

"American nurses and medics, trapped behind enemy lines, hungry and haggard, dodging Nazis, hope dimming as winter gains strength. In Cate Lineberry's gifted hands, the true story of The Secret Rescue is a gripping and suspenseful tale, alive with rich details that carry readers along every step of this remarkable journey." -- Mitchell Zuckoff, author of Lost in Shangri-La and Frozen in Time

"The book combines all of the elements that draw us to WWII stories: the daring of The Guns of Navarone, the suspense of The Great Escape, and the bravery reminiscent of Ill Met by Moonlight. It's the inclusion of so many women, though, that makes this story unique." -- The Daily Beast

"A page turner." -- Medford Mail Tribune

"An impressive feat of history." -- Johns Hopkins Magazine

"The author crisply recounts the harrowing escape of 26 Army medics and nurses who crash-land in Nazi-occupied Albania in 1943 and struggle to survive a brutal winter." -- AARP The Magazine

"Drawing on recent interviews with the sole surviving member of the group, previously classified information, archives, and published and unpublished memoirs, Lineberry deftly describes the Americans' struggles yet doesn't stoop to unnecessary drama or emotion. She shows the group's bravery but also their frustrations, despair, and debilitating lack of understanding of Albanian culture." -- Library Journal

"The Secret Rescue is a well-written and exciting book about heroism and endurance and the complexity of partisan operations during World War II." -- The Bowling Green Daily News

"Lineberry has done us all a great service in rescuing this story... The exciting and grueling story is unique, among other things, for the women who took part in it... This is a welcome documentation, exciting and detailed, of a small but forgotten victory within the larger one." -- The Commercial Dispatch

"A thrilling wartime story...The story of the nurses and how they shared hardships with their male counterparts adds a special dimension to this World War II account." -- History News Network

"Riveting.... Lineberry has made the hitherto unpublished experiences of the nurses and medics of the 807th MAETS-and the four crew members who piloted their plane-a part of World War II written history....[she] offers glimpses into the lives of people who were generally unknown in World War II." -- Army Magazine

"Lineberry seamlessly blends the firsthand accounts from Hayes and the memoirs with declassified British and American material to tell the full story in a gripping, sympathetic style....The Secret Rescue is engaging and well researched." -- America in World War II Magazine

"The Secret Rescue is narrative history at its best. Cate Lineberry uncovers a fascinating, long-forgotten drama that captured the world's attention during the darkest days of World War II and transforms it into a gripping story of courage under fire." -- Daniel Stashower, author of The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War

"Cate Lineberry's The Secret Rescue is the kind of great story that makes you wonder, 'How come I didn't know about this?' A thrilling story of courage behind enemy lines." -- Christopher S. Stewart, author of Jungleland: A Mysterious Lost City, a WWII Spy, and a True Story of Deadly Adventure

"Lineberry takes us into a part of World War II often neglected in war histories - the vantage point of nurses and medics. The medical air evacuations were as dangerous as they were heroic, and after this group of men and women crash lands in Nazi-held Albania, they face daunting physical and cultural challenges. Their story is a courageous journey across not only a foreign landscape, but the topography of the human spirit as well." -- Molly Caldwell Crosby, author of The Great Pearl Heist and The American Plague

"The Secret Rescue by Cate Lineberry is a true, adventure-packed, World War II escape saga, impeccably researched and beautifully written. It is a Five-Star must read." -- Major Jon Naar, Special Operations Executive, responsible for coordinating intelligence gathering and dissemination during the rescue operations.

"The Secret Rescue is an intriguing and spellbinding story. Cate Lineberry has created an amazing piece of work and research that highlights the critical role played by the British clandestine Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in these dramatic events." -- Art Reinhardt, OSS Veteran (China) and OSS Society, Treasurer

"This is an amazing true story of a largely unknown WWII adventure in which 30 female nurses, male medics, and pilots crash landed in Nazi occupied Albania. Cate Lineberry has masterfully shared their incredible story of endurance, frustration, disappointment, hardship, and camaraderie as they spent months evading German soldiers in an effort to escape.... This is a griping tale told in a manner that brings the reader along for the entire journey, encountering one hardship after the other. In the spirit of "Unbroken" this is a tale that will leave you amazed at what humans can endure to survive and how they helped each other overcome the emotional and physical challenges they faced. Lineberry's detailed research and expert fact finding was only exceeded by her easy to follow writing style, making this book a true pleasure to read. Once I started it, I could not put the book down." -- Gary Noesner, author of Stalling For Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator

"The Secret Rescue is the story of their harrowing military service... It's fascinating and makes the work that we complain about today look easy by comparison."—Christine Contillo, RN, BSN, Working Nurse
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1St Edition edition (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316220221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316220224
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (303 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Cate Lineberry was a staff writer and Europe editor for National Geographic Magazine and the web editor for Smithsonian Magazine. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times and other publications. Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, she lives in the greater Washington, DC, area.

Customer Reviews

It was an amazing story of courage.
Tigger785
Thanks again for a very well researched and written story.
Robert L. Grimes
A bit tedious too detailed at times.
F. Carolle Downing

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 85 people found the following review helpful By J. Good on June 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have known of this event for most of my life because my Aunt Lois (Watson) McKenzie was one of the nurses on the flight which crashed in Albania.

Cate Lineberry has written a remarkably book. Well researched and detailed, the book is a pleasure to read. Her style is gripping and enjoyable, while filling in many of the specific details of the ordeal which the group of survivors overcame. Whether the reader is a student of history, or just someone interested in a little known adventure of World War II, this is a great book for adding to the lore of that remarkable generation.

The survivors of the crash were for the most part Army nurses and medics with little or no training in survival behind enemy lines. The geography, language and culture of Albania made that place probably one of the most challenging locations in Europe for the group to try to travel through and to survive. Throw in the ever present threat of discovery by German soldiers, and you have quite a tale of heroism and perseverance for the survivors to just deal with getting through each day.

This book was a joy for me to read. I highly recommend it to anyone who may be interested in learning more about the people who served in World War II.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
An incredibly well written story of heroism and courage! The author has done a stunning job of capturing this amazing story. The group's harrowing adventure comes alive with the myriad of details Lineberry has woven into this compelling narrative. I could not put it down and would recommend without hesitation! Perfect timing for both Mother's Day and Father's Day.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By TWW on June 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is an exciting story of a mostly unknown gem of WWII history. Once you start into the book it will be hard to put it down for wanting to know what will happen next.The book really puts into perspective the danger,discomfort and suffering many of the "Greatest Generation" could and did endure. They don't make people like these anymore.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dixie on May 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What an exciting story that has been kept secret for so long. As a nurse, I appreciate the bravery of the nurses who were embarking on a new adventure in nursing. The hardships that they and the medics endured is inconceivable. The real heroes are the people of Albania who risked everything to help the stranded Americans. I couldn't put it down!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on May 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Secret Rescue is great, I couldn't put it down. The risks these young men and women faced along with the Albanians that helped them escape is truly amazing and inspiring. What is also very surprising is that I had never heard of this story before stumbling across the book. I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in WWII, military nurses and medics, tales of survival and how the human spirit can overcome so much.
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42 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Whyaduc on June 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I love stories like this about WWII and this is an interesting one. The author starts by giving the reader some background on the history of medical evacuation by air and these people were on the leading edge of this. A plane load of Army Air Force medics and nurses in heading to Italy to evacuate wounded soldiers to England when they are caught in a terrible storm and lose their communications. They are forced to crash land in German-occupied central Albania, where they meet partisans who are resisting the Nazis. Allied authorities had no idea where they land or if anyone had survived. The partisans lead them from village to village to keep the Nazis from discovering them and to an area where they can be rescued. The Americans were unprepared for the primitive conditions the hiking through mud and snow in the early part of an Albanian winter. The author makes the Americans seem whiney at times as they are being helped by the partisans. Their trek was very difficult with man setbacks. A very interesting tale. This is one of the many "small stories" that have been published recently, as our WWII heros are passing on.

It is a heart-warming story wit suspense to it. My problem with this book is the author's writing style. At times I felt that I was reading a book written for middle-school students. The author uses very simple language and phrasing, to the point where it distracted me. She is no Hemingway or Doris Kearns-Goodwin; of course who is, but this book is not written for adults.

I am suspicious of some of the five star reviews of this book. I looked at several because I couldn't believe they thought this book was well-written. Many of these five star reviews are the only review the reviewer had submitted.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Kenney on July 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a true story about the brave and dedicated men and women in WWll and how they survived when their plane crashed in Nazi controlled Albania. It took courage and fortitude to survive the elements, hunger and the Nazis. This is a fascinating read about a little known rescue during WWll.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Karen Reed on August 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The storyof the young nurses and medics of the 807th was told brilliantly by this author. What a shame it took 70 years to hear their story of hardship and true grit. Amazing story of a people who risked everything to assist the crew in their escape..
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