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Nancy Wake: SOE's Greatest Heroine Paperback – May 1, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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About the Author

Russell Braddon was imprisoned in Changi for four years during World War II. He is the author of The Naked Island, describing his experiences as a prisoner.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (May 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752454854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752454856
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.9 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read both Nancy Wake's own autobiography and this biography of her. I became interested after hearing her passing mentioned briefly on the evening news, and dug up what books I could about her, and others in the SOE.

Her autobiography was regrettably short, and kind of came acrost that she was embarrassed to write it, but had finally caved in to requests to do so. This book, however, provides far more information about her adventures than did the autobiography, and is a lively and interesting read. Yes, it is written rather childishly, to a degree, but is thorough, well researched, and some aspects are well explained, which is important to people like me, who are not well versed in all the minutiae of WWII.

What you take away from it is a breathtaking sense of OMG! Here was absolutely the RIGHT woman in the RIGHT place at the, sadly, RIGHT time. "Ballsy" barely begins to describe her, and yet everyone interviewed mentions her femininity. It would be an absolute shame for this brave, idealistic woman to fade, forgotten, in to history.

I strongly recommend this book for anyone with an interest in the war, espionage, right versus wrong, and by golly, they ought to put books like this in to the middle and high school curriculums to excite children about history, rather than "dull" them to death. I can still hear my 7th grade teacher in my mind, droning on and on about the Carolingian Period. It was decades before I knew history might be exciting and interesting. And this book is certainly written at a level it could easily be inserted in immediately. (Not mean as a slur to the author). I sincerely hope some enterprising history teacher, somewhere, will have a few books like this, Ian Mortimer's "Time Travellers Guide to the Middle Ages" and the autobiography of free slave John P Parker on his shelves to lend out to tempt kids.
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By TED L on October 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent read about someone few people have heard of. To paraphrase Churchill "The free world owes much to those few true, little known, hero's and heroine's such as Nancy Wake.

She died at age 95 in 2011. Other than an obit in the NY Times, and few other papers, she died in obscurity. I had only heard of her by accident through a recommendation from Amazon.

I strongly recommend this read to anyone who is interested in learning what good humans, as opposed to talkers, have done for the true benefit of the human race.
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Format: Hardcover
Nancy Wake was undoubtedly a very brave woman as the title suggests, and indeed her life is fascinating. As they say, truth is stranger than fiction, and this is a very good story.
However it is a very poorly written story, and the stilted manner of the writing detracts from the story. It is almost childish in its style.
Do yourself and Nancy a favour - try another book to learn of her amazing life.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before I offer my assessment of this amazing book, I would make one comment that does not in any way reflect upon Nancy Wake. The front cover proclaims Nancy as "SOE's Greatest Heroine." I would take issue with that statement. I am not sure that people of such character and stature should be graded as if competitors. They all performed their duties in a manner and with a passion that set them apart, many of them gave their lives. Nancy lived through amazing events in which she was fully engaged at a personal level, but I don't think that Nancy herself would suggest that she merits a higher level of admiration and respect than her 153 colleagues in SOE who fought and died. My above comment goes to the publisher, who in my opinion put dollar signs before human courage and sacrifice. Nancy's book doesn't need to be made to sound dramatic, it is drama from beginning to end.
If this book were fiction, it would be a #1 Best Seller. That it is fact make it (almost) unbelievable. Russell Braddon knows about war from personal experience. He is also a writer, not just someone who writes. We must credit him with writing an amazing story about an amazing lady. A lady who was ready to commit her life in defence of her adopted country at any cost and in any circumstances. Her survival throughout an incredible period of action after D-Day puts the exploits of "007" to shame. Nancy Wake was accepted as a leader by a large group of tough French Resistance men who recognised in her a brand of courage and determination that is not given to many. Australian by birth, she adopted France as her country because she married a Frenchman and she loved France.
If you are an avid reader of the exploits of the SOE, you cannot pass this book by.
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Format: Paperback
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 she 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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