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Nancy Wake: SOE's Greatest Heroine

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  170 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
By 1943, Nancy Wake, who had left Australia in her 20s, was number one on the Gestapo's most wanted list. She led a raid on Gestapo Headquarters in Montucon, killed a sentry with her bare hands and shot her way through road blocks. Her husband was executed by the Gestapo because he wouldn't reveal her whereabouts. This is her story.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by The History Press (first published 1958)
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Bev Walkling
Nancy Wake was an incredible woman. Born in New Zealand, raised in Australia, traveling to various international spots in young adulthood, she ended up in Paris as a European news correspondent. She married a wealthy Frenchman, Henri Fiocca,in November 1939 and settled in Marseilles where she improved her French language skills learning to speak idiomatic French (including lots of swear words!).

At the onset of the war,Nancy learned to drive (badly) and had her husband buy her an ambulance so she
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Pamela
WOW . . . WOW . . . WOW!!!!! Nancy Wake was an extraordinarily AMAZING women!!!!!!

I first heard of the "White Mouse" in: Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue. Utterly awestruck, reading about one of Nancy's particularly heroically mind-blowing missions, which involved riding a bicycle five-hundred-kilometers over rugged and mountainous terrain in just under seventy-two hours. That mission, saved countless lives. Including the men under her SOS
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Pete daPixie
Apr 08, 2016 Pete daPixie rated it liked it
Shelves: history-wwii, biogs, women
Nancy Wake could have been a descendant of Hereward for all I knew. Thankfully I've read Russell Braddon's biography from 1956, and I've learned that she was one of those amazing heroines of the Second World War.
Not only is this a fantastic true life story, Braddon's lively narrative reads like a fictional bestseller. Nancy Wake was born in 1912 in Wellington, New Zealand and suffered a broken home after the family moved to Australia. She left home at 16 and traveled to London, New York and Pari
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Suzannah
Feb 04, 2016 Suzannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read for the second time 28 January 2016.

Utterly thrilling, incredible, gripping tale of the Allies' most highly-decorated servicewoman, Australian Resistance heroine Nancy Wake. If you think Agent Carter is awesome, think again.

Full review now available on Vintage Novels!
John
Dec 19, 2011 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the most compelling real life story I have read since The Devil in the White City. What Nancy Wake did over the course of WW2 doesn’t seem like it could be true. All her escapades, escapes, and skirmishes would make James Bond jealous. But hers were real. In fact, I had to remind myself several times when reading, that it was real, not fiction.

I was awed by Wake’s humble beginnings in the resistance. She was a young, moderately wealthy woman who wanted to stop the Germans, and step by s
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Bonnie
Mar 11, 2013 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great read about one tough, intelligent, courageous woman fighting with the Resistance in France during WWII. Although written in the mid-50s without much description and fluff, this was a great read that described Australian-born Nancy who finds herself in France before the war, married to a well-heeled Frenchman. She takes her married-into-money, her name, her wits and her will to London to be trained, parachutes back into southern France and then leads her various groups of French Res ...more
Victoria Essenberg
I loved this book because I wasn't just reading an account of events and their date/time/location. There were details about relationships and personalities that made me wishing I had a time machine and could sit in Nancy Wake's kitchen while she prepared a meal for officers, or risked her life traveling to bring someone to safety.

The actual writing was a bit weak. However, the story was so unbelievable and entertaining I couldn't put the book down. It is a read that will have you scouring the i
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Frankie Brazelton
This generation has seen a renaissance in YA novels portraying strong female heroines. The fascination for women of all ages is of little wonder. We all want to see ourselves as strong, confident and intelligent ass-kicking chicks. Of course that’s appealing! We want to embrace our feminism while also taking our place as equals in this patriarchal world. What has been missing from past generations? Well for starters, our history books have been grievously lacking where it concerns women and our ...more
Stephanie
A compelling biography of Nancy Wake’s life during WWII. Nancy Wake (with her husband) first provided vital support for the maquis groups of the French Resistance during WWII. Later, she became an important leader within it when she became a British special operations executive agent, after she was forced to flee France.

For me, this book was an interesting account of a fascinating woman (and that author does a wonderful job at both portraying her in a positive light and a negative one—she really
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Erin
Feb 03, 2012 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, biography, wwii
I rarely read adult books, especially biographies, but I picked this up after recently finishing the fictional Tamar by Mal Peet, a book about British SOE operatives invloved in the Dutch resistance during WWII. When I saw this, I thought it might be nice to read a nonfiction account of a resistance hero. Nancy Wake, married to a wealthy Frenchman and living in Marseille at the start of WWII, began to help Allied soliders escape occupied France early on in the war. After more than 2 years of sli ...more
Emma
Nancy Wake, the New Zealand born, Australian bred, French Resistance member. Nancy played a key role in the liberation of France. Still in her early twenties this woman led the Maquis d'Auvergne and was crucial to the numerous secret operatives of sabotage and resistance played out during WWII by the French that refused to be conquered.

When I first picked this book up, knowing nothing about Nancy Wake, I was expecting another typically depressing and horrific war time story. On the contrary, thi
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Jen
Aug 09, 2013 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nancy Wake was a true heroine of WWII, an SOE operative who survived when very few did. Born in New Zealand, Wake was working as a journalist in France in the 1930's. She met the very wealthy Henri Fiocca in 1937; they married in 1939.

Her marriage to one of the leading French industrialists provided Nancy with a life of leisure and luxury. When the Germans occupied France, however, Wake abandoned the pampered life and became a courier for the French Resistance. Known as the White Mouse, Wake was
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Robin Webster
Jul 04, 2012 Robin Webster rated it really liked it
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 Sebasti ...more
Myriam
Jul 04, 2013 Myriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was quite interesting and gave a good picture of the Resistance in France during WWII. It had some annoying points though. Like the author commented over and over about her femininity. I don't know if she (Wake) felt that was very important and that's why he did it, or if it was just important to him, or it just felt so different in that time (written in 1956), but it got kind of old. Also, it seemed like it just painted this fun easy picture of the Resistance movement. There were ofte ...more
Yan
Nov 30, 2014 Yan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
A heart-stopping true account of the wartime adventures of a woman who went from being a Marseilles socialite to the courageous leader of 7000 Maquis fighters. Nancy Wake was essentially a real life Agent Carter - irrepressible, tough, stylish, hard-drinking and intensely intelligent.

A word on the style: just keep going past the first few pages and you'll be fine. The first page has a description of Wake's eyes changing colour with her emotions that's like the worst, most purple of fanfic, but o
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Rhiannon
Jul 15, 2014 Rhiannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastically written history that still maintains a very human connection to the story. The telling of this often complicated journey was told in a way that was simple but not simplistic. I enjoyed it thoroughly. A definite must read for anyone interested in women's history, the french resistance or just ww2 in general.
Agatha
Apr 09, 2015 Agatha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A post from A MIGHTY GIRL (on Facebook) got me intrigued about this woman spy during WWII and prompted me to look up this book, one of the ones they recommended. A very interesting and thrilling read. What a wonderful female role model, for ourselves or for our daughters!
Amy
Oct 18, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
An amazing story giving real insight into the life of Nancy Wake a fabulous leader and a real inspiration. Written with first hand accounts from Nancy and those who knew her it is a convincing illustration.
A real life 'code name verity'.
Lisa
Jan 19, 2012 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Toni
If anyone needed a heroine, this book has the story of the perfect one. Nancy Wake is little known in the teachings of modern history in Australian schools but played an integral role in the french resistance. Nancy was brave beyond her years and took on dangerous responsibilities in an era when men fought the wars. It is no surprise that Nancy was decorated with medals following the war. I wish the story of Nancy Wake was as well known as other war heroes like Weary Dunlop. The book was difficu ...more
Kathryn
Dec 02, 2012 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summary: Nancy Wake, a "Housewife of Marseilles County" leave behind a life of luxury to fight in the Resistance during World War II.

Why I Read This: For an article.

Review: This was actually not a bad book. Normally the books that I read for these articles are incredibly dull, but this one read kind of like an action movie. In fact, I expect a movie to be made about her very soon -- probably Steven Spielberg -- opulence and violence is an alluring combination.
Ann
Aug 01, 2013 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nancy Wake is one of the true heroines of the Second World War. Her daring feats and her six escape attempts from France will keep you on the edge of your seat. When she returns to Britain she then joins the British Operations Executive. Parachuted back to France to become the virtual leader of a 7,000 strong branch of the Maquis. This book tells the extraordinary wartime story of this exceptional woman. I highly recommend this book.
victoria.p
Jan 19, 2014 victoria.p rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Highly enjoyable biography/history. Nancy Wake was an amazing badass. Where is the series of blockbuster movies about her?
Kate
Feb 14, 2012 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up in a bookshop while away and read it pretty much in one go. While it may not give you an accurate overview of the French resistance it's a fascinating story of one woman's war. Nancy parachutes into France as a British SOE and virtually ends up leading an army of nearly 7,000 resistance fighters with a stuff -and-nonsense, just up roll your sleeves and get on with it attitude. Definitely worth a read.
Amy
Jan 07, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For research re: French resistance during WWII. In terms of historical quality, a 2 out of 5 because it's one of those books that serve to glamorize and make the French Resistance seem heroic. It's definitely not an unbiased account. But in terms of specific details and readability, it's a 4 out of 5.
Marie Smith
Jun 13, 2013 Marie Smith rated it it was amazing
A thoroughly compelling true story of genuine courage and devotion. Gripping from beginning to end, it is a tale not only full of the horrors of war but also love, friendship and humour.

For anyone interesting in resistance and SOE activities in occupied France this book is a must.
Grace Reasoner
Jan 15, 2011 Grace Reasoner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
loving this book! Way different perspective on the war and espionage in WW2. I really like this book and can't wait to see what happens next.
Kate
Jan 05, 2013 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another well read and falling apart favourite - this book sparked an ongoing love of history and the stories behind the headlines
Beatrix
Much preferred Peter Fitzsimmons book on the same subject
Barbara Hiebing
Jan 19, 2013 Barbara Hiebing rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book and a truly amazing woman!
Kathy
Kathy is currently reading it
May 24, 2016
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Russell Reading Braddon was an Australian writer of novels, biographies and TV scripts. His chronicle of his four years as a prisoner of war, "The Naked Island", sold more than a million copies.

Braddon was born in Sydney, Australia, the son of a barrister. He served in the Malayan campaign during World War II. He was held as a prisoner of war by the Japanese in Pudu and Changi prisons and on the T
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