Kidnap in Crete

Could not be further from Crete right now but
I respect and admire what they did for us,
so that we can enjoy the lives that we do now.
Wow that was a long one…

Rick Stroud
Published October 2014

Thank you to the publisher for
providing this book in exchange
for an honest review. This did
not alter my review in any way.

I feel like when I read I am constantly learning something. This is even more true when I read historical non-fiction. I would consider myself pretty learned on World War 2, my dad being pretty much an amateur historian on the subject, but I didn’t know about Crete’s part in the war, how it was used as a German base and how the Cretan people fought back, built a resistance with the help of some dedicated Brits and then kidnapped a Nazi general from practically outside his house.

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An Outback Nurse

An Outback Nurse out the back of my house

Thea Hayes
Allen and Unwin
Published October 2014

Thank you to the publisher for
providing this book in exchange
for an honest review. This did
not alter my review in any way.

Thea Hayes’ An Outback Nurse is a fascinating account of her life as nurse on a cattle station in the Australian outback (title is a little explanatory, I suppose). Thea was a city girl, just home from travels in Europe and the U.S. when she applies for a job in the Northern Territory on a whim. When she accepts the position she couldn’t have known then what her life would have in store for her and she didn’t know a thing about the four million cattle station she would soon be calling home. She found love, life and a home in the middle of nowhere.

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The Boys in the Boat

A beautiful day for reading outside

Daniel James Brown
Published 6th June 2013
Borrowed from my uncle.

I have never had any interest in rowing. But my uncle, whose recommendation I read this off, was a rower and is now a rowing coach. I can easily see why the story of the rowing crew from Washington, nine working class boys trying to work and study and live in the 1930s, whose big ambitions took them to Hitler’s 1936 Olympics in Berlin appealed to my uncle. I didn’t expect it to have such an affect on me.

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The White Divers of Broome

Was going to take a cool photo of this book at the beach, but …. I forgot. So here it is framed by my laptop while I’m studying instead.

John Bailey
Pan Macmillan
Published 1st August 2002 (first published 2001)
Borrowed from my aunt.

I have a few people who I trade books and book recommendations with regularly, but not all of them have the same taste as I do. It’s good, because it means I read things I wouldn’t normally read or didn’t even know about. This was the case for The White Divers of Broome which landed in my hands while recently in Sydney visiting my aunt. Continue reading

The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz

Author: Denis Avey
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Star Rating: 4/5
Date Read: September 15th to 18th, 2013
It is impossible not to be moved by the story of Denis Avey, the man who broke into Auschwitz. A British POW in the second world war, it has taken him 70 years to tell his story. He recognised that it was important for his story to be told and I agree with him.

The title, ‘The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz’, is somewhat misleading but it does not make Avey’s story any less incredible. While a POW, Avey worked alongside the Jewish who were prisoners in Auschwitz III Monowitz. This is not ‘the’ Auschwitz where the mass murders through gassing occurred, although it wasn’t far from there, this is where they housed those fit enough to labour for the German war effort – until of course they were worked to death. On two occasions, Avey swapped places with a Jewish man named Hans, putting his own life at risk so that Hans could have a decent feed and a sleep where he wasn’t in fear of at any moment suddenly being put to death. I think it amazing that Hans would swap back the next day, knowing what it was he had to go back to. The British POWs weren’t treated well, but it was better than the Jewish men were treated.

As well as being the story of Avey’s swap with Hans, this also the story of Avey’s chance meeting with another Jewish man named Ernst, who had a sister relocated through the Kindertransport to England. What followed had me in tears on the train.

I worry that stories like Denis Avey’s, like Hans’ and Ernst’s, will fade as time goes on and we progress further and further from the days of World War II. I think it is so important that we do not forget what happened during the time, lest it happen again.

The Diary of a Young Girl

Author: Anne Frank
Publisher: Bantam
Star Rating:
Date Read: January 5th to 7th, 2014
Read Count:
I have read The Diary of a Young Girl a couple of times now, and every time I can feel the tension building more and more as I get closer and closer to the end. The diary entries end abruptly with 20 pages left in my copy (the afterword) – I was still not ready for it.

Reading Anne Frank’s diary is such a personal experience. She doesn’t hold back, of course never thinking that her diary would pass through the hands of millions of people one day, is unswervingly honest and the reader is entirely encompassed in her world. The reader sees Anne’s hopes and dreams, her trials and little triumphs, her good days and her bad. It is the war, from the point of view of a teenage girl who is locked away in an annexe for two years without stepping outdoors until the Gestapo come for her and her family, for the simple crime of being Jewish.

This diary is so important as a historical document, as are all the stories that came out of the war. It is evidence of a father’s love and devotion to his family and their memory, it tells the story of ordinary people swept up in a war they didn’t ask for. It shows how people fight to keep one another safe in those hard times. There are many heroes in this story.

I cannot read this diary without being moved to tears every single time. I think the publication of this diary has done a whole lot of good in the world as it is now, and I hope it will continue to.