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review 2014-12-11 08:52
Life as an nurse on an outback cattle station
An Outback Nurse: How a City Girl Became an Outback Nurse, Found Love and Had her Life Changed Forever - Thea Hayes

Thank you to Allen & Unwin for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not alter or influence 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.

I really enjoyed this. It is a fascinating slice of history of life out on the land. Farmers are the backbone of our country and Hayes gives us a personal view of what it is like for a woman working as a nurse. It’s not perfect and it’s not always easy. It is a fantastic insight into life on the land and the history of the Australian outback stations and also of the Indigenous people living and working alongside the white man. It is full of interesting anecdotes and stories, some humorous but others a bit more tragic, however all are written in the same light tone which does do a bit of a disservice to the tales she is telling. The writing is not perfect

What this book lacks in writing finesse, though, it makes up with its pure charm of the storytelling and the fascinating tales she was relaying. From the responsibilities of being a nurse to both the white staff and the local Aboriginal population to falling in love with a station hand and raising a family on the land, we are regaled with stories of the Negri races, Aboriginal customs and various celebrations, as well as the history of the Wave Hill Walk Off and other events. It’s funny how, at the time, no one would have realised how they were a part of history or how important it would be that stories like theirs, like Thea’s, are told and passed on through the following generations. An Outback Nurse is a fantastic and interesting account of the Australian spirit, of hard work and fun, of the men and women who helped to build, and continue to build, our country. A wonderful historic read that I highly recommend to people wanting to learn more about life on the land in northern Australia.

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review 2014-12-11 08:50
The brave men of Crete who kidnapped a Nazi general
Kidnap in Crete: The True Story of the Abduction of a Nazi General - Rick Stroud

Thank you to the publishers 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.

The courage and dedication of the Cretan people during the war was outstanding to read. Rick Stroud really brought to life all the key players in the saga, even the abducted general Kreipe, and the Cretan people stood out to me in their quest to protect their homeland. They weren’t going to submit quietly to the Germans even as their threats and devastating actions against the locals increased, but kept building the guerrilla resistance with each Cretan helping out in any way they could, no matter what the repercussions could possibly be.

The writing did, in places, get a little bogged down in details and I found it best and easiest to read when I had absolutely no distractions and enough time to really immerse myself in the narrative. Then I found myself really involved with firstly the set up of what’s happening on Crete at the time of the war (REALLY essential to understanding what happens later on), the characters – real people who actually existed, and the complexity of the plan for the kidnapping of General Kreipe. It’s been argued over the years since whether the kidnapping really achieved anything, but it was the moral booster for the Cretan people (over 400 were involved in the entire operation!) and was considered to be worth the trouble. Stroud explores all details surrounding the kidnap and what came after with clarity and honesty, incorporating multiple primary sources into his research, and leaves it up to the reader to decide what part this kidnap plays in World War 2 history. I was fascinated by the whole affair and in awe of what was accomplished in the rugged mountains of Crete by everyday men who became heroes.

I really enjoyed this read but I also found it easy to put down and leave for a day or two before I felt compelled to go back to it. I found myself reading only small amounts at a time even when I wanted to read more. But it is a fascinating part of World War 2 history and definitely worth the read. Three and a half stars.

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