The Ariadne Objective by Wes Davis #BookReview
Book: The Ariadne Objective: The Underground War to Rescue Crete from the Nazis by Wes Davis
Publisher: Crown Publishers
Publication date: 2013
Source: from the publisher for review
Summary: The Ariadne Objective is the story of Crete during World War II after the Germans invaded in a bloody battle followed by a brutal occupation where male civilians were routinely rounded up and killed by firing squads. If the Germans had no interest in the hearts and minds of the people, the British intelligence did. Scholarly men who learned Greek in school worked with the Cretans to perform daring raids and acts of sabotage.
The story begins with the English childhood of Patrick Leigh Fermor, known as Paddy in the field reports. He traveled as a young man, before the War, so we get a glimpse of inter-war Europe. Much of this story, of course, happens on Crete but a surprising amount also takes place in Cairo, a place for R&R and staging.
More than just the bustle, though, Cairo was a world apart in other ways. “There was death and tragedy in Europe,” one war-time resident wrote, “but here all was affluence and sparkle–or so it seemed.” Despite the uniforms in evidence, the war felt far away. In fact, Cairo could seem to a British officer more like home, as it had existed before the war, than London itself. Whereever you went you were likely to run into someone you had known back then. p. 150
Thoughts: I kept thinking, as I read this book, that it should be a movie. The dashing hero would be Paddy, a British spy who reads and discusses books, sports all manner of costume for disguise, and leads his motley crew on daring missions. His sidekick would be William Stanley Moss, described throughout the text as matinee-idol handsome and popular with the ladies.
In fact, Moss wrote a memoir about the most dramatic operation that the British waged on Crete called Ill Met by Moonlight — a new edition came out this year that includes an afterword by Paddy. That book was made into a movie in 1957. It’s not available at Netflix but Amazon has DVDs.
Appeal: The book will appeal to WWII buffs looking for a story they haven’t heard already. I liked it as an unusual pick for my British reading in 2014, the year of my first trip to England.
Challenges: When I signed up for the What’s in a Name Challenge for 2014, I was sure that position of royalty was going to be one of the easier categories. After all, I was embarking on a year of reading about England. How could I not end up with royalty in some title? But, I didn’t. So, I’m counting this one. Ariadne was the daughter of a king and, therefore, in modern nomenclature a princess. It’s the best I got, and I so want to finish this challenge!
I know that I read lots of British books because I smashed the British History Reading Challenge. I expected to read 3 books, but this is number 11. I’m also doing great on the Nonfiction Reading Challenge — I signed up for 16-20 books and this is number 18.
I’ll post this in the British Isles Friday meme next week (if I remember). This is also the first review that I wrote during this weekend’s Review-a-Thon, hosted by The Book Vixen. I’ll schedule most of the reviews I write this weekend for the next couple of weeks, but I want to post them all by the end of the year and I’m running out of days! So, this is the first.
Reviews: Man of la Book also liked this story since it’s reads like a great spy novel, even though it’s nonfiction.
Have you ever read a book and wanted it to be a movie?
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I read Ill Met by Moonlight quite a few years ago when I came across it in my small local library. It led me on to reading Patrick Leigh Fermor’s own books which are beautifully written. Also his entertaining correspondence over decades with the Duchess of Devonshire, one of the Mitford sisters. Do have a look at these books. Their language and humour is lovely.
Thanks, Moira! I’ll take a look at those!