The Indomitable Florence Finch: The Untold Story of a War Widow Turned Resistance Fighter and Savior of American POWs

Hachette. Jul. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9780316422277. $28. BIOG
In his third work of nonfiction on World War II, Mrazek (A Dawn like Thunder) focuses on the life of Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Florence Finch (1915-2016). Born in the Philippines to an American father and a Filipina mother, Florence was sent to school in Manila and never returned to her family’s plantation. She was eventually hired to work for the Office of Army Intelligence and married her first husband, a navy chief petty officer. They were still newlyweds at the outbreak of the war, and he was killed in action in 1942. For two years, she hid her American citizenship and worked at the Philippine Liquid Fuel Distributing Union, aiding the resistance movement. In 1944, she was arrested, raped, and tortured until she was rescued a year later by American troops. Mrazek expertly tells how she later joined the U.S. Coast Guard in order to continue aiding in the war effort, but the war ended before she could be deployed. Final chapters follow her life after the war, with her second husband and two children.
VERDICT Mrazek’s work showcases a wealth of primary-source material, and skillfully invites readers into Florence’s remarkable life. An engaging read for all interested in women’s or 20th-century history.
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