a riveting story of courage and sacrifice. Finch comes across as impossibly good, almost saintlike. The portrayal seems truthful enough but makes it tough to warm up to her. Engelhart, however, emerges as a vivid character, someone you root for and feel lucky to have known ... Mrazek’s book is a treasure, an eminently readable tribute to the wartime heroism of one brave woman and the astonishing endurance of one determined man.
Details of Finch’s life are blended deftly with the chronology of the Philippines and the world at large ... What is special about this biography is the fashion in which certain interesting and controversial topics come into view ... Mrazek is to be praised for his serious research and superior writing style, both of which make this chronicle of Florence’s real-life adventures an absorbing saga. Her receipt of the Medal of Freedom spotlighted her brave, fearless war effort, just as The Indomitable Florence Finch brings her life and service to our attention.
... Mrazek unfolds her audacious plan to help prisoners and underground freedom fighters. At the same time he provides a dramatic account of Engelhart’s ordeal as a prisoner of war. Mr. Mrazek weaves their stories into a series of short back-and-forth chapters, organized like scenes from a play. The writing is brisk and energetic; the saga unfolds with enormous suspense ... Mr. Mrazek’s description of victims she saw upon entering their headquarters is so harrowing I couldn’t finish reading it ... Mr. Mrazek, a novelist, historian and former congressman, has researched letters, diaries, memoirs and firsthand reminiscences for his detailed account. His most rewarding source is Carl’s prison journal, written in pencil in a small spiral notepad, a meticulous record of prison events and the names of the soldiers who died, along with his musings and even his dreams. Miraculously this little book (and its owner) survived the sinking of the ship taking him to hard labor in Japan ... Perhaps because of that journal, Carl comes across vividly as an outgoing, empathetic character. Florence, despite her heroism, remains somewhat opaque.