No Ordinary Man
If you think everything’s already been written about WWII, think again. Nicky Webber’s new book, No Ordinary Man, has a whole new take on this Kiwi soldier’s life.
This former journalist has developed a unique narrative about an ANZAC soldier fighting in the trenches during the Western Desert War. This true story skillfully combines her creative talents with historical facts and sheds an intriguing light on an unusual character.
To the outside world, Mick Thompson seems like any other young soldier heading off to WWII in 1941. As the war is nearing its zenith, Europe and America throw all their resources at the expanding Nazi terror. But Mick hides a profound secret which he tries to repress as the war expands across Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and into Italy.
Most would say he’s just an ordinary trooper surviving in cramped trenches, where Nazi enemy forces relentlessly pound him day and night. In these circumstances, most of us would revert to jibbering depressives. Instead, Mick creates an alter-ego that goes well beyond his wildest imaginings. This fabrication is so addictive, Mick continues to maintain the identity swap after his return to New Zealand in 1945. He soon develops a love for his neighbour’s wife, forming the emotional crucible of his real-life story.
Can this war hero maintain the fiction of his restricted reality? Will his affair blow his cover and confidence? Mick’s secret obsession is just one of his many aspects explored in this complex character. This clever narrative examines the emotional and psychological roller coaster of war, love, and sex with humor and insight across the backdrop of the world at war.
“I’m no historian, so the book is written as seen through the eyes of Mick’s real-life personality, with hours of collaboration with his niece, diary notes, a few photographs and lots of historical research to match his movements to facts,” explains Nicky. “This is why it took more than two years to write this intriguing story.”
$24.99 plus $5 Postage & packaging in NZ.
International: Buy on Amazon.
Current 5 – STAR Reviews from Amazon & Good Reads.
“Long after you have put the book down, haunting images remain – such is the power and pull of Nicky’s words in ‘No Ordinary Man’. She has a sound grasp of her characters and the storyline of a war that impacted the entire world. What surprised me was the level of compassion and the resolution of this compelling story.” Karen Bowller
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this amazing story. It is incredibly well researched and beautifully written. The characterization is brilliant. No Ordinary Man describes the life and innermost thoughts and emotions of a war hero during his years of military service. Highly recommend. Sonja King
No Ordinary Man had me riveted from cover to cover. An amazing insight into this fascinating man’s life, loves and tragedies. I was disappointed when it finished. Marilyn Rawlinson
Nicky Webber is my new favourite author. She writes in clear and enticing language. No Ordinary Man is the second book of Webber that I read. I was skeptical when my husband handed me the book and recommended that I read it. And so, I started reading about Mick Thompson’s war activities in the Western Desert in North Africa throughout WWII under duress. But my skeptical view of war vanished as the writer Nicky Webber started to unravel Mick’s personal struggle with sexuality, focusing on his secretive alter ego.
Webber’s writing style is excellent, and the issues that she raises challenge conventional thinking about gender, sexuality, and love. Nicky Webber introduces issues of identity, gender fluidity and image of the self in the most intriguing and interesting way. Dr T Reisenberger
Author Nicky Webber has woven an intricate and detailed picture of this extraordinary, multi-faceted man – bullied child, brave and resourceful soldier, skilled cabinet-maker, illicit lover, and estranged father. It is a novel which evokes considerable pathos and it is a story that is gently yet undeniably touching. And astoundingly, it is based on a true story, of a real, World War II New Zealand soldier who was involved in all the events Nicky Webber has meticulously accumulated from “Nina”, the niece who befriended Mick in his later years and to whom he eventually poured out his life-long secret. It’s a quite remarkable story.
Independently Reviewed by Kingsley Field, journalist for Seasons Magazine. Excerpt from full book review on page 41 of July 2019 edition.
Excerpt from Chapter 14
No Ordinary Man
He pulled his trench shovel from his backpack, unfolded and locked the scoop into position and began digging. The tall shadows of the palms camouflaged his secretive activity. The guards would have needed binoculars to see what Mick was up to, so he felt relatively safe to carry on. The soft sand was easy to shift, and he carefully laid each shovel-full to the left side of his shallow hole. He carried on with the occasional grunt, as sweat started to form on his forehead. It was hot work but within minutes he saw the tell-tale edge of the brown paper parcel securely tied with twine. Furtively looking around once more, he quickly reached forward grabbing the package from its shallow grave. Mick relegated the shovel to the desert sand while gingerly pulling the binding string aside, and carefully ripping open a corner of the parcel. He smiled with relief as he saw the red silk fabric and began tugging it out of the torn paper. He held it in his hand for a few seconds, pleased that his secret was safe and in perfect condition after all this time.
He gently pushed the red shiny fabric back into the package and wrapped it up again. Suddenly from behind, he heard the loud booming voice of Sergeant Reginald Pollock, a hardened British soldier, with a large head. ‘A sniper’s delight,’ Miller the Killer had often joked, out of Pollock’s earshot.
‘Hey!’ Pollock shouted, making Mick jump in shock. ‘What the fuck are ya doin’?’
Mick stood up and swung around in a swift fluid movement, sweat clearly visible above his terrified gaze. His arms had clasped the parcel behind his back in a single imperceptible movement.
‘Sir?’ Mick stood to attention, the parcel stuffed into the belt at the back of his army fatigues.
‘Answer me Corporal!’ hissed Pollock.
‘Nuthin much … just a present,’ Mick mumbled.
Sergeant Pollock looked like he’d just been asked to choke down a ball of bullshit, the sharp ruthless edge of his anger tested to breaking point. He thrust his right hand towards his prey. Mick anxiously shifted his feet, terrified, his heart racing, looking like a trapped animal.
‘Give… it … to… me… NOW!’ boomed Pollock with one-second staccato intervals between each word as if his victim was hard of hearing.
Mick stammered, his crimson face flushed as he reluctantly passed the torn package to his tormentor. Pollock snatched the parcel and ripped the hidden fabric from its brown paper. He hesitated momentarily, raising his eyebrows while a slight grin spread across his hardened face. He retrieved his sense of torturous enthusiasm as he began waving the red silk chemise in the air.
‘What the hell is this then?’ shouted Pollock. He wasn’t called Rhino Hide for nothing and his thick skin was only secondary to his limited intelligence.
Mick, sweating, with the familiar sense of humiliation seizing his entire body, responded in a small uncertain voice. ‘A silk chemise, Sir.’
‘A WHAT?’ Pollock was getting more than he bargained for and a lot more than he could logically process.
‘Lingerie, Sir,’ Mick stated in an uneasy explanation.
‘What for?’ Pollock looked completely perplexed.
‘My girlfriend back home, Sir,’ offered Mick.
Both men temporarily paused, a truce in their confrontation. They eyeballed one another, Mick not daring to blink or look away. Will the Sergeant buy his excuse?
Pollock eventually spoke, still angry, but at a volume a few decibels below the original. ‘I didn’t bloody well think it’s for you!’
Mick remained silent, staring straight ahead. His expressionless anxiety set in stone.
‘Why in God’s desert earth would ya bury this?’ demanded his incredulous superior.
Stumped for words, Mick breathed heavily, trying to subdue a rising panic attack. Slowly swallowing he said, ‘I wanted to keep it safe.’
‘Safe from what? Bleeding camels?’ responded Rhino Hide, softening ever so slightly.
‘I couldn’t take it to the trenches, Sarge. I didn’t have time to post it before we went to the front.’
More silence while Rhino Hide absorbed this new information. ‘Get back to barracks and get cleaned up.’
‘Yes Sir!’ Mick didn’t move.
‘Whatta ya wastin’ time for? Git goin’!’ commanded Pollock.
‘Can I have it back, Sir?’ asked Mick thinking he’d won this battle.
‘Buggar off!’ boomed Rhino Hide,’ before I have ya court marshalled!’
Mick stood to attention, saluted, turned and marched off towards the camp gates. Pollock watched Mick retreat across the sand and shoved the red silk chemise inside his tunic front, patting it down before walking after him.