Review: Radio Girl by David Dufty

Title: Radio Girl: The Story of the Extraordinary Mrs Mac, Pioneering Engineer and Wartime Legend

Author: David Dufty

Published: 28th April 2020, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read May 2020, courtesy Allen & Unwin

++++++

My Thoughts:

Radio Girl by David Dufty is, as the tag line says, the story of the extraordinary Mrs Mac, pioneering engineer and wartime legend.

(Florence) Violet McKenzie née Wallace, who later came to be known affectionately to many as Mrs. Mac, was born in Melbourne in 1890, married in 1924, and died in 1982. While her childhood in Austinmeer, south of Sydney, was largely unremarkable she went on to make an outstanding contribution to Australian society over her lifetime.

Radio Girl is a fascinating tribute to an amazing woman who deserves far more recognition than she has ever been given. I was quickly absorbed in the tale of Mrs Mac’s life, inspired by all she achieved, and frankly annoyed that I’ve never heard of her.

Some of Violet’s many accomplishments included becoming Australia’s first woman to earn a diploma in electrical engineering, owning and operating a successful store, the ‘Wireless Shop’, catering to amateur radio enthusiasts, and establishing the Electrical Association for Women.

However Violet’s most significant achievement was her contribution to the war effort. In 1939 Mrs Mac, as she was by then commonly called, created the Women’s Emergency Signalling Corps, ultimately training around 3000 women in Morse code. She became the driving force behind the creation of the Women’s Royal Australian Navy Service in 1941, which employed as many as a third of ‘her girls’ during WWII, and also trained thousands of enlisted and civilian men, from more than half a dozen countries, in signalling.

Suitable for the general reader, as well as those with specific interest in Australian military history or womens history, Dufty’s narrative reads well, it’s detailed without being dry, and informal in tone. Progressing chronologically through Violet’s lifetime, Dufty includes a dozen or so photographs, which I always appreciate. While it is unfortunate though that Violet could not directly contribute to this biography as I‘d be interested in the addition of a more personal perspective, the story of the Radio Girl and her achievements is nevertheless fascinating.

Radio Girl is interesting and informative and I’d like to thank David Dufty for ensuring Mrs Mac, and her admirable accomplishments are recognised in the present day, and recorded for history.

++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Also available from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anne - Books of My Heart
    May 16, 2020 @ 10:25:42

    I’m happy to see this is nonfiction. I struggle a bit with historical fiction, eve based on true events, because I want to know the true story. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Mystica
    May 16, 2020 @ 23:33:55

    I enjoy history and I enjoyed this review. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  4. popple58
    May 20, 2020 @ 09:45:41

    Good review – I really enjoyed it too. A fascinating woman.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Helen Murdoch
    May 21, 2020 @ 03:24:10

    I love books like this that expose us to topics we didn’t know about!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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