Plot to Subvert Wartime New Zealand, The
Paperback, 128 x 210mm
This is a true story of events in New Zealand at the most desperate time of World War II, when Japanese invasion seemed likely, and the outcome of the terrible world struggle between the Allied and Axis powers could have gone either way. At this perilous moment, early in 1942, a prison inmate by the name of Syd Ross completed his sentence and was released from Waikeria Prison, and at once set about building the biggest hoax that New Zealand has ever seen, involving the Prime Minister, and another senior minister as hapless participants along the way.
Syd’s hoax grew and grew, and was about to burst, when he was astonished to find that it had been hijacked by a public figure, with more serious, and worrying, designs in mind. How this extraordinary matter unfolded is the tale at the heart of this book. As the Police Commissioner at the time said: the whole thing was ‘beyond comprehension’.
Praise for The Plot to Subvert Wartime New Zealand
‘Price has delivered up a political thriller backed up by exhaustive documentation … [he] has done an excellent readable investigation of a scenario that would have done Yes Minister proud.’
—Margaret Christenssen, Wairarapa Times-Age
‘Absolutely fascinating story about a wonderfully ridiculous hoax perpetrated during WW2 in NZ – written by legendary Wellington educational publisher, Hugh Price.’
—Kate de Goldi, Good Morning, TV One
‘With its cast of cynical villains, exhausted politicians, furious police and a grandiose Pom, The Plot to Subvert Wartime New Zealand becomes a jolly romp. Along the way, Price sheds serious light on how these warring actors viewed each other.’
—Redmer Yska, New Zealand Books
‘… a riveting little book.’
—North & South
‘… this is one of the most diverting New Zealand stories I’ve read for a long time. New Zealand’s always been a good place for con-men. I expect all of us can think of at least one that we’ve known, and even universities have not been without their candidates. But few get the sleuthing gifts of a Hugh Price to winkle them out. This account of Syd Ross, petty crim and superlative liar, compounded by the story of Major Folkes, one time carpet purveyor in the English midlands, who became head of New Zealand security during World War Two, would make a marvellous movie.’
—Vincent O’Sullivan at the book’s launch in June 2006.