Ex-secret agent shares experiences | NevadaAppeal.com

Ex-secret agent shares experiences

BRIAN DUGGAN
bduggan@nevadaappeal.com

Max Ciampoli’s experience during World War II included walking miles in the middle of a blizzard with a band of gypsies, dodging Nazis by riding underneath a train as it crossed into enemy territory and carrying out secret missions on behalf of Winston Churchill.

Today, now 88 years old, Ciampoli and his wife Linda are telling his story in their recently published book, “Churchill’s Secret Agent” (Berkley/Penguin, $9.99).

They live in Reno and have spent the past few weeks promoting the novela, which is a collection of Ciampoli’s stories. It’s all true, said Linda Ciampoli, except for the last page and a half – the publishers wanted a happy

ending.

The Ciampolis were in Carson City on Tuesday speaking at a Rotary Club lunch at the Carson Nugget, telling the story of a young Max Ciampoli who started his military career in the Alpine Ski Troop in the French Army at 17.

After France fell to Germany, Ciampoli used his family’s political connections and contacted Churchill. The prime minister agreed to have Ciampoli trained as a spy.

“When you’re young you don’t even ask,” Max Ciampoli said of his experience. “You just do it.”

Linda Ciampoli said her husband, who she married in 1991, never told her about his war-time stories until a trip to Europe brought it all back.

She eventually had him write down what he could – and eventually had him dictate it on tape in his native French – and she started to piece together the novel, which published on Dec. 7.

Now, she said they’re in talks with a producer in Los Angeles who is interested in making the novel into a television series.

Ciampoli’s stories detailed in the book include saving thousands of Jewish children by obtaining certificates of baptism from the Vatican as well as helping a woman give birth in the middle of a blizzard.

Linda Ciampoli said her husband was captured during the war and was tortured. She said he always had the option of breaking a cyanide pill in his mouth.

“He said he never even thought about (swallowing it),” she said. “And he was tortured pretty badly and it just didn’t come to him to do that. Those are the kind of men and women we need, out there, protecting us.”

After the war, Ciampoli immigrated to the United States and became a citizen in 1956. He worked as a chef, horse breeder and classic car and yacht dealer.

“I was real lucky all of my life,” Ciampoli said.