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They were American and British air force officers in a German prison camp. With only their bare hands and the crudest of homemade tools, they sank shafts, forged passports, faked weapons, and tailored German uniforms and civilian clothes. They developed a fantastic security system to protect themselves from German surveillance. It was a split-second operation as delicate an They were American and British air force officers in a German prison camp. With only their bare hands and the crudest of homemade tools, they sank shafts, forged passports, faked weapons, and tailored German uniforms and civilian clothes. They developed a fantastic security system to protect themselves from German surveillance. It was a split-second operation as delicate and as deadly as a time bomb. It demanded the concentrated devotion and vigilance of more than six hundred men—every one of them, every minute, every hour, every day and night for more than a year. Made into the classic 1963 war film of the same name starring Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Richard Attenborough.


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They were American and British air force officers in a German prison camp. With only their bare hands and the crudest of homemade tools, they sank shafts, forged passports, faked weapons, and tailored German uniforms and civilian clothes. They developed a fantastic security system to protect themselves from German surveillance. It was a split-second operation as delicate an They were American and British air force officers in a German prison camp. With only their bare hands and the crudest of homemade tools, they sank shafts, forged passports, faked weapons, and tailored German uniforms and civilian clothes. They developed a fantastic security system to protect themselves from German surveillance. It was a split-second operation as delicate and as deadly as a time bomb. It demanded the concentrated devotion and vigilance of more than six hundred men—every one of them, every minute, every hour, every day and night for more than a year. Made into the classic 1963 war film of the same name starring Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Richard Attenborough.

30 review for The Great Escape

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Written by one of the men who assisted in what is known as the Great Escape, Paul Brickhill's book on the experiences of WWII POWs is tense and at times exhilarating. The detail of the escapes from German prison camps is full of descriptive information that should satisfy the curious. His determination to ferret out the stories of escapees after they left the camps would do any journalist proud. In The Great Escape you feel as if you've received about as full of an account of this famous event a Written by one of the men who assisted in what is known as the Great Escape, Paul Brickhill's book on the experiences of WWII POWs is tense and at times exhilarating. The detail of the escapes from German prison camps is full of descriptive information that should satisfy the curious. His determination to ferret out the stories of escapees after they left the camps would do any journalist proud. In The Great Escape you feel as if you've received about as full of an account of this famous event as you'll likely ever receive.

  2. 5 out of 5

    W

    The book was based on a true story of escaping prisoners of war from a German camp,during WW II.The film deviates somewhat from the book. Still,very good entertainment and a memorable ending.Star studded cast headed by Steve McQueen and James Garner,among others.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    There is something about the movie The Great Escape. It's more than just Steve McQueen and James Gardner. More than the fact that as you watch the movie, you go, "Look, it's James Coburn. Look, it's Charles Bronson! Look, it's David McCallum! Look, it's Hudson! Look, it's Attenborough. No, the other one!". It's more than that. The Great Escape is one of those that you can't help but watch. You might have seen two days ago, but hey, it's on again, and who doesn't like that motorcycle scene. I've There is something about the movie The Great Escape. It's more than just Steve McQueen and James Gardner. More than the fact that as you watch the movie, you go, "Look, it's James Coburn. Look, it's Charles Bronson! Look, it's David McCallum! Look, it's Hudson! Look, it's Attenborough. No, the other one!". It's more than that. The Great Escape is one of those that you can't help but watch. You might have seen two days ago, but hey, it's on again, and who doesn't like that motorcycle scene. I've even watched it when it's been shown with commericals. It's like Lawrence of Arabia, except with Lawrence, I know why I watch. OMAR!!!!! Young OMAR!!! When he rides up to the well. Sigh. I love that man in black. Where was I? The Great Escape, right. Maybe, it's because the director was smart enough to not have Hilts be one of the prisoners (only three) who escaped. There is something far more heroic about that. I finally broke down and brought the movie on DVD, getting this book along with it. I was somewhat worried that the book wouldn't be as good as the movie. I was wrong. The book was as good as the movie. I finally found out where that scar on Big X came from. It is amazing how much of the movie is really, truly based on the book. True, some liberties are taken, such as the Americans and how the fifty are dealt with (both of which are understandable). But still. All the tunnel stories, even the ones that didn't work, are true. It's amazing. (I know, I've used that word too many times). Like the one about the mole tunnel, that was true. What is even more interesting is what some of the recaptured prisoners had to put up with afterwards. Poor Wings Day. I don't know how he and the other five stood with happened to them. My only negative comment applies to this edition. A list of people in the begining, like a character list, would've been helpful. There are plenty of people and a copy times, I had to flip back to make sure I had people straight. Yet despite this, the book is a testimony to man's ingeunity and resilance. It illustrates what goes on at many different levels of command and how determined people can get something amazing done.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    I remember watching the movie version, so as I started reading the book I had an outline of what would happen. image: The first Book versus Movie Law states that; The Book is always better than the Movie. And "The Great Escape" proved the Law right. image: Here I was told all the details for all the preparation that went on long before the first POW came out of the tunnel. First published in 1950 memories of the war must have been fresh in the author's mind. He describes everyone as what they did a I remember watching the movie version, so as I started reading the book I had an outline of what would happen. image: The first Book versus Movie Law states that; The Book is always better than the Movie. And "The Great Escape" proved the Law right. image: Here I was told all the details for all the preparation that went on long before the first POW came out of the tunnel. First published in 1950 memories of the war must have been fresh in the author's mind. He describes everyone as what they did and did not fall prey to sweeping cultural stereotypes. All the scenes are told from his viewpoint and that of the POWs. image: I don't usually like historical war books, but "The Great Escape" was brilliant! Enjoy!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Fred Shaw

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill. My copy was a Blackstone audio book and the narrator was excellent. This is a true story taking place in a POW camp near Berlin in WW II. There were 10000 + prisoners held at Stalag 3, all officers from US, Poland, UK, Australia, Russia, France and others, in 1944, and a master plan to escape was implemented. There had been many other attempts before, but this one worked. About 100 escaped before the plot was discovered. Hitler was irate and ordered the execut The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill. My copy was a Blackstone audio book and the narrator was excellent. This is a true story taking place in a POW camp near Berlin in WW II. There were 10000 + prisoners held at Stalag 3, all officers from US, Poland, UK, Australia, Russia, France and others, in 1944, and a master plan to escape was implemented. There had been many other attempts before, but this one worked. About 100 escaped before the plot was discovered. Hitler was irate and ordered the execution of half or 50 of the escapees. This of course was against the Geneva Convention as to the treatment of POW’s. The author was a prisoner there and wrote from first hand knowledge. The writing was very detailed in the step by step process of digging the tunnels, creation of forged documents, false uniforms, etc., which took away from the overall significance of what they did and why they did it. The primary purpose of the escape was the ensuing manhunt which took thousands of German resources away from the war effort. Secondly it was the duty of every officer to continue to attempt escape regardless of the consequences. And third, they all wanted the chance to go home. There was a movie made years ago. Hollywood took a lot of liberties and not much about the movie was accurate.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Executive Summary: The rare case where I probably like the movie better than the book. It's a fascinating tale, but I found parts of it rather slow. 3.5 Stars. Audiobook: Robert Whitfield does a good job with this. Nonfiction can be a challenge, because if the subject matter isn't very good, an audio book can sound more like a lecture. Even during the parts of this book I found slow, I felt that Mr. Whitfield did a good job. Full Review I've been on a bit of a "classic" movie kick the last year Executive Summary: The rare case where I probably like the movie better than the book. It's a fascinating tale, but I found parts of it rather slow. 3.5 Stars. Audiobook: Robert Whitfield does a good job with this. Nonfiction can be a challenge, because if the subject matter isn't very good, an audio book can sound more like a lecture. Even during the parts of this book I found slow, I felt that Mr. Whitfield did a good job. Full Review I've been on a bit of a "classic" movie kick the last year or two, so I only just watched The Great Escape recently. I snagged this because of a sale after enjoying the movie, because the book is almost always better than the movie. This however, was a rare case when it wasn't. I suspect that won't be true for everyone. I like history, but it's not a subject I read about much. I tend to prefer documentaries or dramatizations instead. The story in this book, about an elaborate plan to build not one but three tunnels to escape a German camp during World War Two sounds so incredible that it just screams movie plot. I found the early going with a lot of the background information rather dry and slow. I imagine history buffs will find that more interesting than I did. I tend to forget names just as soon as I learn them however. Once the meat of the plan got going, I found it quite a fascinating read. It's by no means a long book. Running around 7.5 hours. The movie is nearly 3. For me personally, I think the movie did a better job in showing the best parts, and cutting out some of the less interesting ones. Your mileage may vary. Either way I'm glad I read the story, but I'd probably recommend renting the movie instead.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    This is nonfiction and truly a classic. It was a great read. It was about a prisoner of war camp during WWII. The prisoners all worked together on an elaborate escape scheme. They all knew that not everyone would be able to make the break, but they contributed to the effort the best they could. If this had been fiction, I think the whole experience would have been fleshed out a little more. But the simple fact that this is nonfiction, makes this even more awe inspiring.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Paul Riches

    A story enthralled me so much when I was a child, it stays with me to this day. It was an adventure, a tragedy, a drama, a history lesson, and an inspirational tale. And it is all true. On March 24, 1944, The Great Escape happened in the midst of World War II. The Nazis had captured various British and Commonwealth Airmen over the course of the war, and they had built an "escape proof" Prisoner of War camp to house the most troublesome of the lot. Stalag Luft III was thought to be the answer to t A story enthralled me so much when I was a child, it stays with me to this day. It was an adventure, a tragedy, a drama, a history lesson, and an inspirational tale. And it is all true. On March 24, 1944, The Great Escape happened in the midst of World War II. The Nazis had captured various British and Commonwealth Airmen over the course of the war, and they had built an "escape proof" Prisoner of War camp to house the most troublesome of the lot. Stalag Luft III was thought to be the answer to these constant, pesky, breaks for freedom. But it did not work out that way. The prisoners banded together and committed the largest break-out ever. And then chaos happened. Paul Brickhill was an Australian prisoner in the camp and participated in the planning. Years after the war, he wrote The Great Escape, chronicling how the deed was performed, and the troubling aftermath. While he is not a renowned wordsmith or have an elegant style, he tells the journey very authentically with much research on even the most minute of details. The sheer volume of topics Brickhill must cover to accurately convey the time and place and thinking is mind-blowing. Brickhill wrote other books about the war (The Dam Busters is another classic) and had a long career as a journalist. He passed away in 1991 at 74 years of age. The book was an instant hit and several years later spawned a massive hollywood film in 1963. While purists take issue the liberties taken with the actual facts, the more realistic parts of the movie still bring chills to historians. The inclusion of Americans in the escape is still a sore point, and Steve McQueen's character is a major irritant. Don't ask devotees about the infamous motorcycle chase, it was painful and awful. But I still have it on dvd and the extras are fabulous. What Brickhill captures so well, and the movie tries somewhat to, is the real story. Stalag Luft III was the place to put these malcontents. And the lead one was Roger Bushell, the genius mastermind behind every aspect of the plan, Big X in the organization. Bushell engineered the social network of the camp towards the one everlasting goal, the mass escape of hundreds of POWs. Teams were assembled, lookouts assigned, systems devised, and scams developed in order to obtain freedom. Passports and identity papers were forged by artists. Makeshift tools were manufactured to dig the tunnels, with the airpump alone being undeniable genius. The trick of getting rid of the tons of excess sands from the tunnels alone necessitated the invention of the famous "trouser bags". Bushell complicated things even more by having three tunnels under construction simultaneously. This was astonishingly difficult to pull off, since escapes were always one tunnel with four men getting out. The tunnels, codenamed Tom, Dick and Harry, were excavated during the year it took to plan The Great Escape. Unfortunately, Tom was discovered by the guards, which cast a gloom over the men for awhile. Finally The Great Escape happened. Everything was ready and the chance of another setback was ever present. The last machination to cause problems was a miscalculation of the tree line. Harry fell short by quite a distance. The plan went ahead but they were discovered partway through. At this point, Hitler becomes directly involved. He was angry beyond words at the POWs actions and decided to retaliate. He ordered all the escapees to be executed. Some aides calmed him down and the order was changed. A massive manhunt through Fortress Europe was enacted. Bushell never planned to get even a handful of Airmen home, it was mostly a contribution to the war effort by tying up valuable resources searching for them. Bushell did not know that D-Day was only months away, heralding the end of the war. Maybe his effort helped to distract them. I certainly think so. But the order was still present. And the men were gradually being caught. Only about eighty men got out of the tunnel that night. Three managed to reclaim their freedom. Fifty were executed. Selected specifically, the men were driven into the countryside and shot. Bushell was among them. The next of kin were told they tried escaping again. No one believed them. The other POWs who were recaptured were sent to other camps, never knowing the fate of the fifty till after the war. One of the more notorious POWs was known as the Artful Dodger, having multiple escapes under his belt. He was placed in charge of the manhunt for the assassins, and over time, found them all. Many officers involved were found guilty and executed at the Nuremberg Trials. The darkness at the finale of the book showing us these events are only matched for me by The Diary of Anne Frank. Very unsettling. This was depicted very well in The Great Escape Part 2, a 1988 TV miniseries starring Christopher Reeve. This story has always brought out an interesting moral dilemma inside me. I have always been against capital punishment. I am immensely happy Canada outlawed it decades ago. The concept that the government would kill a citizen, even one who had committed a heinous crime, struck me as a massive overreach of their powers. What if they were wrong? All parts of it disturbed me. But the fifty are executed. Millions more died in World War II. Anne Frank was killed. This part of me against capital punishment would fall to the wayside, wanting justice for all these deaths, all this tragedy. No reason, no logic, nothing could have been given for this barbaric behavior. I read The Great Escape for the first time when I was ten and it was my initial exposure to the Holocaust. It may have only been fifty murdered, compared to the millions over the course of the war, but it was people I "knew." Someone had to pay. To this day, The Great Escape still reminds me of this moral conundrum. Many stories are meant to disturb, and the ending to this one does still. My feelings about this upheaval were crystallized even more by the thought-provoking 1961 movie Judgement at Nuremberg, starring Spencer Tracy. You will learn alot about yourself by watching this classic. History that will make you think. The adventure and the galvanizing journey these men endure is inspiring. Their remedies to numerous obstacles will uplift you. The historical minutia will fascinate you. And the deaths of the fifty will resonate with you. To The Fifty Scoopriches P.S. The Great Escape was written by Paul Brickhill and is 265 pages in Hardcover. It was published in 1951 by Faber and Faber Limited. All images copyright Faber and Faber Limited 2011. P.P.S. The Great Escape movie was released in 1963 and starred Steve McQueen and James Garner. To Read More Reviews, Check out my blog: https://scoopsmentalpropaganda.wordpress... Thank You.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I got the audio because it was the daily deal at Audible and I like the narrator, Simon Vance. Plus, I enjoyed the film version. However, I got distracted and didn't finish listening. It started off with a rambling gloss-over accounting of other prison escapes. True story behind the WWII movie. Narrated by Simon Vance, under the stage name Robert Whitfield. From Wikipedia: "The Great Escape is an insider's account written by Australian Paul Brickhill of the 1944 mass escape from the German prisone I got the audio because it was the daily deal at Audible and I like the narrator, Simon Vance. Plus, I enjoyed the film version. However, I got distracted and didn't finish listening. It started off with a rambling gloss-over accounting of other prison escapes. True story behind the WWII movie. Narrated by Simon Vance, under the stage name Robert Whitfield. From Wikipedia: "The Great Escape is an insider's account written by Australian Paul Brickhill of the 1944 mass escape from the German prisoner of war camp Stalag Luft III for British and Commonwealth airmen. As a prisoner in the camp, he participated in the escape plan but was debarred from the actual escape 'along with three or four others on grounds of claustrophobia'.[1] The introduction to the book is written by George Harsh, an American POW at Stalag Luft III. This book was made into the 1963 film The Great Escape.... Much of the book is focused on Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Roger Bushell, also known as "Big X", including his capture, early escape attempts, and planning of the escape. All the major participants and their exploits are described by Brickhill. Among these are Tim Walenn, the principal forger, who 'gave his factory the code name of "Dean and Dawson", after a British travel agency';[2] Al Hake, the compass maker;[3] Des Plunkett, the ingenious chief map tracer, who made a mimeograph for reproducing maps;[4] and Tommy Guest, who ran a team of tailors.[5] Major John Dodge, who was related by marriage to Winston Churchill, was one of the escapees. The German officers and guards (called 'goons' by the prisoners) included teams of 'ferrets' who crawled about under the huts looking for signs of tunnels. They were carefully watched by teams of POW 'stooges', one of whom was Paul Brickhill, 'boss of a gang of "stooges" guarding the forgers'.[6] (view spoiler)[In the end, seventy-six men escaped. Seventy-three were recaptured and fifty of those were shot by the Gestapo. Four of the remaining twenty-three later tunnelled out of Sachsenhausen, but were recaptured and chained to the floor of their cells.[7] One of them, Major John Dodge, was released to secure a cease-fire.[8] The book is dedicated "to the fifty". In the aftermath of the escape, according to Brickhill, 5,000,000 Germans spent time looking for the prisoners, many of them full-time for weeks.[9] (hide spoiler)]

  10. 5 out of 5

    J.I.

    The movie based on this book is surprisingly accurate, I must say. Sure it skews the timeline, simplifies the characters and gives the Americans the glory they, unfortunately, were denied, but still, it's quite good. Oh, the review of this book. In just over two hundred pages, Brickhill manages to tell both an engaging, quick paced tale of escape and to also linger for a decent bit on the people who moved the tale forward, on the ways they planned and schemed, how they made compasses and forged p The movie based on this book is surprisingly accurate, I must say. Sure it skews the timeline, simplifies the characters and gives the Americans the glory they, unfortunately, were denied, but still, it's quite good. Oh, the review of this book. In just over two hundred pages, Brickhill manages to tell both an engaging, quick paced tale of escape and to also linger for a decent bit on the people who moved the tale forward, on the ways they planned and schemed, how they made compasses and forged passes, how they tailored clothes and set up the escape hatches. He nails the agony of waiting and the excitement of escape as well as the depression of getting caught. I'll admit the book is far from perfect and the prose is often perfunctory, but the pace is dead on and the story remains both reverent and faithful with minimal authorial intrusions. This book I highly, highly recommend.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dhiraj Sharma

    Its difficult to believe that its not a work of fiction. The book explains in great detail the painstaking efforts taken by the POWs to escape from Stalag Luft-III. Don't expect Steve McQueen motorcycle chases and James Garner style flybys. Hollywood changed the story to make it more flamboyant in the 60's film version of the book. But the real story is here, excellently written by Paul Brickhill who himself was a prisoner at the camp. You almost wish all the POWs could have escaped. The book al Its difficult to believe that its not a work of fiction. The book explains in great detail the painstaking efforts taken by the POWs to escape from Stalag Luft-III. Don't expect Steve McQueen motorcycle chases and James Garner style flybys. Hollywood changed the story to make it more flamboyant in the 60's film version of the book. But the real story is here, excellently written by Paul Brickhill who himself was a prisoner at the camp. You almost wish all the POWs could have escaped. The book also covers the efforts put by RAF to track down the Nazis who murdered the 50 captured POWs as a reprisal measure, something the movie did not cover. The heroism of the POWs can be gauged by the fact that even when the escape failed and many were caught, they started digging another tunnel. Great Story, unputdownable.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    Seeing the movie over 20 times and realizing that many in the film were composites of the actual characters, there still some close similarities, especially to Roger Bartlett/Bushnell "Big X". This book was written by a prisoner who was there. With that the book truly portrays the true harsh realities of a prison camp life, that is not portrayed in the film. From starvation, to cold, fear, etc. What these men endured and were able to accomplish was a miracle in and of itself. I bow my head to th Seeing the movie over 20 times and realizing that many in the film were composites of the actual characters, there still some close similarities, especially to Roger Bartlett/Bushnell "Big X". This book was written by a prisoner who was there. With that the book truly portrays the true harsh realities of a prison camp life, that is not portrayed in the film. From starvation, to cold, fear, etc. What these men endured and were able to accomplish was a miracle in and of itself. I bow my head to the fifty. If you are interested in WWII, or history, read it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brian Poole

    The Great Escape is an interesting artifact of the World War II era. You’re probably at least glancingly familiar with this real life account, originally published in the early ‘50s. Author Paul Brickhill, an Australian airman, spent a few years in a German prisoner of war camp, where he abetted one of the most famous prisoner escapes of the war. The Great Escape picks up its story in 1943, when a large number of international POWs (including many Brits and Americans) were ensconced in a new Germa The Great Escape is an interesting artifact of the World War II era. You’re probably at least glancingly familiar with this real life account, originally published in the early ‘50s. Author Paul Brickhill, an Australian airman, spent a few years in a German prisoner of war camp, where he abetted one of the most famous prisoner escapes of the war. The Great Escape picks up its story in 1943, when a large number of international POWs (including many Brits and Americans) were ensconced in a new German POW camp near the Polish border. One of the interesting facts that The Great Escape establishes early on was that escaping a German POW camp wasn’t especially uncommon. Many POWs managed, some multiple times, via a wide array of methods (tunneling, sneaking out in a truck, cutting through a wire). The problem wasn’t necessarily escaping a prison. It was getting across a friendly border or stowing away on a ship headed out of Axis territory. Lots of prisoners got out of the camps. Many of them were recaptured and sent back. The Great Escape details a sprawling project to effect a mass breakout from a prison camp in Sagan, Germany, in the latter years of the war. Quarterbacked by Roger Bushell, a charismatic barrister with several previous escapes to his credit, “Project X” involved the construction of three separate tunnels, a meticulous operation to produce counterfeit documents, a mapmaking effort, a garment sweatshop and numerous other activities designed to not only escape the camp, but to improve the escapees’ chances of actually getting out of Nazi-controlled territory. The engineering feat involved in constructing these tunnels was impressive. The project dug down deeply enough to avoid the numerous methods the Germans had devised to detect tunnels closer to the surface. How the prisoners figured out the logistics and then scavenged the materials needed to dig and reinforce a lengthy tunnel demonstrates a lot of inspired genius. The Great Escape details numerous practical elements, like how to conceal a tunnel entrance or the elaborate methods devised to disperse the sandy soil displaced from digging. The methods the prisoners improvised to carry out tasks such as printing, manipulating fabric or crafting compasses are astounding in their creativity. A significant part of The Great Escape is the fraught relationship between the prisoners and the camp guards. A few emerged as nasty, ruthless bastards (nicknamed “ferrets”) who dehumanized the prisoners in various ways. But many of the guards (and the camp’s commandant) showed surprising sympathy for the prisoners. These guards may have been Germans, forced by circumstances into their posts, but they weren’t Nazi supporters and often formed strong attachments to their charges. How the prisoners leveraged those connections to wheedle or barter for supplies, document examples, money, information and other necessaries for the escape effort are fascinating. Brickhill chronicles the ups and downs of Project X. There were numerous setbacks and near misses, where guards nearly discovered various aspects of the operation (which, at its peak, involved hundreds of the camp’s internees). One of the three tunnels was discovered; seeing how the prisoners dealt with that setback and refocused their efforts communicated the determination and level-headedness necessary to pull off such an audacious stunt. Ultimately, only 76 prisoners escaped through the completed tunnel, barely a third of the total number intended. Brickhill’s account of the actual escape is one of the book’s high points, tense and suspenseful. The fates of most of the escapees don’t exactly amount to a happy ending. The final chapter focuses on post-war efforts to get justice for escapees victimized by the Nazis in violation of the Geneva Convention. Brickhill was an able narrator. He had an eye for detail and packed them into his account, sometimes to his detriment. The ingenuity of the prisoners and their inventions is fascinating, but the level of detail can occasionally become distracting. Brickhill had a tendency to wander off into those nitty-gritty technical accounts. The frequent use of slang can be an impediment. And one can only assume that the retention of numerous spelling and grammar errors so many decades after initial publication is a deliberate stylistic choice. But even with those occasional drags, the story Brickhill unfolded was compelling and absorbing, providing a glimpse into a world that most readers thankfully will never experience firsthand. Because of the large cast of characters involved, very few of them get enough time in the spotlight to make a lasting impression. Bushell emerges the most clearly. Brickhill did a nice job of capturing the dynamism and magnetism that were necessary to inspire hundreds of prisoners to pitch in on an effort that ultimately didn’t benefit most of them directly. Brickhill made a convincing case, though, that escapes were the prisoners’ contribution to the fighting. That diverting significant German resources to chasing and recapturing the escapees was as important as any of them actually making their way to freedom. He managed to elicit enough details about the other prisoners to help readers understand the mindset underlying the operation. At its best, The Great Escape provides a firsthand glimpse into a fascinating chapter of WW II that’s captured imaginations for decades. For history fans, it’s definitely worth reading, but the story of this colorful, real life caper can hold the interest of most readers. A version of this review originally appeared on www.thunderalleybcp.com

  14. 4 out of 5

    Zedsdead

    The cheeky, adventuresome true story of a mass Allied escape from a German POW camp in WW2. And its despicable, murderous aftermath. (Some spoilers ahead, but you probably know more or less how this story ends. It's like the Titanic, almost impossible to come in blind.) A staggering amount of expertise went into these escapes; it was not just a matter of cleverness and big brass balls. The men brought to bear expertise in engineering, machining, carpentry, materials science, artistry, tailoring, The cheeky, adventuresome true story of a mass Allied escape from a German POW camp in WW2. And its despicable, murderous aftermath. (Some spoilers ahead, but you probably know more or less how this story ends. It's like the Titanic, almost impossible to come in blind.) A staggering amount of expertise went into these escapes; it was not just a matter of cleverness and big brass balls. The men brought to bear expertise in engineering, machining, carpentry, materials science, artistry, tailoring, espionage, scavenging, acting, and yes, ingenuity, determination, and the biggest of brass balls. Despite the genuinely awful circumstances--years spent with Nazi captors, slow starvation, general deprivation--the bulk of the book reads like a grand adventure. The men organize, plan, outwit their Nazi administrators over and over, and construct a tunnel longer than a football field. They manufacture false documents, costumes, identities, and travel rations. They pivot brilliantly when things go wrong, they persevere when all looks lost. It's a jaunty read. Optimistic. Until we get to the escape itself, which is harrowing to read. The aftermath is sickening. The procedural nature of the epilogue is fascinating, but grim. Hard to believe this is all more or less true. That elevates the experience of reading it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca L

    I picked this book up at a yard sale a few years ago and thought "Wow I didn't even know there was a book" I'd always seen the movie and just assumed there was no book about the true event. I've always liked the movie since I saw it when I was about ten I think but as soon as I picked this book up and started reading I knew I was going to like it much better and was not mistaken. I still think the movie is great but this book tells the story of the prisoners at Stalag Luft III so much better as I picked this book up at a yard sale a few years ago and thought "Wow I didn't even know there was a book" I'd always seen the movie and just assumed there was no book about the true event. I've always liked the movie since I saw it when I was about ten I think but as soon as I picked this book up and started reading I knew I was going to like it much better and was not mistaken. I still think the movie is great but this book tells the story of the prisoners at Stalag Luft III so much better as it is written by one of the few men who managed to truly get away and come home. So moving, so exciting and so sad this book will always remain one of my favorites about what people can and will do when pushed to the extreme of their patience and stand a great memorial to the men of Stalag Luft III who made history on that cold day so long ago.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Trawets

    The Great Escape was written some years before the film of the same name was released. The author Paul Bricknell was an inmate Stalag Luft III and helped with the famous break-out by 76 RAF prisoners of war. As is well known of the 76 escapees 3 made it home to England, 23 were recaptured and infamously 50 were murdered, most shot at the sides of roads after capture and interrogation by the Gestapo on the orders of Adolf Hitler. Paul Bricknell gives a wonderfully detailed account of all the work t The Great Escape was written some years before the film of the same name was released. The author Paul Bricknell was an inmate Stalag Luft III and helped with the famous break-out by 76 RAF prisoners of war. As is well known of the 76 escapees 3 made it home to England, 23 were recaptured and infamously 50 were murdered, most shot at the sides of roads after capture and interrogation by the Gestapo on the orders of Adolf Hitler. Paul Bricknell gives a wonderfully detailed account of all the work that went into the escape, not only the tunnelling, but also the manufacture of clothes, papers, compasses, maps, and rations. Considering his personal involvement and the short span of time from the events Paul Bricknell is very even handed when describing the actions of the German's both in the prison camp and in the wider community. The book ends with the post-war investigation of the murders and the fate of those responsible. An interesting and enjoyable read, not spoilt by having seen the film based upon it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    These men were so ingenious, and their spirit and bravery were fantastic. The devices and systems they put in place, using only the most unpromising raw materials, were staggering. Perhaps most impressive was their ability to organise even in the face of overwhelming difficulties, and thus to make use of every ounce of potential available to them - whether in Klim tins or in the men themselves. At the same time, the reader shares the sad wish of those left behind that they hadn't bothered, had s These men were so ingenious, and their spirit and bravery were fantastic. The devices and systems they put in place, using only the most unpromising raw materials, were staggering. Perhaps most impressive was their ability to organise even in the face of overwhelming difficulties, and thus to make use of every ounce of potential available to them - whether in Klim tins or in the men themselves. At the same time, the reader shares the sad wish of those left behind that they hadn't bothered, had stayed inside and played cards and slept on mattresses that were actually held up. I can't imagine how today's youth would function if in the same situation. We would probably all sit around moaning about how much we missed Facebook, how the uniforms made our bums look big, and how it was all soooooooo unfair.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Glenna

    I have grown up with the film and have always admired the bravery of these men who did their best to help win the war even though they were behind enemy lines. There were so many involved that until I was able to get further in the book it was difficult to keep people separated. But I think that is part of the appeal as well. This was an organization so well put together that most of the people in the camp were part of it in one way or another and yet they could never be completely discovered. T I have grown up with the film and have always admired the bravery of these men who did their best to help win the war even though they were behind enemy lines. There were so many involved that until I was able to get further in the book it was difficult to keep people separated. But I think that is part of the appeal as well. This was an organization so well put together that most of the people in the camp were part of it in one way or another and yet they could never be completely discovered. The writing centered largely on the higher ups in the "X" organization, of course, and was largely similar to someone relating a story at dinner or in someone's living room. It was a quick read and even light-hearted in spots. Whether you have seen the movie or not, I highly recommend the book. May we never forget the fifty.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Liam

    This is an absolutely fascinating story! Told by someone who was on the inside, this is the story of how Allied prisoners of war planned and implemented a massive escape (if my memory is right, the most massive POW escape in history) from a Nazi controlled German prison camp. Excellent! See the film review here: https://boxd.it/ZeWa1 This is an absolutely fascinating story! Told by someone who was on the inside, this is the story of how Allied prisoners of war planned and implemented a massive escape (if my memory is right, the most massive POW escape in history) from a Nazi controlled German prison camp. Excellent! See the film review here: https://boxd.it/ZeWa1

  20. 4 out of 5

    Steve Shilstone

    Incredible. The skills. The detail. The inventiveness. The doggedness. The secrecy. The patience. The thoroughness. The setbacks.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    The movie adaptation of this book does a great job capturing the spirit, adventure and grim reality of what these men lived through. The book does provide more detail.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Thom

    Well written and thrilling, this tells the true story of prisoners in Stalag Luft III and their 100th attempt to escape. Photos, drawings, maps, the related Hitler decrees and the post war trials are also included. I finished this book on January 27th, UN Holocaust Remembrance day. While this book mostly glosses over the very difficult parts of prison life (I found myself picturing Hogan's Heroes too often), the details of the escape read like a thriller. It is also fairly short, and worth readin Well written and thrilling, this tells the true story of prisoners in Stalag Luft III and their 100th attempt to escape. Photos, drawings, maps, the related Hitler decrees and the post war trials are also included. I finished this book on January 27th, UN Holocaust Remembrance day. While this book mostly glosses over the very difficult parts of prison life (I found myself picturing Hogan's Heroes too often), the details of the escape read like a thriller. It is also fairly short, and worth reading. It references some of the other escape attempts detailed elsewhere, such as the Wooden Horse. I can see why this tale was made into a movie. Speaking of that, I haven't seen it, but am looking forward to it. I have also found out there is a miniseries with Christopher Reeve from 1988 titled The Great Escape Part II, covering the trial in more detail. Even The Wooden Horse was made into a film - and I've seen none of them (yet). On the night of the escape, eighty men managed to get through the tunnel and outside the camp, each taking separate routes. Three reached the allies and freedom. Fifty were executed by the Gestapo. This book is dedicated to them.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Reet Champion

    A gripping bittersweet tale of camaraderie in a World War II prisoner-of-war camp, "The Great Escape" is a story not to be missed. The book itself is written by one of the men (Paul Brickhill) who took part in the escape operations. Brickhill introduces the readers to a number of other men of Luft Stalag III, captors and prisoners. His recounting of dialogue between prisoners is often crude, but the story is nonetheless stirring. Brickhill makes you feel like you're "one of the guys". Under the n A gripping bittersweet tale of camaraderie in a World War II prisoner-of-war camp, "The Great Escape" is a story not to be missed. The book itself is written by one of the men (Paul Brickhill) who took part in the escape operations. Brickhill introduces the readers to a number of other men of Luft Stalag III, captors and prisoners. His recounting of dialogue between prisoners is often crude, but the story is nonetheless stirring. Brickhill makes you feel like you're "one of the guys". Under the noses of the Germans POWs planned a mass escape which was months in the making. Tunnels were dug (one was discovered before the eventual escape). Clothes, compasses, maps and other things necessary for the escapee were manufactured. There was a ton of digging to do and the matter of dispersing the dirt was a tricky matter. But the prisoners were full of surprises and their ingenuity amazing (this story reminds me of the TV series "Hogan's Heroes"). When the escape finally took place 76 got away. More would have joined them but the tunnel was accidentally discovered by a guard, putting an end to further escape. In the end 15 men returned to the POW camp, 8 went to concentration camps, 3 made it to freedom and...50 were recaptured and executed. Those left behind didn't give up. Another tunnels was dug in case the losing Nazi regime decided to kill the prisoners. One night in 1945 the prisoners were marched away (Brickhill among them) as the Nazi's enemies closed in. Some died along the way while the others were eventually liberated. Come along for the ride as you share the laughter, sorrow and torment with these brave souls.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Blair Hodgkinson

    This novel, based on the story of a mass escape by Allied soldiers from a German POW camp during WW II, will be familiar by title as it was the basis for a popular film starring Steve McQueen and James Garner among others. Brickhill unfolds the story with speed, quickly familiarizing readers with the lives of POWs and letting the reader in on their secret plans to escape. Without getting into details, I'll just say that Brickhill's account shows just how resourceful people can be under adversity This novel, based on the story of a mass escape by Allied soldiers from a German POW camp during WW II, will be familiar by title as it was the basis for a popular film starring Steve McQueen and James Garner among others. Brickhill unfolds the story with speed, quickly familiarizing readers with the lives of POWs and letting the reader in on their secret plans to escape. Without getting into details, I'll just say that Brickhill's account shows just how resourceful people can be under adversity, straining their physical and intellectual resources to the limit to achieve nearly unbelievable results. That alone is almost sufficient reason to read this novel, but it's also bursting with humour and suspense that make the reading of it a delight. If you've seen the movie, this will all be pretty familiar, as the film follows the material fairly closely, but the novel does add some interesting detail on just how some of the amazing efforts were planned and undertaken. If you haven't seen the movie, you should read this... and then see the movie. Both book and film are excellent.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Most every man of my generation who grew up in the US knows the story, thanks to the excellent movie of the same title. Compared to the book, which seems very truthful, the movie takes a few liberties; the book says nothing about a thrilling chase of an escaped prisoner on a motorcycle, for instance. The book is dry compared to a well-written novel, but everything in the book actually happened. The amazing ingenuity of the prisoners' escape preparations is the centerpiece of the story; the escap Most every man of my generation who grew up in the US knows the story, thanks to the excellent movie of the same title. Compared to the book, which seems very truthful, the movie takes a few liberties; the book says nothing about a thrilling chase of an escaped prisoner on a motorcycle, for instance. The book is dry compared to a well-written novel, but everything in the book actually happened. The amazing ingenuity of the prisoners' escape preparations is the centerpiece of the story; the escape itself seems anticlimactic. There's an interesting section about how the Nazis responsible for murdering fifty of the recaptured prisoners were tracked down and caught after the war, despite the lack of help from the Soviets.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    This book was really interesting. There were times when it could have been written better, and I found it hard to figure out who was who at the beginning, but it got better later. The story was well told, and it was a cool one at that. Although it was less about characters and more about plot, I was still sad when (view spoiler)[ the escapees were shot, especially Bushell (hide spoiler)] . The drawings helped me understand well, although the way it was written gave me a good image in my head. I h This book was really interesting. There were times when it could have been written better, and I found it hard to figure out who was who at the beginning, but it got better later. The story was well told, and it was a cool one at that. Although it was less about characters and more about plot, I was still sad when (view spoiler)[ the escapees were shot, especially Bushell (hide spoiler)] . The drawings helped me understand well, although the way it was written gave me a good image in my head. I have started watching the movie, and my mental image is pretty similar(although the book is way better). I wish this was a series so I could read the next book. UPDATE: 1)This book is great(this review doesn't really show it) 2)The movie is great, although it is not extremely accurate to the book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lee Ann

    Wow! What an incredible story. This fills out the gaps in the movie. The escape parts were great but there's not enough personal info. It was hard to keep the actors straight. There's not enough detail on most of them to make them exist as individuals. PB was better on the mechanics of the escape itself. They tunneled through almost 200 feet of sand, shored up the tunnel with scrap from the huts, survived cave-ins, hid tons of sand, and ran a professional forgery ring. Jaw-dropping. There was al Wow! What an incredible story. This fills out the gaps in the movie. The escape parts were great but there's not enough personal info. It was hard to keep the actors straight. There's not enough detail on most of them to make them exist as individuals. PB was better on the mechanics of the escape itself. They tunneled through almost 200 feet of sand, shored up the tunnel with scrap from the huts, survived cave-ins, hid tons of sand, and ran a professional forgery ring. Jaw-dropping. There was also a wild part at the end detailing how the Germans who killed the escapees were tracked down. This is a must for anyone into the war, the movie or escapes.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I've seen The Great Escape many times and it remains one of my favorite war movies of all time. This book, written by one of the POW's in Stalag Luft III who participated in the events, is the story on which the movie is based. It goes into more detail than the movie did about the ingenious ways that the prisoners were able to fool the guards and coordinate and prepare for the escape. It's a fun read and, if you are a fan of WWII stories, this one is highly recommended (even if you have already I've seen The Great Escape many times and it remains one of my favorite war movies of all time. This book, written by one of the POW's in Stalag Luft III who participated in the events, is the story on which the movie is based. It goes into more detail than the movie did about the ingenious ways that the prisoners were able to fool the guards and coordinate and prepare for the escape. It's a fun read and, if you are a fan of WWII stories, this one is highly recommended (even if you have already seen the movie.)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    This is the basis for the fabulously wonderful movie of the same name starring Steve McQueen.n The movie is an all-time family favorite and a true story so having seen it many times, I wasn't sure the book could bring enough additional information to keep me interested which, of course, was not a issue at all. Filled with numerous additional details, I truly enjoyed discovering more depth and details about the bravery and ingenuity of the characters that I have come to love through the years. Hi This is the basis for the fabulously wonderful movie of the same name starring Steve McQueen.n The movie is an all-time family favorite and a true story so having seen it many times, I wasn't sure the book could bring enough additional information to keep me interested which, of course, was not a issue at all. Filled with numerous additional details, I truly enjoyed discovering more depth and details about the bravery and ingenuity of the characters that I have come to love through the years. Highly recommended for all history and WWII buffs. Well narrated by Robert Whitfield.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sara Whear

    I had no idea how accurate (ish) the movie is to the events of the book. It's truly mind-boggling how many elaborate and fantastic things the prisoners were able to pull off. Brickhill makes Hogan's Heroes far more realistic than I imagined (full-scale forgery, tool-making, tailoring efforts going on). This book is both uplifting and heart-breaking and truly shows what a group of brilliant men are capable of when they are committed to a task. I had no idea how accurate (ish) the movie is to the events of the book. It's truly mind-boggling how many elaborate and fantastic things the prisoners were able to pull off. Brickhill makes Hogan's Heroes far more realistic than I imagined (full-scale forgery, tool-making, tailoring efforts going on). This book is both uplifting and heart-breaking and truly shows what a group of brilliant men are capable of when they are committed to a task.

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