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Do the Birds Still Sing in Hell? [Paperback]

Horace Greasley
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2013

An incredible true tale of one man's courage and defiance of the German nation in the name of love

Horace "Jim" Greasley was 20 years old in the spring of 1939 when Adolf Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia and Poland. There had been whispers and murmurs of discontent from certain quarters and the British government began to prepare for the inevitable war. After seven weeks training with the 2nd/5th Battalion Leicester, he found himself facing the might of the German army in a muddy field in Northern France, with just 30 rounds of ammunition in his weapon pouch. Horace's war didn't last long. He was taken prisoner on May 25th, 1940 and forced to endure a 10 week march across France and Belgium en route to Holland. Horace survived, barely, but many of his comrades were not so fortunate. Falling by the side of the road through exhaustion and malnourishment meant a bullet through the back of the head and the corpse left to rot. After a three day train journey without food and water, Horace found himself incarcerated in a prison camp in Poland. It was there he embarked on an incredible love affair with a German girl interpreting for his captors. He experienced the sweet taste of freedom each time he escaped to see her, yet incredibly he made his way back into the camp each time—sometimes two or three times a week. He broke out of the camp more than 200 times, often bringing food back to his fellow prisoners to supplement their meager rations, and toward the end of the war even managed to bring radio parts back in, allowing the BBC news to be delivered daily to more than 3,000 prisoners.

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Product Details

Product Description

About the Author

Horace Greasley (1918–2010) was an English POW who escaped from his camp more than 200 times.

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Customer Reviews

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1.0 out of 5 stars TMI - Too Much Information July 11 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While I enjoyed the tales of the prisoners march I found this man's personal accounts disturbing. His detailed sexual exploits and fascination with getting laid were disturbing. While I don't doubt that any man stuck in prison would crave human contact I simply did not get his preoccupation which went above and beyond his drive to live and escape.

To say that he was able to get out of a camp then chose to stay only so he could keep fornicating is a odd to say the least. Yes he brought back "some" food and radio bits but a prisoner's duty, especially in WWII, was to get home and continue the fight. If nothing else at least to get some of his other buddies out but he was too selfish because that would have put an end to his sexual forays. I find his preoccupation with his erections and the memories of the smell of his lover's genitals a tad weird for a man of his age to be sharing in a book.

His own father had the right reaction hearing of his lover. He cavorted with the enemy and dishonoured his country by not using his opportunities to get himself and some of his mates out. As a veteran myself I would love to speak with men whom were in camp with "Jim" because my feeling is that they probably would remember him more as a self-entered bastard rather than this amazing guy.

Frankly any of the other men who survived what he did could tell the same story much better without constant references to their groin. Sorry Horace but you bored me. No stars!
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5.0 out of 5 stars fast shipping March 13 2014
By destiny
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
came on Christmas eve so was perfect timing! great novel. one of my faves!! highly recommend for all! worth it
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5.0 out of 5 stars Factual & accurate Jan. 25 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I served in then W. Ger. from May '62 to Dec. '65 both as a helicopter pilot & tank commander.

What I read, saw and heard is written in this book, although the "loving" was not part of my duty. I read "The Rise & Fall of the Third Reich" prior to rotation. I re-read it again, one year later. Upon returning to Canada, I read it a third time. Wm. L. Shirer & also Leon Uris (Mila18) are dead (no pun intended) accurate in their assessments.

This book, to me, was a "page turner". My future grand-son-in-law read it (his was paper copy) at the same time as I & we both came to the same conclusion - awesome.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Husband rates it five stars Jan. 6 2014
By Betty Gelean TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My husband is currently reading this book and is totally immersed in it. He tells me it is very well-written and great content. It is a true story of war, prison camps, and romance; I will hope to read the book myself and review it at a later date.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  52 reviews
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of Storytelling Aug. 13 2011
By Badger559 - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I should have known I'd love this book from the get go after getting sucked into the Foreword and the Prologue. Once I started Chapter One, and I met the Russian soldier Ivan with his mentor at the end of the Second World War, I couldn't put it down. From there it reversed in time, and I was introduced to the humble beginnings of my soon to be role model/hero Joseph Horace "Jim" Greasley and the stranger than fiction tale of his involvement in the war, his capture, and his struggle to survive to die a free and loved man.

People often use the expression "a roller coaster of emotion" for different kinds of things, but honestly, after reading this book, I will never use that expression for another movie, book, story, anything, ever again. I knew going into reading it that Greasley would come out alive, after all it's his story, but even so, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end when for a split second it looked like he would come close to death--and that occurred almost every five pages. I was emotionally connected to every character in this story: his friends--Flapper especially--his lover Rose, the many faces he'd seen along his journey, and I even felt a hint of sadness for some of the German guards, the enemies of the story.

By over 300 pages, I felt I knew these men, and if given the chance to meet them, I would in a heartbeat, even if it's now impossible. It's so hard to put into words how much this novel moved me after I turned the last page, but it's restored so much faith in me that human beings although are capable of evil, they are capable of good, and good can always triumph with hope and spirit--even when the main character himself is an atheist.

If you pick this book up, you won't be disappointed.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping true story about love and determination in WW2 Feb. 3 2009
By William Daysh - Published on
This is a truly gripping and heart-rending story of a young British soldier's incredible spirit and determination to survive the inhumanity and degradation of German POW camps and the liberation of Europe in WW2. While still a prisoner, `Jim' dares to lust after a young Silesian female interpreter called Rosa and somehow manages to make love to her within feet of his German captors -- initially, just to spite them. But as their lust evolves into a passionate love affair, it forces them both to risk their lives constantly as he routinely manages to escape just to be with Rosa and to facilitate their joint efforts to smuggle radio parts and extra life-saving food into the camp to share with his fellow prisoners.
A very well told story that I recommend highly.
"A well-crafted story of forbidden love overcoming impossible odds. The pages seem to turn by themselves one after another until the emotional conclusion arrives."
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heart-rending love story set in the horrors of WW2 March 24 2010
By Carol Ovens - Published on
Be prepared to experience a roller coaster of emotions when you read this book. Beautifully written, Horace describes how even whilst enduring the horrific hardships of prisoner-of-war camps he was able to find love. This is a war story with a difference - a unique and touching story that the reader is drawn into.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written, full of factual errors, cringing sex scenes June 2 2014
By N. Rowe - Published on
It's like The Great Escape meets Schindler's List with added 1970s porn and Battle comic bravado and written by Dan Brown (yes, it's a page turner, but it's clunky and cliched). I bought this for my dad and have just read it myself. There are parts where it feels a bit suspect, that Horace (aka Jim) has painted a bigger part than probably happened in reality. Heroic and modest (in places).

And then the sex begins. I don't mind a bit of 'how's your father' etc. but this is pretty toe-curling and amateurish, like it's been copied out of an ancient porn mag.

There's very little real emotion portrayed between Jim & Rosa and in the end it all quickly peters out rather unsatisfactorily. I've read biographies of other wartime characters and they are all head and shoulders above this two-dimensional sensationalist piece. The relationships in teen soap operas seem slightly more believable.

And the factual errors! Cripes! I don't know if Ken Scott deliberately left them in as if to say "honestly, nothing to do with me, I just typed up what he told me", or whether no-one took the time to actually check these things. Without even going back to the book to find them, I can reel off the following: 1) Jim was strafed by a Messerschmitt 210 in 1940 (no he wasn't, it must have been a 110 because the 210 was a dodgy replacement that briefly appeared in service around 1943); 2) the book states that the Japanese were driven out of Burma in 43/44 (this didn't happen until 1945); 3) Jim is carried home in a Dakota and the pilot 'opens the bomb bay to show the returning Brits the white cliffs of Dover' (no he didn't, the Dakota never had a bomb bay); 4) Jim is given a lift back home in a Land Rover (no he wasn't, the Land Rover was still 2 years away from the drawing board). Heaven knows what other mistakes are in there. These are such simple, glaring errors that you do wonder what else is complete bollards as well. There's even a specific reference to the end of the war in Europe, stating a date in May '1944', despite having gone on about it being 1945 for a couple of chapters. For god's sake, get a proof-reader!

So, generally, quite bad. If it's the only book to hand and you need something to read, it won't make your brain melt or eyes fall out. Take it with a huge pinch of salt and pretend it was made up by some B movie writer and you might cope.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read Dec 24 2013
By Pathfinder 66 - Published on
The story is well written and moves along at a good clip. Greasley's tale is indeed remarkable and he was apparently a man of great pride and determination. That said, a few doubts linger in view of the fact there was no corroboration from other sources. The first and last parts of the book are not for the feint of heart, as the cruelty endured by both captives and civilians at the hands of the Germans are described in stomach-churning detail. But my biggest issue with the book was the explicit sex scenes that served no purpose and were distracting in view of the real drama unfolding. One minute you're reading about the POWs being subjected to the sadistic whims of SS officers, and the next you're reading in detail about Greasley's girlfriend's genitalia. I suspect the author did this to create interludes to what otherwise would have been a long sequence of redundant escapes. If so, he should have found another way. Had he done so, and had there been even one corroborative source, I would have given it five stars.
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