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The Great Escape [Hardcover]

Paul Brickhill
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 1 1993
"One of the great true stories of the war, and one of the greatest escape narratives of all time."—San Francisco Chronicle
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Description


Absorbing... spine-tingling... puts the average war book so far in the shadow it's not even funny. " --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

"One Of The Great True Stories Of The War, And One Of The Greatest Escape Narratives Of All Time."

The San Francisco Chronicle

--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
It looked like a long war, and the Germans were building a new compound at Sagan. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great escapes! March 1 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have always loved the movie "The Great Escape". Its distribution was great and I enjoyed every minute of it, everytime I watched it, and I watched it as often as I had the opportunity to do so. However, I wondered how close to the actual events it was.
The book by Paul Brickhill is fascinating! At first, I had some difficuties with millitary abbreviations being a Quebec francophone born in 1957 but I came over it rapidly. It is well written with vivid descriptions and it kept me captivated although I had an idea of what to expect. Still, it is incredible what those POWs have accomplished by working toward the same goal. And I am grateful one of the survivors shared his experience with us.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good historical read Sept. 16 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great story, excellently told, well written. I enjoyed the book better than the movie. A must for any WWII story fan.
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By Scoopriches TOP 500 REVIEWER
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good reas Aug. 9 2012
By Vince18
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was very interesting. It was almost like reading a thriller with all the suspense. I recommend it to any person with an interest in world war 2.
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5.0 out of 5 stars True Story by POW who was there July 15 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A fan of the movie, I wanted to read the book. Knowing that the author was one of the prisoners means you are getting the real story, as they experienced it and remembered it later. It was fun to see just how well the movie did capturing what really happened (even if no Americans really escaped through the tunnel). It was an incredibly entralling book. I followed it with "Stalag Luft III" which was disappointing in that it seems to be more a history of how the Germans took care of those in the camp rather than of those in the camp.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for fans of the movie May 30 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill is a great retelling of the now famous mass escape from Stalag Luft III near Sagan, Germany in the spring of 1944. Brickhill documents in great detail all the little things the prisoners had to do to escape from the so called "perfect camp" they had been placed in. Hundreds of prisoners played a part in the digging of the three tunnels(Tom, Dick, and Harry), forging hundreds of papers, making clothes for all the escapees, watching for the German guards, "ferrets", and so much more. It is astounding as you read the novel how much actually went into the mass escape of 250 officers. Unfortunately, only 76 prisoners made it out before the tunnel was discovered. The book also documents the aftermath of the famous escape as the prisoners attempt to make their way to freedom, and then their subsequent executions at the hands of the Gestapo and SS. This is an excellent book that tells the true story of what really happened during the Great Escape.
If you haven't seen the movie The Great Escape, I highly recommend reading the book and watching the movie. While watching the movie, you can see what characters are based on the real people who took part in the escape. The movie takes some liberties, but it is an excellent companion to the book. An interesting fact is that author Paul Brickhill was one of thousands of prisoners at Stalag Luft III where he documented this incredible story. Also taking part in the movie was tunneller, Wally Floody, who served as a technical advisor to director/producer, John Sturges. For an excellent depiction of the famous mass escape from Stalag Luft III, check out The Great Escape, and the movie too!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting tale of ingenuity! April 19 2004
By John
Format:Mass Market Paperback
An incredible story of raw determination, ingenuity and organization, substantiated with photographs mostly taken by the Germans. Man, is this ever a quick read! I couldn't put it down, and I'm *not* an avid reader. I would have read it faster were it not for so much flipping back to the diagram of the compound to follow along with the text. No one, no matter how imaginative, could have possibly made all this up.
There are many parallels with the movie: There actually was a prisoner in posession of a brand new civilian suit (obtained in Prague on a previous escape attempt and smuggled back into camp), someone who took a trunk through the tunnel, and the guards actually did use the prisoners' English word to refer to the "cooler." Also true was that once outside the fence, one was far from being "out of the woods," figuratively as well as literally; one was still deep within the heavily-policed, papers-conscious Reich.
There wasn't just one tunnel, though, and here are accounts of absolutely relentless escape attempts and incredibly clever make-do fabrications of fake everything, from gate passes to German uniforms and gun replicas --out of anything they could scavenge, inveigle, connive, beg, borrow, or steal.
There is insight regarding the personalities of the Germans as well as the prisoners, and why these POWs, mostly pilots, were placed in a relatively humane camp, and how they built a well-managed intelligence network among themselves. Some of the British slang and military acronyms from a bygone era gave me pause, but it was part of the adventure. A very inspiring tale!
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