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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.

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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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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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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 Classic POW Story.... Feb. 23 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
What a wonderful book. I've read it a few times and I marvel at the every day heroism displayed by the hungry, sex-starved men of Stalag Luft III.
My own copy is the First Edition, printed by Norton in 1950 and signed by George Harsh who wrote the Introduction. I got it for an astonishing $12 and it's one of the most treasured books in my collection.
It's part memoir and historical account. You read as the POWs begin their audacious plan and despite for many of them, what would be a tragic ending, you marvel at what these men had to endure and go through.
Despite the tragedy, this is no weepy account. This is a testimony to the human spirit which triumphs in the face of human isolation. They are prisoners true, but they in the end, are the ones to triumph over nazism.
The movie of course, inspired me to read the book, but just remember that the movie's characters are fictional composites of the real men. It would do well to remember the old cliche, "the book is always better than the movie," which is entirely true in this case.
A Wonderful Book.
Read It.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Great story, weak presentation April 27 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It's a rare thing indeed to discover a movie adaptation is actually better than the book that inspired it, but here it is: Paul Brickhill's THE GREAT ESCAPE is a great plot with no characters to speak of.
Brickhill gives a firsthand account of the escape of 76 men from Sagan, a German prisoner-of-war camp, during World War II. Through tireless efforts and disheartening setbacks, the men managed to dig a lengthy tunnel 30 feet down into the earth, and 300 feet towards possible freedom. The plan, which originally called for three such tunnels, was the single largest escape in WWII history, and the efforts, patience, and bravery of the men secures their escape as one of the most noble efforts of man.
What a pity, then, that THE GREAT ESCAPE is a fairly badly written first-hand narrative, related with all the style of a person making a grocery list. Brickhill has provided the bones of an amazing story, but he neglected to provide any meat along with them.
The story couldn't help but lend itself to a fascinating read. The actions of these men could never be anything less than remarkable. But all Brickhill does is tell the story. He doesn't add any true characterization to the hundreds of people who pop in and out, resulting in a lack of empathy for these men. The reader is left wanting to know more, but is frustratingly denied the opportunity. Even the leader, Roger Bushell, is a cipher, easily interchangeable with any other character.
It is easy to see why this story makes such fertile ground for a movie. The plot is astonishing, and the complete absence of any true personality leaves the filmmakers free to make up any character they want. Roger Bushell didn't escape from Sagan, Richard Attenborough did. So did Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great escapes!
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... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Martine Marcotte
4.0 out of 5 stars Good historical read
Great story, excellently told, well written. I enjoyed the book better than the movie. A must for any WWII story fan.
Published 13 months ago by Beverly-Ann Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Escape: An Adventure And A Moral Conundrum
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. Read more
Published on Sept. 6 2012 by Scoopriches
5.0 out of 5 stars A good reas
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.
Published on Aug. 9 2012 by Vince18
5.0 out of 5 stars True Story by POW who was there
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... Read more
Published on July 15 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Escape: By: Jack Miller
Hello, my name is Jack Miller, and in reading The Great Escape, I really began to understand how terrible the war really was. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2003 by Jack
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Escape
In this installment British and American prisoners are trapped in a Nazi POW camp, and takes place in Germany during WWII. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2003 by "cwb2626"
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding tribute to the human spirit.
As good as the movie "The Great Escape" is, it's impossible for it to capture in full detail the grunt work, planning, and tedious efforts that went into digging tunnels out of... Read more
Published on Dec 19 2002 by C. Pales
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes You Proud To Be A Member Of Western Civilization
The escape scheme these imprisoned Allies brought off during World War II vindicates the absolute superiority of Earth's free people. Read more
Published on Sept. 5 2002 by J. Reynolds
5.0 out of 5 stars Courage under wire
This is an engrossing tale of courage and ingenuity. Amazingly, under the paranoid eyes of their German captors, 76 RAF prisoners of war managed to tunnel their way to (at least... Read more
Published on June 19 2001 by Martin J. Doherty
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