"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.
The San Francisco Chronicle
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
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!
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!