Cover image for The grand escape : the greatest prison breakout of the 20th century
Title:
The grand escape : the greatest prison breakout of the 20th century
ISBN:
9781338140347
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
275 pages : illustrations, maps ; 22 cm.
Summary:
At the height of World War I, as battles raged in the trenches and in the air, another struggle for survival was being waged in the most notorious POW camp in all of Germany: Holzminden. A land-locked Alcatraz of sorts, it was home to the most troublesome Allied prisoners--and the most talented at escape. The Grand Escape tells the remarkable tale of a band of pilots who pulled off an ingenious plan and made it out of enemy territory in the biggest breakout of WWI, inspiring their countrymen in the darkest hours of the war. --
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Summary

Summary

Neal Bascomb, author of The Nazi Hunters, returns with his next thrilling work of narrative nonfiction about a group of Allied POWs who staged an escape for the ages during World War I.

Neal Bascomb, author of The Nazi Hunters, returns with his next thrilling work of narrative nonfiction about a group of Allied POWs who staged an escape for the ages during World War I. Illustrated throughout with incredible photographs and published on the 100th anniversary of the Holzminden escape!At the height of World War I, as battles raged in the trenches and in the air, another struggle for survival was being waged in the most notorious POW camp in all of Germany: Holzminden. A land-locked Alcatraz of sorts, it was home to the most troublesome Allied prisoners--and the most talented at escape. The Grand Escape tells the remarkable tale of a band of pilots who pulled off an ingenious plan and made it out of enemy territory in the biggest breakout of WWI, inspiring their countrymen in the darkest hours of the war.


Author Notes

Neal Bascomb was born in Denver, Colorado in 1971.

Neal graduated from Miami University (Ohio) with dual degrees in Economics and English Literature.

Neal's first book was Higher (Doubleday) which was chosen for a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award. His other works include Perfect Mile (Houghton Mifflin), Red Mutiny (Houghton Mifflin), and Hunting Eichmann (Houghton Mifflin).

In 2014 his title, The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World's Most Notorious Nazi, made The New York Times Best Seller List.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-Bascomb presents the horrid conditions that prisoners of war at the notorious German prison camp Holzminden, run by the brutal Karl Niemeyer, experienced during World War I-and the band of men who were determined to break free. Their goal: to never get caught and do whatever it takes. They proved successful by digging a tunnel from this fortress prison through the foundation and out to freedom. The author carefully explains their extensive plans, bolstered by images and maps, and focuses on the science of the escape (milk used as invisible ink, makeshift bellows to provide fresh air into the tunnel) and how the men defied recapture. It is a tale of triumph that became a template for future prisoners of war, and Bascomb's heavy, well-cited research provides the information readers need. The dozens of names and intricate details occasionally slow down the narrative a bit, though the subject matter alone is compelling. VERDICT A fantastic pick for avid history readers.--Alicia Abdul, Albany High School, NY © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Horn Book Review

Bascomb follows his two previous WWII histories for young adults (The Nazi Hunters, rev. 9/13; Sabotage, rev. 7/16) with another gripping work of narrative nonfiction, this time focusing on a small group of WWI prisoners of war and their astounding efforts to tunnel out of Germanys Holzminden prison camp, a place established to hold the most troublesome Allied officers in Germany. The 1918 breakout, the greatest escape of the war, provided valuable lessons for subsequent training of WWII troops in principles of evasion and escape. The books first nine chapters introduce the masterminds and key players and follow the often-circuitous routes that brought each to Holzminden. Plentiful black-and-white archival photos and maps and clear diagrams of the prison camp support Bascombs meticulously researched, detailed text. Once the tunneling begins in earnest, Bascombs vivid prose puts readers in the cramped, dank, rat-infested tunnel with claustrophobic immediacy: Blain clawed the dirt to drag himself forward. Every so often, a rat scurried across his back or stared him straight in the eyeAnd the airthere was never enough to fill his lungs. In addition to the threat of being buried alive, the team faced countless obstacles both in the tunnel and out; the 150-mile trek to the Dutch border was planned with as much precision as the tunnel engineering. A helpful List of Participants precedes the main narrative, and a list of the twenty-nine prisoners (both the ten who succeeded and the nineteen who didnt) is appended. Bascombs Sources and Acknowledgements section offers insight into his exhaustive research; also appended are an extensive bibliography, chapter-by-chapter notes, and an index. kitty Flynn January/February 2019 p 110(c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

Allied prisoners of war stage a series of intrepid escapes from German captors in this young readers' version of a true story from World War I.Established to hold captured Allied officers with histories of escape attempts, the camp at Holzminden, a "land-locked Alcatraz," was 150 miles from the Dutch border and bristling with guards. Many of the inmates, though, were stimulated rather than discouraged by these obstacles and, from its foundation, made tries at freedommost notably on the night of July 23, 1918, when 29 men crawled out through a narrow tunnel dug over the previous months. Only 10 eluded the ensuing manhunt, but the exploit made headlines in Great Britain and was, Bascomb (The Escape Artists, 2018, etc.) claims, "the greatest escape of the Great War." Along with introducing a cast of colorful characters like RAF Lt. Harold Medlicott, "Britain's answer to Harry Houdini," who had already broken out of nine other camps, the author presents a picture of camp life as an oddly civilized affair in which the prisoners were so well-supplied from home that in the war's immediate aftermath local residents came to them for food. The tales of the digging of the cramped tunnel and of the escape itself make suspenseful reading, enhanced by diagrams and photographs.A fine escapade related with proper drama and likely to be news even to well-read young historians. (maps, sources, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12-15) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* It is estimated that during WWI there were some 192,848 British and Empire POWs held in Germany. Here Bascomb recounts some of their stories of prison camp life, escape, recapture, and escape again. The most talented and persistent of these escape artists were sent to the Holzminden camp under the command of the vile Karl Niemeyer. Spurred on, perhaps in part, by his depredations, a core group of POWs determined to escape by tunneling out of the camp. Ultimately their nine-foot-deep tunnel extended more than 60 feet and offered escape to 29 POWs. But this was only the first part of their quest for freedom. They still had to traverse 150 miles across enemy territory to Holland and freedom. Bascomb does an extraordinary job of bringing the principal escapees to life, especially the father of the tunnel, David Gray, and his two companions, Cecil Blain and Caspar Kennard. His account of the Herculean task of digging the tunnel is fascinating, viscerally evoking the claustrophobic act. He also invests his account with page-turning suspense and colorful detail. The narrative is enhanced by the inclusion of generous period photographs and contemporary maps and charts. Altogether, the book is a marvel of research and an example of narrative nonfiction at its finest. It's a grand adventure.--Michael Cart Copyright 2018 Booklist