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The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War

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Neal Bascomb, New York Times best-selling author, delivers the spellbinding story of the downed Allied airmen who masterminded the remarkably courageous--and ingenious--breakout from Germany's most devilish POW camp In the winter trenches and flak-filled skies of World War I, soldiers and pilots alike might avoid death, only to find themselves imprisoned in Germany's archi Neal Bascomb, New York Times best-selling author, delivers the spellbinding story of the downed Allied airmen who masterminded the remarkably courageous--and ingenious--breakout from Germany's most devilish POW camp In the winter trenches and flak-filled skies of World War I, soldiers and pilots alike might avoid death, only to find themselves imprisoned in Germany's archipelago of POW camps, often in abominable conditions. The most infamous was Holzminden, a land-locked Alcatraz of sorts that housed the most troublesome, escape-prone prisoners. Its commandant was a boorish, hate-filled tyrant named Karl Niemeyer who swore that none should ever leave. Desperate to break out of "Hellminden" and return to the fight, a group of Allied prisoners led by ace pilot (and former Army sapper) David Gray hatch an elaborate escape plan. Their plot demands a risky feat of engineering as well as a bevy of disguises, forged documents, fake walls, and steely resolve. Once beyond the watch towers and round-the-clock patrols, Gray and almost a dozen of his half-starved fellow prisoners must then make a heroic 150 mile dash through enemy-occupied territory towards free Holland. Drawing on never-before-seen memoirs and letters, Neal Bascomb brings this narrative to cinematic life, amid the twilight of the British Empire and the darkest, most savage hours of the fight against Germany. At turns tragic, funny, inspirational, and nail-biting suspenseful, this is the little-known story of the biggest POW breakout of the Great War.


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Neal Bascomb, New York Times best-selling author, delivers the spellbinding story of the downed Allied airmen who masterminded the remarkably courageous--and ingenious--breakout from Germany's most devilish POW camp In the winter trenches and flak-filled skies of World War I, soldiers and pilots alike might avoid death, only to find themselves imprisoned in Germany's archi Neal Bascomb, New York Times best-selling author, delivers the spellbinding story of the downed Allied airmen who masterminded the remarkably courageous--and ingenious--breakout from Germany's most devilish POW camp In the winter trenches and flak-filled skies of World War I, soldiers and pilots alike might avoid death, only to find themselves imprisoned in Germany's archipelago of POW camps, often in abominable conditions. The most infamous was Holzminden, a land-locked Alcatraz of sorts that housed the most troublesome, escape-prone prisoners. Its commandant was a boorish, hate-filled tyrant named Karl Niemeyer who swore that none should ever leave. Desperate to break out of "Hellminden" and return to the fight, a group of Allied prisoners led by ace pilot (and former Army sapper) David Gray hatch an elaborate escape plan. Their plot demands a risky feat of engineering as well as a bevy of disguises, forged documents, fake walls, and steely resolve. Once beyond the watch towers and round-the-clock patrols, Gray and almost a dozen of his half-starved fellow prisoners must then make a heroic 150 mile dash through enemy-occupied territory towards free Holland. Drawing on never-before-seen memoirs and letters, Neal Bascomb brings this narrative to cinematic life, amid the twilight of the British Empire and the darkest, most savage hours of the fight against Germany. At turns tragic, funny, inspirational, and nail-biting suspenseful, this is the little-known story of the biggest POW breakout of the Great War.

30 review for The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War

  1. 5 out of 5

    ||Swaroop||

    Stone Walls do not a Prison make. Nor Iron bars a Cage.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    An extremely well-researched account of escape attempts (both successful and unsuccessful) by British soldiers during WW I. As most of these were pilots, readers get a vivid account of what life was like for those early pilots, as warfare made its shift skyward. The attrition rate was as terrible as it became in QQ II, but these guys still were willing to risk it. Some even relished the risk. They brought the same attitude toward trying to escape, though conditions in prisoner of war camps were a An extremely well-researched account of escape attempts (both successful and unsuccessful) by British soldiers during WW I. As most of these were pilots, readers get a vivid account of what life was like for those early pilots, as warfare made its shift skyward. The attrition rate was as terrible as it became in QQ II, but these guys still were willing to risk it. Some even relished the risk. They brought the same attitude toward trying to escape, though conditions in prisoner of war camps were abysmal, especially under a particular pair of German commanders notorious for their cruelty and avarice. Relying on wartime reports as well as personal letters and diaries, Bascomb takes the time to provide backgrounds on his main characters, giving at least sketches of many others. The bulk of the book leads up to, and includes, a mass escape (over seventy men before the tunnel began to collapse), and what happened after. Unlike The Great Escape of WW II, a bunch of these guys made it. Bascomb writes with verve, demonstrating a thorough knowledge of his subject. Absorbing, often grim, read for those interested in WW I history. Copy provided by NetGalley

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    The Escape Artists can easily be envisioned as ready for the big screen. The author builds up the story with painstakingly researched details of the fliers lives before the war, while imprisoned, and afterwards, including the reunions decades later. This book joins Bascomb’s other great pieces of wartime nonfiction, and rivals Hampton Sides’s Ghost Soldiers as one of the best accounts of POW escape. For my full review: https://paulspicks.blog/2018/08/20/th... For all my reviews: https://paulspicks The Escape Artists can easily be envisioned as ready for the big screen. The author builds up the story with painstakingly researched details of the fliers lives before the war, while imprisoned, and afterwards, including the reunions decades later. This book joins Bascomb’s other great pieces of wartime nonfiction, and rivals Hampton Sides’s Ghost Soldiers as one of the best accounts of POW escape. For my full review: https://paulspicks.blog/2018/08/20/th... For all my reviews: https://paulspicks.blog

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bonnye Reed

    GNAB This is a excellent history of the POW situation in Germany in the First World War, and the intrepid pilots and air crews who did their all to escape and get back into the planes that would win the war. I found it very enlightening and even entertaining at times, with never a dull moment. We forget, in this day and age, just how fragile were the planes in the early twentieth century, and how nasty that war got before it was over. The Geneva Convention was just a name as far as Germany was c GNAB This is a excellent history of the POW situation in Germany in the First World War, and the intrepid pilots and air crews who did their all to escape and get back into the planes that would win the war. I found it very enlightening and even entertaining at times, with never a dull moment. We forget, in this day and age, just how fragile were the planes in the early twentieth century, and how nasty that war got before it was over. The Geneva Convention was just a name as far as Germany was concerned and the POW camps were run by party favorites and misfits, adding to the problems faced by British and French POWs. This is history of those men, that war, that I can highly recommend to both historical readers and those of a more military bent. I received a free electronic copy of this history from Netgalley, Neal Bascomb, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all, for sharing your hard work with me. pub date Sept 18, 2018

  5. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    Bascomb is one of my favorites. This is an exceptional WWI thriller that tells the story of British POWs and their exploits trying to escape captivity. As is the case with the author's previous works, there is exceptional quality research and prose that read like good fiction. Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the Advanced Copy

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Hayes

    This book was absolutely spellbinding. I read it in two days and found myself struggling to pull away. With superb editing and an extensive history of reasearch, Neal Bascomb was able to transport me to another time. The Escape Artists is a nonfiction account of prisoners of war held in Germany during World War One. This was a time when the gentlemanly agreements of the Hague and Geneva conventions were unenforceable, and prisoners were treated in grossly inhumaine fashion. The Escape Artists be This book was absolutely spellbinding. I read it in two days and found myself struggling to pull away. With superb editing and an extensive history of reasearch, Neal Bascomb was able to transport me to another time. The Escape Artists is a nonfiction account of prisoners of war held in Germany during World War One. This was a time when the gentlemanly agreements of the Hague and Geneva conventions were unenforceable, and prisoners were treated in grossly inhumaine fashion. The Escape Artists begins with a general introduction to the majority of the key players in this story, as well as the details of their service and capture. Once we have been introduced, the author takes us on a winding and well researched tale describing their daily lives, routines, trials and coping methods for life in captivity. We are introduced to men who are wontonly cruel for the sake of it, men who are cowards and attempt to curry favor with their captors, and men who with the greatest of spirit refuse to be cowed into submission. They seek only one thing...a return to home and hearth. To rejoin their comrades at the front and maintain the honor of their service they concoct masterful and daring attempts at escape and evasion, chosing to let neither terrible conditions nor repeated capture to cow their indefatigable spirit. These men maintained theire sense of selves, of justice, and their mirth as they rebelled against their captors in every way they could. This book describes some of the greatest of a truly great generation.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Leigh-Anne

    I enjoyed reading "The Escape Artists" by Neal Boscomb. It was and interesting and engaging story I was unaware of set in WWI. I am so grateful when authors write these types of stories because a time will come when the memories of these events are completely erased and these books are all we will have left of such important events. The story follows several British military men during WWI as they make several attempts to escape POW Camps in Germany. I wish I would've written down the main chara I enjoyed reading "The Escape Artists" by Neal Boscomb. It was and interesting and engaging story I was unaware of set in WWI. I am so grateful when authors write these types of stories because a time will come when the memories of these events are completely erased and these books are all we will have left of such important events. The story follows several British military men during WWI as they make several attempts to escape POW Camps in Germany. I wish I would've written down the main characters when they first appeared at the beginning of the book because I started getting confused about who was who. It is my only complaint about this book. The beginning could've been better organized and it seemed a bit confusing. A great story for any history lovers fascinated by WWI. I generally stick to WWII history, but I'm branching out and this was a fascinating story. A strong 3.5 rating from me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Schuyler Wallace

    When you ‘re down and out and feeling blue (is that a song?), you need a book such as Neal Bascomb’s “The Escape Artists” to get you rejuvenated. It’s the story of heroes who never give up. The horrors of German prison camps are, once again, presented in miserable detail but there’s something different. There’s optimism, courage, ingenuity, persistence, and humor that overcome the bleakness experienced by most captives. During the war the sky over Germany rained paper, wire, and wood as thousands When you ‘re down and out and feeling blue (is that a song?), you need a book such as Neal Bascomb’s “The Escape Artists” to get you rejuvenated. It’s the story of heroes who never give up. The horrors of German prison camps are, once again, presented in miserable detail but there’s something different. There’s optimism, courage, ingenuity, persistence, and humor that overcome the bleakness experienced by most captives. During the war the sky over Germany rained paper, wire, and wood as thousands of RAF aircraft plummeted down. Some were shot down, some had mechanical failure that prompted their plunge to earth, and inexperienced pilots without enough training crashed some. The survivors were scooped up by German troops, eventually ending up in the countless prison camps. Multitudes of stiff upper lip Britishers found themselves cold, hungry, insect bitten, and miserable as guests. Through intense research, Bascomb brings forth his story of World War I British aviators who successfully escape by tunneling out of Holzminden, the Alcatraz of German prisoner of war camps. The perseverance of the courageous men is astounding and the author has described their efforts using crackling prose and riveting detail. The credo ingrained in British soldiers was that their duty was to attempt to escape at all times. The author states that there were 192,848 POWs held in Germany and that a total of 573 prisoners actually escaped. The heroes of his book tried to get away many times but most of them were failed attempts. But over and over the attempts continued. No amount of punishment, short of being put to death, ever acted as a deterrent. The Holzminden escape saw ten aviators succeed and another nineteen be recaptured. The audacity behind the escape plan, and the success, was unprecedented. The author provides the intricate details. His account is thrilling and inspirational. You need to read the book to bring some zing to your prosaic life.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    I have read the book about the famous Great Escape of World War II from a German POW camp. However, I have never heard of the Great Escape of World War I until I read this book. This book was amazing and very interesting. British and other Allied pilots were being held in German POW camps. One of the POW camps was Holzminden, a landlocked Alcatraz that held Allied POW's who made several escape attempts from other prisons. The camp commandant was Karl Niemeyer. A group of Allied POW's led by Davi I have read the book about the famous Great Escape of World War II from a German POW camp. However, I have never heard of the Great Escape of World War I until I read this book. This book was amazing and very interesting. British and other Allied pilots were being held in German POW camps. One of the POW camps was Holzminden, a landlocked Alcatraz that held Allied POW's who made several escape attempts from other prisons. The camp commandant was Karl Niemeyer. A group of Allied POW's led by David Gray, a former army sapper and ace pilot spent months on a escape plan. They dug tunnels 150 miles into Holland under enemy territory and forged documents, made disguises, and fake walls. Highly recommend for those who have a interest in World War I history!!!!

  10. 4 out of 5

    The Irregular Reader

    So have you seen The Great Escape? The 1963 film is a virtual who’s-who of ’60s movie stardom (including Steve McQueen (yay!), James Coburn, Richard Attenborough, and James Garner). The movie is a dramatization of a real-life mass prison break from a Nazi prison camp during World War II. The Escape Artists tells the story of the men who laid the foundations of such escapes. World War I brought warfare into a brutal, modern era. The trenches, the gas, the aerial dogfights were new and terrible rea So have you seen The Great Escape? The 1963 film is a virtual who’s-who of ’60s movie stardom (including Steve McQueen (yay!), James Coburn, Richard Attenborough, and James Garner). The movie is a dramatization of a real-life mass prison break from a Nazi prison camp during World War II. The Escape Artists tells the story of the men who laid the foundations of such escapes. World War I brought warfare into a brutal, modern era. The trenches, the gas, the aerial dogfights were new and terrible realities of battle. In addition, the imprisonment of enemy soldiers occurred at a rate previously unheard of. The systems surrounding these mass incarcerations, and the rules of engagement between prisoner and jailer were new and largely untested. It was drilled into British soldiers and officers that their duty, if captures, was to escape and rejoin the fighting force as soon as possible. Beyond bringing experienced fight men back into the fold, even unsuccessful escape attempts diverted critical enemy resources from the front lines. Bascomb has given us a lively, riveting history of some truly remarkable men. The sheer ingenuity of their escape attempts (which were many) is something to behold. These men displayed bravery under pressure, creativity in the face of hardship, and an unflagging determination to escape from their captors. When WWII began, the most successful of these escape artists would go on to tutor a whole new generation of soldiers in the art of prison break. This is a history book for military buffs, but also for anyone who enjoys a good adventure story. The fact that all this really happened only makes it that much more enthralling. An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    Neal Bascomb is the author of many books about WW1, WW2, and other 20th century events. He's a superb author; writing about complicated history with an ease it's a pleasure to read. His new book, "The Escape Artists", is about British airmen and soldiers captured by the Germans in WW1 and sent to a hell-hole POW camp, Holzminden. The subtitle of the book is "A Band of Daredevil Pilots and Greatest Prison Break of the Great War", and that's what Bascomb concentrates his text on. When I picked thi Neal Bascomb is the author of many books about WW1, WW2, and other 20th century events. He's a superb author; writing about complicated history with an ease it's a pleasure to read. His new book, "The Escape Artists", is about British airmen and soldiers captured by the Germans in WW1 and sent to a hell-hole POW camp, Holzminden. The subtitle of the book is "A Band of Daredevil Pilots and Greatest Prison Break of the Great War", and that's what Bascomb concentrates his text on. When I picked this book to read for review, I looked at the title and thought it was about the famous POW break from Colditz in WW2. That was the prison breakout filmed as "The Great Escape". Bascomb, though, takes the reader back to WW1 where planes-at-war are still primitive (Orville Wright predicted powered flights "would make further wars practically impossible". He wasn't exactly correct, but rather, they became "a multipronged weapon" in the war,) Bascomb writes about the pilots, their training, their fighting, their captures. He also includes soldiers, who end up at "Hellminden", with the pilots. Neal Bascomb has written a wonderful book that captures a little known part of WW1. It's very detailed, so if you're looking for a light read on the subject, this is not the book. But for armchair historians who want to go behind the story, it's a great read. By the way, there is a Young Adult book called "The Grand Escape" on the same subject by Neal Bascomb. It's being issued on the same day as "The Escape Artists".

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jen Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ

    This is my first time reading Neal Bascomb and he offers so much of what I want in a book. I love historical novels, fiction or non-fiction, that are well researched and are well written. I enjoyed learning about aviation during WWI through the multiple story lines and rich character development. Will look for more books by Bascomb in the future. Thanks!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lghiggins

    War is such a horrible thing—vicious, destructive, and despicable. It brings out the worst and the best in man. We see both in Neal Bascomb’s true recounting of the largest escape of WWI by the British at one time—twenty-nine officers of whom ten actually made it out of Germany to Holland without being recaptured. Bascomb’s well-researched tale The Escape Artists is divided into four major sections. In the first, “Capture,” he provides a glimpse into the personalities and lives of some of the maj War is such a horrible thing—vicious, destructive, and despicable. It brings out the worst and the best in man. We see both in Neal Bascomb’s true recounting of the largest escape of WWI by the British at one time—twenty-nine officers of whom ten actually made it out of Germany to Holland without being recaptured. Bascomb’s well-researched tale The Escape Artists is divided into four major sections. In the first, “Capture,” he provides a glimpse into the personalities and lives of some of the major players in the escape, their role in the military, and the circumstances of their capture. The second section, “All Roads Lead to Hellminden,” describes a number of interment camps but focuses especially on notorious twin commandants, Karl and Heinrich Niemeyer. Both prisoners and commandants could be transferred at whim in Germany and being transferred could be positive or negative for a prisoner. This section details life in the camp and shows a better situation for officers than that experienced by enlisted soldiers who were put in labor camps. Officers, instilled with the patriotic drive to do whatever they could to hinder the enemy and return home to fight again, spent a lot of their energy devising and executing escape plans. If their attempts were unsuccessful or they were recaptured, the punishment was generally a long and uncomfortable time in a small isolation cell—dark, very hot or very cold, dirty, overrun with vermin, and little food. This trial on the body, mind, and spirit might last several days, weeks or months. Nevertheless, instead of deterring escape attempts, it prodded the officers into yet more clever tries. “The Tunnel” describes the huge group effort spearheaded by an officer named Gray to construct a very long tunnel and plan how to proceed once outside the walls of Holzminden. All of the background material in the first two sections was essential, but at this point the story really takes off and you will want to keep reading until finished. The last section. “Breakout,” shares the actual escape attempt. To write this book, Bascomb read a lot of books on the escape and the interment camps, interviewed descendants of the officers, and relied greatly on primary documents including memoirs and letters from the time. His narrative style is effective and the subject matter is interesting. Having read several books on labor and death camps, it was interesting to read about the British officers, drawn from all over the globe. Many of them were young pilots from exclusive schools and families. They had little training, but were very patriotic and had a honed sense of duty and honor. One surprising detail for me was that the imprisoned officers were able to write to their families and receive packages and money from them. Not everything went smoothly in that process, but they were better off than those in labor camps. They even had orderlies from the enlisted ranks of prisoners to make their beds, etc. This was not a luxury situation by any means, and the men were quite bored and frustrated whiling away time when they felt they should be fighting. Neal Bascomb is a former journalist who turned to writing nonfiction books full-time in 2000. He is the award winning author of nine books for adults and three for young adults. I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Synopsis British pilots of rudimentary airplanes are captured by Germans during WWI. As prisoners of war, they are shuffled to various prisons and subject to brutal conditions. Lack of food, clean water, adequate shelter, and cruelty on the part of the prisons’ commanders’ force many officers to plan elaborate escapes. These plans, if they fail, will yield corporal punishment, solitary confinement, military court martial, and possibly death. Yet the P I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Synopsis British pilots of rudimentary airplanes are captured by Germans during WWI. As prisoners of war, they are shuffled to various prisons and subject to brutal conditions. Lack of food, clean water, adequate shelter, and cruelty on the part of the prisons’ commanders’ force many officers to plan elaborate escapes. These plans, if they fail, will yield corporal punishment, solitary confinement, military court martial, and possibly death. Yet the POWs persist. Through a combination of ingenuity, persistence, luck, and bravery, 29 POWs escaped Holzminden, the overcrowded and disease ridden prison under the watch of the cruel, capricious commander Niemayer. Ten of these escaped POWs eventually make it back home to Britain, just in time to see the Germans defeated and the Armistice signed. Review I was intrigued to learn about the story of WWI prison escapes. I read “The Great Escape” by Paul Brickhill, and the recent Winston Churchill story of his escape during the Boer War, “Hero of the Empire” by Candice Millard, both of which are excellent. Neal Bascomb adds to this genre of stories with a first-rate recounting of this adventure. The first thing I learned, even before the pilots were captured, was the conditions of airplanes of that era. Airplanes had only been invented less than a dozen years before WWI, and military strategies and tactics were being made up on the spot. A pilot with two months experience was needed to train even newer recruits. One third of casualties were during take offs and landings. These were all biplanes, with no enclosed cockpit, so the pilots had to wear layers of warm clothes to keep from freezing at 10,000 feet. Adding to the terror of using this new technology was the chance of being shot down by German anti aircraft weapons. Even in spite of surviving the capture, the pilots tried to endure prison life the best they could. Writing poetry, putting on plays, and exercising were all methods to keep the boredom and insanity at bay. Of course, these privileges were revoked at the whims of the captors. Karl Niemeyer, the commandant of Holzminden prison, was a very insecure man who demanded strict adherence to his arbitrary rules. Prisoners never knew what would set him off, sending them to brutal solitary confinement. Niemeyer was also harsh to the German guards, who, out of resentment, aided in the escape. I am very impressed with the ingenuity of the prisoners. They adapted ordinary household items into tools that would help them. One man made photographic copies of maps that were smuggled in. Because of the length of the tunnel, a bellows was fashioned to pump in fresh air. Compasses, maps, forged identification papers, and uniforms were all fabricated surreptitiously. Bascomb really gave me the feeling of fear and claustrophobia of the men in the tunnel. “The Escape Artists” is highly recommended detailing heroism, bravery, courage, and the resiliency of the human spirit.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    This is an excellent history (that I received as an eARC from Netgalley) of a subject that is not that well represented in the history section - probably because it deals with WWI instead of WWII. Luckily ever since 2014 when the first WWI centennials were observed more and more information about WWI has been published and a new generation of readers are introduced to the terrible first world war, a war of such devastation it is sad that this wasn't the last world war. As in all wars, along wit This is an excellent history (that I received as an eARC from Netgalley) of a subject that is not that well represented in the history section - probably because it deals with WWI instead of WWII. Luckily ever since 2014 when the first WWI centennials were observed more and more information about WWI has been published and a new generation of readers are introduced to the terrible first world war, a war of such devastation it is sad that this wasn't the last world war. As in all wars, along with casualties there are prisoners taken and this very readable book details a particular group of POWs -- Allied pilots who were shot down and taken prisoner by the Germans. That there were pilots that survived to go to prison was somewhat remarkable given the extreme flimsiness of WWI aircraft and the large number of pilots who were killed relatively soon after they were sent on missions. This history concentrates on the officers who spent most of their imprisonment planning and trying to escape German hands, usually unsuccessfully. If you have read WWII and after prisoner accounts you will be surprised at several big differences. The class difference between enlisted and officers was huge -- most POW camps were for enlisted or officers (and the enlisted were often sent into mines and other brutal work sites to toil for the Germans). The officers did have some enlisted in their camps - to work as their orderly's -- make their beds, bring them tea, etc! This was a job that was often given to enlisted that had been injured and was considered a great job. The officers were not expected to work and if they tried to escape and were recaptured they would be punished by solitary confinement. If enlisted tried to escape and were recaptured they were often put to death so between hard labor and such mortal punishment most enlisted did not spend all their time plotting escape. One other interesting part of WWI POW confinement was that officers could write regularly to their families AND receive packages from them. Many times their packages were torn apart and things stolen by German guards but still this was a regular part of their lives. By 1917 many repeat escape offenders were sent to a prison camp called Holzminden and the great escape of the title is located at this camp. Compared with some escapes in WWII not that many men actually escaped. However as the author notes, lessons learned by WWI POWs were passed down in training to British soldiers in WWII and directly contributed to successful escapes in that later war. This is a very readable history that will keep you engrossed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Read Ng

    The Great Escape of the Great War. An historic event that I was not aware of. This story reads closely along the lines of the WWII movie version, The Great Escape. But these events occurred in a different era and sense of honor than in WWII. Prisoners allowed parole walks outside of the fenced prison? Care packages from home that actually make it to the prisoners? It was a different world, vastly different than today's world. I really like the glimpses of The Great War's era and peoples. How many The Great Escape of the Great War. An historic event that I was not aware of. This story reads closely along the lines of the WWII movie version, The Great Escape. But these events occurred in a different era and sense of honor than in WWII. Prisoners allowed parole walks outside of the fenced prison? Care packages from home that actually make it to the prisoners? It was a different world, vastly different than today's world. I really like the glimpses of The Great War's era and peoples. How many escape attempts stay the same over the years. I was amazed at the ingenuity of the POW to concoct a plan and gather resources. And how Officers were treated so differently from the Enlisted. I was intrigued by the concept that POWs relocated into a neutral country could return to their homes, but would not be eligible to return to the battlefield. I was especially terrified by the vision of digging an escape tunnel under such dangerous conditions. And regardless of the era, being a POW is never a pleasant experience. This was a GoodReads

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    The Escape Artists is the extraordinary story of a small group of British servicemen and their efforts to escape from German POW camps. It's not necessarily one group, as prisoners get moved from camp to camp and participate in different escape efforts. Rather, it's about the resilience of men in very challenging conditions. They face frustrations and dangers, and some even make good their escapes while others fail and some even die in the effort. Theirs is a story of courage and determination i The Escape Artists is the extraordinary story of a small group of British servicemen and their efforts to escape from German POW camps. It's not necessarily one group, as prisoners get moved from camp to camp and participate in different escape efforts. Rather, it's about the resilience of men in very challenging conditions. They face frustrations and dangers, and some even make good their escapes while others fail and some even die in the effort. Theirs is a story of courage and determination in the face of adversity, in the midst of a war that brought the world horrors and losses beyond expression. The Escape Artists is well written and worthy of your time, if you have any interest in the subject at all.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    The Escape Artists by Neal Bascomb follows a group of British officers as they attempt to escape from World War I prison camps. In typical Neal Bascomb fashion the book is fast paced and covers lots of ancillary stories before settling on the main one and tying all of the pieces together in a nice story. This book which follows the largest breakout out attempt of British Prisoners of War in world war I and their harrowing journey across Germany and back to Holland. The book details the various e The Escape Artists by Neal Bascomb follows a group of British officers as they attempt to escape from World War I prison camps. In typical Neal Bascomb fashion the book is fast paced and covers lots of ancillary stories before settling on the main one and tying all of the pieces together in a nice story. This book which follows the largest breakout out attempt of British Prisoners of War in world war I and their harrowing journey across Germany and back to Holland. The book details the various escape attempts, German reprisals, and the aftermath of their attempts. Overall very well written and fun with another great book from Bascomb.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gary Detrick

    A few pages into this book, and "Bang", your on a journey of capture and escape. Many tried to escape many times only to be captured again. Not ones to give up, they continue on. Plan continue to ensue putting you right in the middle of the plan, actions and eventually the big escape. A book you don't want to put down once Neal takes you on a ride through the characters and their adventures. Intertwining the events of the individuals leaves you wanting to find out more. Well written and document A few pages into this book, and "Bang", your on a journey of capture and escape. Many tried to escape many times only to be captured again. Not ones to give up, they continue on. Plan continue to ensue putting you right in the middle of the plan, actions and eventually the big escape. A book you don't want to put down once Neal takes you on a ride through the characters and their adventures. Intertwining the events of the individuals leaves you wanting to find out more. Well written and documented, this is an advenute in history worth your reading time.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Libby Beyreis

    I'm kind of a sucker for true stories about prison breaks, so I was already predisposed to like this book. It's a great story, though. It follows a number of pilots who were captured by the Germans during the first world war, and tracks their various escape attempts, culminating in a massive prison break from the prison camp the Germans had specifically built to hold their most escape-prone captives. The book has a little bit of a slow start as it introduced all of the characters, but the actual I'm kind of a sucker for true stories about prison breaks, so I was already predisposed to like this book. It's a great story, though. It follows a number of pilots who were captured by the Germans during the first world war, and tracks their various escape attempts, culminating in a massive prison break from the prison camp the Germans had specifically built to hold their most escape-prone captives. The book has a little bit of a slow start as it introduced all of the characters, but the actual escape attempt was well described and nerve wracking.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    The Escape Artists should appeal to WW1 history buffs. It sent me to the internet several times to find out more about the places and people mentioned. It would be a good literature selection to use in conjunction with a history class at the high school or college level, but I think it might be beyond most younger readers. I personally found it to be a rather slow read. I never got swept up in the story. I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review The Escape Artists should appeal to WW1 history buffs. It sent me to the internet several times to find out more about the places and people mentioned. It would be a good literature selection to use in conjunction with a history class at the high school or college level, but I think it might be beyond most younger readers. I personally found it to be a rather slow read. I never got swept up in the story. I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are solely my own.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

    This is largely a tedious telling of dozens and dozens of failed attempts to escape from German POW camps in World War One by Allied Airmen and Soldiers. The purpose is to give background stories of the 29 men who successfully escaped from the Holzminden Prisoner of War Camp in 1918. All 29 men apparently tried to escape before and you read all the stories which are very similar. And there in lies the problem. It becomes horribly monotonous well before the big escape.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    A very entertaining recount of not one, but many escapes or attempts. I was kept wondering which way the final escape would be. It is an easy read with short chapters so that you can stop anytime you want. Several of the captives you come very close to as their lives are described. You also come to despise a certain Kommondant. I love the message sent to him by one of the escapees. Brilliant! I will look forward to reading more from this author.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Colin Lawrence

    The story of the first 'great escape' by POWs. A well researched account of the mass breakout in 1918 from a supposedly escape-proof prisoner-of-war camp in Germany in the First World War. A fascinating incite into the conditions endured by captives who were desperate to return to the fight. An absorbing read which sheds much light on the attitudes of both Germany and Britain and neutrals towards the whole POW situation a hundred years ago.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jay Klages

    A wonderful story brought to life, and 5-star research. I only thought the first half could have been structured a bit more effectively. After the initial captures, I found it hard to keep track of the main characters. Maybe the story could have just started at Holzminden where you got to know the main characters and their backstories. I was definitely glued to the last 100-150 pages. Recommended for any escape story junkie.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Zibreg

    Very good book. Details the many attempted escapes of these several WWI prisoners. Eventually, they were successful at tunneling and escaping from Holzminden prison. I also found it fascinating reading about the primitive, by today’s standard, planes the pilots used to fly behind enemy lines.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cyndi

    Interesting but not riveting.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bill Tyroler

    Quick-paced, highly readable account of a mass escape by British POWs in WWI.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lee Adams

    Bascomb's narrative of the POW's passing through this tunnel brought on a feeling of claustrophobia. Great writing brought you right along this daring journey.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Really engaging story. I had a hard time putting this book down. Whether or not you care about WWI, you'll enjoy this story.

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