©1978 Paul Brickhill; (P)1997 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"The timing, cadence, vocal quality, and even melody of Whitfield's reading add to the suspense." (AudioFile)
If no one had ever listened to an audiobook before, this would be the first one I would recommend.
The story is equal parts funny, suspenseful, tragic, and heroic. There is not one dull moment.
Robert Whitfield plays the wearied storyteller to perfection. You can hear in his performance the voice of a man who lived through this ordeal, but never lost his hope or his trust in his fellow countrymen and allies.
The incredible and famous movie adaptation has buried its all-star cast in the western world's psyche. Everyone has images of Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, and all the rest in their heads. This gives the amateur audiobook listener a shortcut to visualizing the major characters.
Finally, it's all true.
You can see so many of the incidents in the book dramatized on the big screen, but this is the real story. The film missed this filthy nature of these men who had insufficient food for much of the time they were POWs. Brickhill has done 3 classics of the WWII genre. This, the Dam Busters, and Reach for the Sky. He was in the RAF and at Stalag Luft III. I don't completely trust the book as history because of his personal involvement. However, it's still a gripping story. It goes by so quickly. Very enjoyable and one of the better stories in the escape genre. You don't get behind the escapers as much as those personal memiors or Reed's Coldtiz Story, but still jolly good.....
It's amazing how resourceful the prisoners were in such a difficult and challenging situation - becoming a game of us against the Nazi. I have listened this book three times and have enjoyed it every time. Much better than the movie.
PLOT: a group of Brits are going to leave in a mass escape from a POW camp deep inside Nazi Germany.
The Brits were sent to a Stalag (German Prisoner of War Camp) in the heart of Germany. As the war takes a turn for the worse for Germany the Prisoners decided the make the ultimate escape tunnels. Inside this camp are some of the best diggers, forgers, actors and escape artists. Soon an escape committee has a plan for 3 Tunnels, Tom Dick and Harry. When the Germans aka Krauts discover one tunnel they put all their efforts into one huge escape. The tunnel complete with air pumps, wooden trolleys to carry dirt and men, forged papers and meager rations all move forward to carry out the escape of hundreds of men. ADDED fun is the clever idea that only a few of them knew the complete plan adding to the safety of the plan. The real goal is not just escape but to tie up Nazi resources on finding the escapees.
This is a long audio but at times is simply too brilliant how the men carry on their plots under the eyes of the ever watchful Germans. BASED on real life events. Who has not seen the GREAT ESCAPE movie with Steve McQueen? but this fills in the details of how they really did the job. I GIVE IT 4 STARS FOR STORY, 4 FOR PERFORMANCE AND 5 FOR REAL LIFE STORY. In real life over 50 of the escapes were shot as punishment by the order of Hitler.
This is not an exciting thriller written with edge-of-your-seat action, but it is a wonderful and fascinating look at the resourcefulness, ingenuity, and sense of duty of a group of primarily British officers held in a German POW camp. I was amazed at how resourceful the men were at not just using the items they had at hand (blankets, bedboards, empty tins) but at creating rather complicated equipment from scratch (compasses, duplicating machines). To think that they used smuggled jelly candies to make the straight unsweetened gelatin needed to make a Hectograph for printing passes and documents just astounds me.
Also clear in the book is something which is not appreciated by many - that the escape plan was not done solely (or even primarily) to get home, but rather as a duty to tie up German resources that could otherwise be spent on fighting. Trying to escape was a prisoner's duty, not just a personal drive for freedom. Many of the men involved knew they were extremely unlikely to make it home - and only 3 did successfully escape; the other 73 were recaptured, and 50 of those were illegally executed by the Gestapo.
Not all the men who escaped were British - some were officers in the Polish, South African, New Zealand, Canadian, and Australian forces. The American officers were held in another camp and not part of the escape (in spite of what's portrayed in the movie). The author was one of the many prisoners who helped with the planning and creation of the tunnels and equipment, though he did not actually do any tunneling and was not one of the escapees.
Absolutely terrific read that fired my imagination and sent me running to YouTube to find interviews with the POWs that were there. Amazing to know that the technical aspects of the dig as portrayed in the film were 100% true. The book provides even more jaw dropping details and wily tricks not covered in the film. Wonderful!! Get it! You won't be sorry!
Say something about yourself!
An excellent book to listen to while working.
Roger was such an interesting character. He is now who I think of as an example of a leader among men.
There were so many, but to each he brought expression and depth of character.
Once they have decided on a course of action, a group of men can do anything.
An amazing story of the war internment. How these men managed to deceive their captures for so long is quite amazing. Very resourceful and ingenius use of minimal supplies that they collected. Internment camps in Germany were far more open then in Japan. Escape in Japan was virtually impossible. Very brave and brazen men in a different time. Highly recommend if you are a WW II buff.
I've listened to this book several times and I'm still amazed at the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the prisoners. Much better than the movie! Well written and well narrated this book is well worth a listen.
After finishing Unbroken I couldn't help but wonder about life and struggles in German POW camps. The Great Escape is best known by the movie made about this true story. I decided to "read" it first and it didn't disappoint. Where Unbroken spends a great deal of time explaining the poor conditions, sickness, starvation and brutality of Life in Japanese POW camps, this journey is about Air Force officers and their escape plans, genius and bravery. A great read!!
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