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Publisher's Summary

Under the cover of night on June 11, 1962, using only crude homemade tools, Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin tunneled their way out of Alcatraz, America's most secure maximum security prison. Enacting a complex escape plan, the trio broke free from the cellblock, made it undetected past patrolling guards, inflated homemade life vests and a raft, and set sail into a foggy history. Made famous by the classic film Escape from Alcatraz starring Clint Eastwood and multiple Hollywood documentaries, this legendary mystery is still debated over a half century later.

Considered America's Devil Island, Alcatraz opened in August 1934 with the intent to turn the spectacularly colorful dispositions of America's worst criminals into a world of black and white. Cramped cells, stern discipline, strict rules, and an unrelenting routine shaped almost every aspect of daily life on the Rock. The island was a natural fortress, separated from the mainland by a narrow strait of frigid water and deadly currents. It was believed that no one could escape alive. With its damp cold and austere isolation, Alcatraz was the toughest of all federal penitentiaries - as tough as the criminals housed there - and it successfully contained some of America's most notorious outlaws.

In Escaping Alcatraz: The Untold Story of the Greatest Prison Break in American History, Alcatraz historian Michael Esslinger and David Widner, nephew of the Anglin brothers, both featured in the History Channel documentary Alcatraz: Search for the Truth, have compiled FBI and Bureau of Prisons investigative notes, original source documents from the Anglin family library, inmate case file records, interviews with key convicts and officers, and first-person accounts of officials who investigated the escape to produce one of the most detailed narratives of the famed prison break.

©2017 Michael Esslinger and David Widner (P)2018 Michael Esslinger and David Widner

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Alcatraz A to Z . . .

This book was fascinating! It has a little bit of everything - the history and construction of the famous prison (I never knew it was THAT old!), what life was like *on the rock*, and the many attempted (and one perhaps successfull) escapes. Did they actually make it? Still a hotly debated subject to this very day. The amazingly creative plans that prisoners will think up in order to try and escape from a place that was considered UNescapable is incredible, and there were many that tried.

They really didnt have much to work with, as they were only given the very BARE essentials while there, unlike todays prisons. Inmates NOT getting any visitors due to its isolated location, and NO contact with the outside world except for letters. A REAL prison!!!

To be honest, I havent read any other books about Alcatraz...but surely there cannot be ONE thing that was left uncovered in this book! So much information! This book isnt done in typical story format, so it can easily be listened to in segments instead.

If you love historical non-fiction you will enjoy this. It gives you a very good idea of what convict life was like back in the day. The narrator was perfect! Excellent choice for this book and subject matter.

I was gifted this audiobook in exchange for my review opinion. THANK YOU :)

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Not-So Rock Solid

Like many people, I suppose, I had always though no one had ever successfully escaped the inescapable Alcatraz. “Escaping Alcatraz: The Untold Story of the Greatest Prison Break in American History” corrects that misconception and also details the fourteen total escapes – successful and otherwise – from the Rock.

The first section of the book details the facility’s history and then recaps all of the attempted escapes. It then tells the story of the only successful escape from Alcatraz on June 11, 1962. But after telling the tale the author then goes back and details the plot of the escape which, to my way of thinking, would have been more logical before telling the tale of the escape itself but that’s just me.

Dave Clark does an admirable job of narration and overall “Escaping Alcatraz” is an enjoyable experience.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Casey
  • Huron, SD, United States
  • 03-09-18

Fantastic

Alcatraz as a subject matter has always fascinated me but it is something I hadn't really studied seriously up to this point.

This book was a good place for me to start because it had a little of everything. It contained an overview of the prison itself and some of the escapes that were attempted over the years. Then when it got to the Morris/Anglin escape of 1962 we got a lot of detailed information including biographical information concerning all of the major players.

Then after the escape we got an examination of the aftermath and a look at some of the theories that have come about over the intervening years.

This is the first time I heard a book narrated by Dave Clark. As another reviewer commented, he has a voice that suits this book. I thought I was listening to an extended documentary when listening to the main narration but I also enjoyed the vocal changes he would make when reading quotes from specific people. His voice was easy to listen to and I was able to finish the audiobook in one day with very few pauses for any reason.

If you want to learn more about Alcatraz, this book is a pretty good place to start. After listening to it, I intend to listen to more books by the author and more narrated by Dave Clark in the future. It is hard to come up with a better endorsement than that.

I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. The fact that it was free did not impact my ratings in any way.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A great journey to the famous prison...

This great non-fiction audiobook takes you on a very interesting journey to (and again back from) Alcatraz and provides new evidence about the 1962 escape.

I found the voice of the narrator particularly suitable for this kind of book and I listened to it almost nonstop from beginning to end.

The book brings Alcatraz back to life and gives the reader a good idea of how it might have been when the prison was still in use.

Also, I have already got the ,Escape from Alcatraz' film and I would really like to go and visit some day to see it myself.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A very well researched book and a story well told.

This book was painstaking researched and very wwll presented. The reeading was very well done and engaging.

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Escape artist

Frank Morris, John and Clarence Anglin escaped from the inescapable prison.  Alcatraz was a high-security prison from 1934 to 1963.  Morris and the Anglin's escape is what really sealed the prison closing because it brought the prison under extreme scrutiny. This book gives you a very good back history of the prison, of prisoners who escape, and the overall prison system at the time.  

This book provides the reader with first-hand accounts, FBI reports and still maintains the what-if factor.  There is also a brief history of the motion picture from 1979 Escape from Alcatraz. 

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Exactly as expected

Good stories but nothing truly gripping. A great read for die-hard Alcatraz fans. Makes me want to go back to San Francisco and visit it again.

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Great Book!

This is a great book with a wonderful story and well developed characters. The story flowed very well and was very enjoyable. This book will keep you reading long into the night and you will not want to put this book down until you finish. This was such a great read and full of surprises. The narrator did a wonderful job with this book. The narrator did a great job with the different voices of each character in this book. It was very easy to listen to and I didn’t want to stop listening until the end. If you are looking for a great book with well-developed characters then you need to listen to this book. I am looking forward to listening to the next book by this author and narrator.

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Escaping Alcatraz

Greatly enjoyed this audio book. Would recommend it. Did enjoy the historical facts woven throughout.

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I Now Need to Visit Alcatraz

If you could sum up Escaping Alcatraz in three words, what would they be?

I did not know a lot about the history of Alcatraz prior to listening to this book, but loved the way the author gave insight to the workings of the physicality and also the back ground of the Anglin family

Have you listened to any of Dave Clark’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not listened to any other work from Mr. Clark

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

I loved the theory of the gentleman, on his deathbed confessing to the killing of the escapees and the blood in the bottom of the boat.....just makes you wonder what really did happen to them

Any additional comments?

The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.