World War I narrative recounts POW prison breakouts
The Escape Artists by Neal Bascomb illustrates the true story of Allied prisoners of war (POW) breaking out of the best German prison during World War I, Holzminden. Constantly overshadowed by the brutality of the concentration camps of World War II, Germany’s POW camps during World War I may not share the atrocities of its successors camps, but they were infamously hard to break out of.
The book begins with Allied POWs captured by the Germans and stuck in several camps, vowing to get out and return to the fight. The prisoners manage to set up for an escape through a tunnel, but are stopped by a traitor among the prisoners and forced to abandon their plans. They are then moved to a different camp where they formulate a new plan to break out.
The prisoners are forced to deal with limited resources and a careful watch from their captors. This is accompanied by rows of barbed wire fences, armed guards and sentries, along with dogs with an incredible sense of smell, trained to prevent escapees.
I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to anyone seeking to educate themselves on the lesser-known aspects of war. One of the benefits I found from this book was that in many war books there can be an overload of heavy content.
While other stories emphasize information-packed paragraphs, this book helped highlight the realities of POW’s while still creating a manageable story for readers to follow.
The other positive aspect of this book is that it spotlights World War I. I have found much literature readily available on World War II, but often less is written about “the war to end all wars”.
I am not very familiar with World War I, meaning that this book held loads new material that I was previously unaware of. This helped level my knowledge and understand how “The Great War” ultimately led to and caused the Second World War.
The most difficult thing in the book was in the beginning, the story gave a background and backstory for all of the main characters in the camp and created slight confusion. I struggled to remember whose backstory was whose when they got to the camps, but it was not a problem after the story began to flow.
This book is meant for those who enjoy historical non-fiction stories, specifically from World War II. The construction of the story is similar to other non-fiction novels such as “Church of Spies” and “The Priest Barracks: Dachau 1938-1945”.
This book can be purchased on Amazon for $13.
For another book review, read Book Review: Indianapolis.
Andrew Rieker can be contacted via email.
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