Great Escape

Great Escape

4.9 7
by Paul Brickhill

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With only their bare hands and the crudest of homemade tools, they sank shafts, built underground railroads, forged passports, drew maps, faked weapons, and tailored German uniforms and civilian clothes.

They developed a fantastic security system to protect themselves from the German "ferrets" who prowled the compounds with nerve-racking tenacity and


With only their bare hands and the crudest of homemade tools, they sank shafts, built underground railroads, forged passports, drew maps, faked weapons, and tailored German uniforms and civilian clothes.

They developed a fantastic security system to protect themselves from the German "ferrets" who prowled the compounds with nerve-racking tenacity and suspicion.

It was a split-second operation as delicate and as deadly as a time bomb. It demanded the concentrated devotion and vigilance of more than six hundred men — every single one of them, every minute, every hour, every day, and every night for more than a year.

Editorial Reviews

Dallas Times-Herald
“Absorbing... spine-tingling... puts the average war book so far in the shadow it's not even funny.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“One of the great true stories of the war, and one of the greatest escape narratives of all time.”
Boston Globe
“For sheer suspense, puts the fictioneers to shame.”

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:

Meet the Author

Paul Brickhill was shot down over Tunisia on March 17, 1943. He was captured by the Germans and soon transferred to Luft III, where he joined organization "X" working on the great escape.

Customer Reviews

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The Great Escape 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although The Great Escape is his memoir of time in a German prison camp, Paul Brickhill's famous autobiography reads like anything but. Born in Australia in 1916, Brickhill joined the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II, was shot down over Tunisia in 1943, captured by Germans and imprisoned in Stalag Luft III. Lead by a fellow pilot, Roger Bushell, a band of nearly two hundred prisoners plotted an escape only mad men would dream of. An interesting point of Brickhill's book is that it does not use him as the main character. In fact, he makes himself more of a narrator, and becomes almost separated form the story. Instead the role of protagonist is filled by Roger, and his fellow conspirator's. This, coupled with Brickhill's unique author's voice, creates an autobiography that reads more like a crime thriller. The Great Escape combines the greatest elements of World War II novels. Be it the tongue-in-cheek humor of manipulating their German captors or the adrenaline rushes that grip the reader when the prisoners find the secrecy of their schemes compromised, The Great Escape has it all. That is not to say that the book is completely free of flaws. Due to the fact that the story revolves around many characters Brickhill devotes more time than necessary to descriptions of characters that appear only once. These flaws, however, do not even come close to diminishing from the books qualities. The Great Escape is a tale written in blood, sweat and tears. The prisoners capture the heart of the reader, and their determination inspires all. Reading The Great Escape is like reading an episode of Hogan's Heroes. It is a tale few who read it will ever forget.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a true story, written by a man who was there, Paul Brickhill. The year is 1943, and thousands of Allied aircrews and soldiers find themselves forced as unwilling guests to endure German military hospitality. Led by Roger Bushell, hundreds of Allied officers, worked right under the Germans' noses to prepare and conduct the largest Allied POW escape during all of WWII. Though living on semi-starvation rations and locked up away from the world, these ingenious men craft tools from cans and odd bits of metal, sew suits and civilian clothes from uniforms and shoe polish, make mining equipment from bedboards and duffel bags, and create almost perfect forgeries of German IDs and travel documents. And they manage to do all this despite the very strenuous and determined efforts of their German guards to detect all this. The focal points of all this activity are the escape routes themselves - tunnels called Tom, Dick, and Harry. Rather than pinning all their hopes on a single tunnel, the prisoners start working on three tunnels simultaneously! Although they later give up their effort on two of these tunnels, their foresight later enables them to make their escape as their original tunnel was discovered and destroyed. These desperate men are playing a dangerous game as the German population and government is becoming increasingly embittered and bloodthirsty against Allied servicemen, especially aircrews that are systematically leveling German's cities. After almost a year of planning and preparing, the prisoners set the date for escape. Over 200 men are granted spots in the night's escape roster! They are dressed in their civilian clothes, carrying valid IDs and travel permits, using prisoner-mimeographed escape maps, holding plenty of Reichsmarks, and stocked with iron rations. Everything has been planned to the last detail. (How they managed to secure and/or make all this you will have to read to believe.) When they make their break, it will become the biggest manhunt in all of Nazi Germany's history! The TV show, Hogan's Heroes, is loosely based on this book with many of the personalities and ideas taken from Brickhill's book. What I enjoyed most about the book was the ingenuity and perseverance of these men to overcome such huge difficulties in organizing their unprecedented escape. The book is a breeze to read with the words flowing effortlessly across the page - I had it read in 3 - 4 days. It also has a few hand-drawn illustrations. Not just a great book, but also a true-life story of determination, dedication, and success!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about some prisoners of war who really wants to escape. The novel takes place in Germany. I think this book was very enjoyable and interesting. I can't believe this really happen.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the best book ever. I am only an eleven year old but when I first saw the movie I was addicted to it. I tried to read it but I had to read too many schoolbooks. But I have finished it less than a week ago and I am already persuading my parents to give it to me for Christmas. The Great Escape is a true story of loyalty, secrecy, conspiracy, and war. Read this book and you will know the people who dug over 300 feet in the earth from the best tunnel finders in all of Europe. I will definatley read 'The Great Escape' by Paul Brickhill again very soon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Great Escape is a great book about of Pow's who are attempting to escape a what the Germans call a "Un escapable" camp.There is never a dull moment in this book!!This is a true story and I can't believe that this actully happened!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book could have been better because it didn't go anywhere. I thought the characters were apart of the book but the storyline didn't go anywhere. I thought the use of the homemade tools and another tools were very usefull.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the few books that is truly a hard to put down, heart-pounding thriller about real people in a real war. A good mix of humour and sober stories of the realities of life as a P.O.W. Written by one of the prisoners, this insight into the elaborate measures and improvised tools used to tunnel out of a German prison camp will hold you riveted until the last page. Better than the Hollywood depiction (which is also full of the actual events) it gives you a feel for the personalities of those brave men. Dedicated to 'The Fifty' to whom you become attached during the course of this book, you will feel part of this couragous group.