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Under the Wire: The Bestselling Memoir of an American Spitfire Pilot and Legendary POW Escaper

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More About This Book

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781481088855
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/29/2012
  • Pages: 398
  • Sales rank: 220,538
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Born in Dallas in 1917, WILLIAM ASH worked his way through school and college during the Great Depression, graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, to the heights of elevator operator, then Hobo.

At the outbreak of war in Europe he rode the rails to Canada and enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940. A Spitfire pilot, he saw action over England and France. He was shot down near Calais in March 1942 and evaded the German forces for months with help from the French Resistance but was captured and badly beaten by the Gestapo.

Bill was sent to a succession of POW camps in Occupied Europe from which he escaped on a regular basis, becoming one of the greatest escapers of the war. At war's end, he was awarded an MBE for his escaping activities and went on to work for the BBC in India and Britain. He became a writer and a past Chair of the Writers Guild (GB). Married to the academic Ranjana Ash, he lives in London where he stayed after the war.

This account of his wartime adventures became a best-seller in the UK and Tunnel King Ash observed "I've discovered the secret of success - all you have to do is dig a hole and wait seventy years". He celebrated his 95th birthday in November 2012 with the publication of this, the first paperback edition in North America.

Bill's friend and co-author BRENDAN FOLEY grew up in Belfast and now divides his time between London and Los Angeles, with his wife Shelly, also a writer. A former award-winning features journalist, Foley has also written feature films including Johnny Was starring Vinnie Jones and The Riddle starring Derek Jacobi and Vanessa Redgrave. He is now developing a feature film version of Under the Wire.

Recent reviews on amazon.co.uk:
***** Under The Wire By Mike Goldwater.
Under the Wire is a wonderfully moving book. We journey with him through beautiful moments of freedom as he discovers his ability as a flyer, refining his skills in combat as he weaves his Spitfire across the skies, through appalling tortures by the Gestapo, to the terrifying claustrophobia of tunnelling under the wire. Iit is almost impossible to put the book down. I thoroughly recommend it.

***** Excellent Read By Oldbiker.
I've just read "Under The Wire" from cover to cover,the dishes need doing,phone calls should have been made and there's no food in the house. "Unputdownable" might be a horrible word, but it applies to William Ash's superb book.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I approached this book as a courtesy to the author, whose servic

    I approached this book as a courtesy to the author, whose service in World War II deserved, in my opinion, some attention. What a marvelous surprise and delight to find it an entirely engrossing, well-told story of several slices of American History, some of which are not often told.


    While the main story chronicles Bill Ash's experience flying Spitfire fighter planes for the RAF, his day of reckoning when he was shot down, and his remarkable experiences hiding from the Nazis in occupied Europe, and then, after captivity, his numerous escape attempts, other aspects of the story were very interesting too. He grew up in Depression-era Texas with a spirit of wanderlust and adventure. As a youth, he joined the transient hobo community, hopping trains and learning to survive with quick wits, creativity, and courage. Little did he know how well this would prepare him for his experience as an escape artist from Nazi prisons.


    Unlike many WWII books that recount the horrors of prison camp and the brutality of the enemy, Ash and his co-author, Brendan Foley, have opted for an emphasis on the spirit and resourcefulness of Ash and his fellow prisoners and their ability to find humor even in the midst of their terrible situation. The author's observations about the changing behavior of the Germans as the war got closer to the end was also very interesting.


    The voice of this book was genuine and honest. Brendan Foley has undoubtedly worked wonders with his journalism skills and his excellent telling of Bill Ash's story. This is a remarkable, fascinating book that shines a spotlight on that small, rare breed of soldiers who were willing to take extraordinary risks for the sake of freedom. I hope they make this into a movie, and I'd go so far to suggest it is a "must-read" for anyone interested in WWII real-life stories.

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