The Grand Escape: The Greatest Prison Breakout of the 20th Century
Exciting World War ONE Narrative Nonfiction
World War I was a harrowing war, but is not covered as frequently as World War II. This is a shame, since there are so many facets of the war that have not been covered. For instance, I had forgotten that the Hague Conventions laid out very clear and extensive rules about how prisoners of war should be treated. During WWI, the Germans violated these on multiple occasions. The Grand Escape tells how prisoners at Holzminden were so mistreated that the planned an almost impossible escape.
In prose that has all of the compelling interest of a fictionalized tale but with plentiful period photographs to reinforce the reality of the horror, Bascomb follows soldiers as they are fighting and then captured, eventually ending up in the notorious prison camp. Following the individual's backstories, as well as their experiences in the camp, brings a very personal immediacy to the escape. Of course, any true follower of war tales will appreciate the maps and copies of notes as the prisoners plan and eventually execute their plans.
While there are shelves and shelves of riveting historical nonfiction about WWII, such as McCormick's McCormick, Patricia. The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero, Freedman's We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler, Hoose's The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club and O'Reilly' s Hitler's Last Days: The Death of the Nazi Regime and the World's Most Notorious Dictator, there is relatively little about WWI. Freedman's The War to End All Wars: World War I is excellent, but more of an overview than an in-depth dissection of a particular facet. I would love to see more on this military conflict and encourage my readers who like this sort of literature to broaden their scope a tiny bit!