The Barbed-Wire University: The Real Lives of Prisoners of War in the Second World War
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The Barbed-Wire University: The Real Lives of Prisoners of War in the Second World War

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  27 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Drawing on letters home, diaries, and interviews with redoubtable survivors now into their nineties, theamazing untold stories of what Allied prisoners really did in POW camps, and how the experiences changed theirlives.

Feature films have created the stereotype of the World War II prisoner of war—the stiff-upper-lipped Alec Guinness in The Bridge on the River Kwai, or Stev...more
Hardcover, 468 pages
Published February 9th 2012 by Aurum Press (first published May 25th 2011)
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Caroline
Most of what I knew about the lives of POWs during the Second World War I have to say, to my shame, I learned from films like The Great Escape or Bridge Over the River Kwai - which is to say therefore that I knew very little at all. Reading this book was a real eye-opener, particularly in the differences of experiences between those Allied soldiers held captive in Germany and Italy and those in the Far East.

Because the war in Europe was much more immediate for Britain, with the Blitz, bombing ra...more
Janet Roberts
The amount of research in this book is truly staggering, and I found it both fascinating and horrific. It certainly was better to be a POW in Europe, when there was a chance of escape as well as regular contact with Britain. I was amazed to learn how many books were sent out by our Universities to enable prisoners to study, and some relished the fact that they were in close proximity to other men of much greater education, who they would never otherwise have ever met.
Highly recommended if you're...more
Rob Kitchin
The Barbed-Wire University provides an overview of the lives of British prisoners of war in Europe and the Far East. It’s strength is the insights it provides into the everyday lives and experiences of the prisoners, showing how they coped with being in captivity. The book deliberately avoids the dramatic tales of escapers and instead concentrates on the mundane and banal - gardening, entertainment, sport, learning - as well as work details, camp conditions and contact with home. At one level it...more
Roger Boyle
Really rewarding, and a very successful debunk of the "escape" genre. Communicates very well what it is like to live crowded among exclusively men, undernourished and above all BORED. Also, a disturbing picture of this life in the Far east, making Nazis look like nice (well, OK) guys.

It fails, I think to describe life for other than the talented and imaginative: but then, perhaps they didn't make records to recount.

The blurb on the cover is accurate - "upends cliches", "every age hums with huma...more
Moira
Jul 07, 2013 Moira rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: researchers
I am researching the experiences of my uncle who was a POW in WW2 in a Stalag in Wolfsberg for three long years. He left behind a young wife and a baby son in far away New Zealand.

I found this an excellent resource - full of details on the day to day lives of a prisoner. Such a treasure trove - uses for red cross parcel string and tin! Cigarettes as currency, ways to combat boredom, education behind barbed wire. Well known names such as Clive Dunn (Cpl Jones in Dad's Army) and Denholm Elliot ar...more
Hannah
There is a lot of very interesting information in The Barbed-Wire University, and the comparisons between the experiences of POWs in Europe and the Far East was fascinating. I did feel, at times, that the book got slightly list-y. The sheer number of people mentioned meant that by the final chapters, following their return to civilian life, I was slightly lost and had to flick back to the chapter they were first mentioned in.
Erin Frost
Fascinating book about the life of POW's in Europe and Asia. A great read.
Tracey  Wilde


Absolutely fascinating !
Adamaljabry
Meh,,,,she isn't as good as i expected
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