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The Great Escape
Paul Brickhill
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The Great Escape

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  7,535 ratings  ·  359 reviews
One of the most famous true stories from the last war, The GREAT ESCAPE tells how more than six hundred men in a German prisoner-of-war camp worked together to achieve an extraordinary break-out. Every night for a year they dug tunnels, and those who weren't digging forged passports, drew maps, faked weapons and tailored German uniforms and civilian clothes to wear once th ...more
Published by Faber and Faber (first published 1950)
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Robin i fondly remember my dad reading this to me as a young child. i was delighted to find that my memories held up when i reread it as an adult. as a…morei fondly remember my dad reading this to me as a young child. i was delighted to find that my memories held up when i reread it as an adult. as a mother i would say yes, it is ok for tweens. there is a bit of language, obviously some violence (but not graphic in description), cigarette smoking, some alcohol consumption and once or twice a mention of having to go without sex.(less)
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Jason Koivu
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, war
Written by one of the men who assisted in what is known as the Great Escape, Paul Brickhill's book on the experiences of WWII POWs is tense and at times exhilarating. The detail of the escapes from German prison camps is full of descriptive information that should satisfy the curious. His determination to ferret out the stories of escapees after they left the camps would do any journalist proud. In The Great Escape you feel as if you've received about as full of an account of this famous event as you' ...more
Mar 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-wwii
There is something about the movie The Great Escape. It's more than just Steve McQueen and James Gardner. More than the fact that as you watch the movie, you go, "Look, it's James Coburn. Look, it's Charles Bronson! Look, it's David McCallum! Look, it's Hudson! Look, it's Attenborough. No, the other one!". It's more than that. The Great Escape is one of those that you can't help but watch. You might have seen two days ago, but hey, it's on again, and who doesn't like that motorcycle scene. I've even watched ...more
Fred Shaw
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Executive Summary: The rare case where I probably like the movie better than the book. It's a fascinating tale, but I found parts of it rather slow. 3.5 Stars.

Audiobook: Robert Whitfield does a good job with this. Nonfiction can be a challenge, because if the subject matter isn't very good, an audio book can sound more like a lecture. Even during the parts of this book I found slow, I felt that Mr. Whitfield did a good job.

Full Review
I've been on a bit of a "classic" movie kick the last year or tw/>/>
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, history
I remember watching the movie version, so as I started reading the book I had an outline of what would happen.

image: description

The first Book versus Movie Law states that;
The Book is always better than the Movie.
And "The Great Escape" proved the Law right.

image: description

Here I was told all the details for all the preparation that went on long before the first POW came out of the tunnel.

First published in 1950 memories of the war must have been fresh in the author's mind. He describes everyone as what they did and did not fall prey to sweeping
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
This is nonfiction and truly a classic. It was a great read. It was about a prisoner of war camp during WWII. The prisoners all worked together on an elaborate escape scheme. They all knew that not everyone would be able to make the break, but they contributed to the effort the best they could.

If this had been fiction, I think the whole experience would have been fleshed out a little more. But the simple fact that this is nonfiction, makes this even more awe inspiring.
Paul Riches
Nov 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A story enthralled me so much when I was a child, it stays with me to this day. It was an adventure, a tragedy, a drama, a history lesson, and an inspirational tale. And it is all true.

On March 24, 1944, The Great Escape happened in the midst of World War II. The Nazis had captured various British and Commonwealth Airmen over the course of the war, and they had built an "escape proof" Prisoner of War camp to house the most troublesome of the lot. Stalag Luft III was thought to
Oct 27, 2014 marked it as interrupted-or-dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-quasi, audio
I got the audio because it was the daily deal at Audible and I like the narrator, Simon Vance. Plus, I enjoyed the film version. However, I got distracted and didn't finish listening. It started off with a rambling gloss-over accounting of other prison escapes.

True story behind the WWII movie. Narrated by Simon Vance, under the stage name Robert Whitfield.
From Wikipedia: "The Great Escape is an insider's account written by Australian Paul Brickhill of the 1944 mass escape from
The movie based on this book is surprisingly accurate, I must say. Sure it skews the timeline, simplifies the characters and gives the Americans the glory they, unfortunately, were denied, but still, it's quite good.

Oh, the review of this book. In just over two hundred pages, Brickhill manages to tell both an engaging, quick paced tale of escape and to also linger for a decent bit on the people who moved the tale forward, on the ways they planned and schemed, how they made compasses
Dhiraj Sharma
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its difficult to believe that its not a work of fiction. The book explains in great detail the painstaking efforts taken by the POWs to escape from Stalag Luft-III. Don't expect Steve McQueen motorcycle chases and James Garner style flybys. Hollywood changed the story to make it more flamboyant in the 60's film version of the book. But the real story is here, excellently written by Paul Brickhill who himself was a prisoner at the camp. You almost wish all the POWs could have escaped.
The b
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2, history
Seeing the movie over 20 times and realizing that many in the film were composites of the actual characters, there still some close similarities, especially to Roger Bartlett/Bushnell "Big X".
This book was written by a prisoner who was there. With that the book truly portrays the true harsh realities of a prison camp life, that is not portrayed in the film. From starvation, to cold, fear, etc.
What these men endured and were able to accomplish was a miracle in and of itself.
I bow my head to th
Brian Poole
The Great Escape is an interesting artifact of the World War II era.

You’re probably at least glancingly familiar with this real life account, originally published in the early ‘50s. Author Paul Brickhill, an Australian airman, spent a few years in a German prisoner of war camp, where he abetted one of the most famous prisoner escapes of the war.

The Great Escape picks up its story in 1943, when a large number of international POWs (including many Brits and Americans) were ensconced in a ne/>The
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite, history
I picked this book up at a yard sale a few years ago and thought "Wow I didn't even know there was a book" I'd always seen the movie and just assumed there was no book about the true event. I've always liked the movie since I saw it when I was about ten I think but as soon as I picked this book up and started reading I knew I was going to like it much better and was not mistaken. I still think the movie is great but this book tells the story of the prisoners at Stalag Luft III so much better as ...more
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Great Escape was written some years before the film of the same name was released. The author Paul Bricknell was an inmate Stalag Luft III and helped with the famous break-out by 76 RAF prisoners of war.
As is well known of the 76 escapees 3 made it home to England, 23 were recaptured and infamously 50 were murdered, most shot at the sides of roads after capture and interrogation by the Gestapo on the orders of Adolf Hitler.
Paul Bricknell gives a wonderfully detailed account of al
I have grown up with the film and have always admired the bravery of these men who did their best to help win the war even though they were behind enemy lines. There were so many involved that until I was able to get further in the book it was difficult to keep people separated. But I think that is part of the appeal as well. This was an organization so well put together that most of the people in the camp were part of it in one way or another and yet they could never be completely discovered. T ...more
These men were so ingenious, and their spirit and bravery were fantastic. The devices and systems they put in place, using only the most unpromising raw materials, were staggering. Perhaps most impressive was their ability to organise even in the face of overwhelming difficulties, and thus to make use of every ounce of potential available to them - whether in Klim tins or in the men themselves. At the same time, the reader shares the sad wish of those left behind that they hadn't bothered, had s ...more
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, history
The movie adaptation of this book does a great job capturing the spirit, adventure and grim reality of what these men lived through. The book does provide more detail.
Steve Shilstone
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredible. The skills. The detail. The inventiveness. The doggedness. The secrecy. The patience. The thoroughness. The setbacks.
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Well written and thrilling, this tells the true story of prisoners in Stalag Luft III and their 100th attempt to escape. Photos, drawings, maps, the related Hitler decrees and the post war trials are also included. I finished this book on January 27th, UN Holocaust Remembrance day.

While this book mostly glosses over the very difficult parts of prison life (I found myself picturing Hogan's Heroes too often), the details of the escape read like a thriller. It is also fairly short, and
Reet Champion
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gripping bittersweet tale of camaraderie in a World War II prisoner-of-war camp, "The Great Escape" is a story not to be missed. The book itself is written by one of the men (Paul Brickhill) who took part in the escape operations. Brickhill introduces the readers to a number of other men of Luft Stalag III, captors and prisoners. His recounting of dialogue between prisoners is often crude, but the story is nonetheless stirring. Brickhill makes you feel like you're "one of the guys".

Aug 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
Most every man of my generation who grew up in the US knows the story, thanks to the excellent movie of the same title. Compared to the book, which seems very truthful, the movie takes a few liberties; the book says nothing about a thrilling chase of an escaped prisoner on a motorcycle, for instance. The book is dry compared to a well-written novel, but everything in the book actually happened. The amazing ingenuity of the prisoners' escape preparations is the centerpiece of the story; the escap ...more
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was really interesting. There were times when it could have been written better, and I found it hard to figure out who was who at the beginning, but it got better later. The story was well told, and it was a cool one at that. Although it was less about characters and more about plot, I was still sad when (view spoiler). The drawings helped me understand well, although the way it was written gave m ...more
Lee Ann
Jun 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Wow! What an incredible story. This fills out the gaps in the movie. The escape parts were great but there's not enough personal info. It was hard to keep the actors straight. There's not enough detail on most of them to make them exist as individuals. PB was better on the mechanics of the escape itself. They tunneled through almost 200 feet of sand, shored up the tunnel with scrap from the huts, survived cave-ins, hid tons of sand, and ran a professional forgery ring. Jaw-dropping. There was al ...more
This is the basis for the fabulously wonderful movie of the same name starring Steve McQueen.n The movie is an all-time family favorite and a true story so having seen it many times, I wasn't sure the book could bring enough additional information to keep me interested which, of course, was not a issue at all. Filled with numerous additional details, I truly enjoyed discovering more depth and details about the bravery and ingenuity of the characters that I have come to love through the years. Hi ...more
Aug 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
I've seen The Great Escape many times and it remains one of my favorite war movies of all time. This book, written by one of the POW's in Stalag Luft III who participated in the events, is the story on which the movie is based. It goes into more detail than the movie did about the ingenious ways that the prisoners were able to fool the guards and coordinate and prepare for the escape. It's a fun read and, if you are a fan of WWII stories, this one is highly recommended (even if you have already ...more
Jim B
Mar 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Read by Robert Whitfield.

History of World War II escape attempts, mainly from one German prison camp for US and British Air Force officers. The amount of knowledge and expertize possess by this group of prisoners was stunning and probably a tribute to British schools.

The book gives a more nuanced view of the Germans, showing kind, thoughtful men as well as the criminal class.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've seen this movie multiple times and had no idea it was a book. The whole time you are reading this you just keep thinking "I can't believe they really did that!" The soldiers of World War II were incredibly brave and selfless and this was a great reminder of all they did for this country, both seen and unseen.
Peter Wolfley
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those works where the movie and book are equally fantastic. The level of ingenuity and team work is inspiring to me. The book was surprisingly funny as well. It is well worth buying for our family library.
Loren Smith
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great story! I love WWII history, and this was a fun read. I also really enjoy the movie, and the book didn't disappoint. If you are looking for a European version of Unbreakable this is not it. If you are interested in a great historical POW story, this is a good one to read.
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
DNF. I just couldn't. It was so boring :(
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From Rosetta Books:

Though The Great Escape is a novel, its basic story is true, and the novel's author Paul Brickhill (1916-91) was a participant in it. Brickhill, an Australian, had flown missions against the Germans in Tunisia for the Royal Australian Air Force when he was shot down in 1943. Locked away and bored in Silesia in Luft Stalag III, he and his fellow prisoners concocted an escap
“Funny people, the Germans. When you got them in a bunch they were all Nazis (they had to be), but when you got the little people by themselves and worked on them for a while they didn't have any morale underneath. Inside they seemed naked and defenceless.” 3 likes
“The British obviously overlooked the fact that an American only has to be sold on the idea that his cause is just and he is capable of anything.” 3 likes
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