The Grand Escape: The Greatest Prison Breakout of the 20th Century

288p. bibliog. diag. index. maps. notes. photos. reprods. Scholastic Focus. Sept. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338140347.
Gr 8 Up—Bascomb presents the horrid conditions that prisoners of war at the notorious German prison camp Holzminden, run by the brutal Karl Niemeyer, experienced during World War I—and the band of men who were determined to break free. Their goal: to never get caught and do whatever it takes. They proved successful by digging a tunnel from this fortress prison through the foundation and out to freedom. The author carefully explains their extensive plans, bolstered by images and maps, and focuses on the science of the escape (milk used as invisible ink, makeshift bellows to provide fresh air into the tunnel) and how the men defied recapture. It is a tale of triumph that became a template for future prisoners of war, and Bascomb's heavy, well-cited research provides the information readers need. The dozens of names and intricate details occasionally slow down the narrative a bit, though the subject matter alone is compelling.
VERDICT A fantastic pick for avid history readers.
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