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The Grand Escape was about a group of British prisoners during World War One, who after many failed escape attempts, were transferred to the dreaded camp Holzminden. There, they face many challenges, such as severe malnourishment, boredom, and an unstable commandant named Karl Niemeyer. They create an elaborate escape plan, but are constantly in fear of discovery of the plan, as many new prisoners had a hard time closing their mouths and some prisoners traded information for comforts and extra food. Finally, after many months of preparation, the day comes where they can make their escape, but how many will be able to make the 150 mile journey to Holland while avoiding capture?
I thought this book was very well written, as it gave the background and prison experiences of many different British Army members. It also told of a story that most people don’t know of, because most stories about escaping prison camps are written in respect to World War Two. The way this book described the setting made me, as the reader, feel like I could see the events unfold through my own eyes. I also found it intriguing, but comforting, that the original group of British prisoners in the first camp all met again at Holzminden after circulating through many other camps by themselves.
Something memorable about the book is how it teaches the lesson of perseverance. The prisoners had many, many failed escape attempts, but that didn’t deter them from trying again and again until finally they escaped, or made their way back to England through a prisoner exchange or at the end of the war.
Reviewed by Pulkit I., Twin Hickory Library