Thursday, April 7, 2011
A Great Escape
I'm easily lured in by stories of heroic escapes. But I've had to pace myself.
1. The Long Walk, Slavomir Rawicz (1984). This ranks as my number one escape story. A Polish Army officer captured by the Soviets in 1939 when Poland was carved in two with Germany. Rawicz was sent to far eastern Siberia where he and six others, including one American escaped into the winter snows. In one year the group walked thousands of miles across Siberia, the Gobi Desert, and the Himalayas. The story was recently released as the movie, The Way Home. In the last few years there has been some question about the authenticity of the story. Even so, the story may be a composite of others. A similar book, not on my shelf but on my wish list is the story of German soldier sent to Siberia, As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Escape from a Siberian Labor Camp and His 3-year Trek to Freedom by Josef Martin Bauer.
2. Evader: The Epic Story of the First British Airman to be Rescued by the Comet Escape Line in World War II, Derek Shuff (2003). In the to-read pile. Purchased new.
3. The Freedom Line: The Brave Men and Women Who Rescued Allied Airmen from the Nazis During World War II, Peter Eisne (2004). The story of the "Comet Line" which stretched from Belgium to Spain. True heroes of the allies -- many young women -- who risked torture, imprisonment and execution to save hundreds of American and British airman shot down over Nazi occupied territory. Gave me a new appreciation of the resistance against the Nazis.
4. Home From Siberia: The Secret Odysseys of Interned American Airman in World War II, Otis Hays, Jr. (1990). Very little known story of American bomber crews who landed in the Soviet Union after raids on Japan. This included raiders from Jimmy Doolittle's mission and continued through the war. The Soviet Union was a neutral in our war with Japan and to keep its neutral status interned them Americans. The US, through diplomatic channels, helped the aircrews in making their "escape" from Soviet territory.
5. We Die Alone, David Howarth (1955). A story of extreme endurance in the harsh Norwegian wilderness. One man against the German Army. Columnist David Brooks recently referenced this book as part of the Norwegian national character. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/02/opinion/02brooks.html
6. You'll Die in Singapore: The True Account of One of the Most Amazing POW Escapes in WWII, Charles McCormack (1956). Number two on my escape rankings. Weakened by hunger, thirst and ill-treatment, Charles McCormac, a World War II prisoner-of-war in Japanese-occupied Singapore, saw many of his comrades killed by their Japanese captors. With sixteen others he broke out of Pasir Panjang camp and began the two-thousand-mile escape from Singapore to Australia. First edition, bought used at the State Department book store.
7. The War Journal of Major Damon "Rocky" Gause: The Firsthand Account of One of the Greatest Escape of World War II, Damon "Rocky" Gause (1999). Major Damon escaped from Japanese occupied Philippines with the help of an extensive network of friendly guerrilla forces. He used a National Geographic map of the area to help him navigate to Australia. Bought new.
8. Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10, Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson (2007). Best selling account of a Seal Team in Afghanistan. Bought new.
9. The Last Escape: The Untold Story of Allied Prisoners of War in Germany 1944-45, John Nicol & Tony Rennel (2002). In to-read pile. Bought used Warrenton Library Bookstore.