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The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  324 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Neal Bascomb, New York Times best-selling author, delivers the spellbinding story of the downed Allied airmen who masterminded the remarkably courageous--and ingenious--breakout from Germany's most devilish POW camp

In the winter trenches and flak-filled skies of World War I, soldiers and pilots alike might avoid death, only to find themselves imprisoned in Germany's archi
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Joe It looks like The Grand Escape was written for teens and this one was written for adults. This book is about 90 pages longer than The Grand Escape.

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Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Stone Walls do not a Prison make. Nor Iron bars a Cage.

You are a beloved hero, adored and respected on one side of the fence/wall, and you are a villain, hated and tortured on the other side...

Your face is idolized on one side and you are beheaded on the other...

Strange and weird are the ways we, humans, create divide and hate among ourselves!

This thoroughly researched and well written collection of World War I breakout memoirs is about the struggles, hardships, adventures, determination, perse
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A riveting story is about prisoners of WW1 and the efforts/commitments they made upon being captured to try to escape from the German prison camps.

One of the fascinating things learned in the book was the reciprocal agreement between the Germans and the allied troops (primarily English) that if an officer was caught trying to escape, he would just be assigned to another prison camp, unlike the enlisted who were summarily executed. Fascinating stories surrounding the “escape artists” and their b
Sherwood Smith
An extremely well-researched account of escape attempts (both successful and unsuccessful) by British soldiers during WW I.

As most of these were pilots, readers get a vivid account of what life was like for those early pilots, as warfare made its shift skyward. The attrition rate was as terrible as it became in QQ II, but these guys still were willing to risk it. Some even relished the risk.

They brought the same attitude toward trying to escape, though conditions in prisoner of war camps were a
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Escape Artists can easily be envisioned as ready for the big screen. The author builds up the story with painstakingly researched details of the fliers lives before the war, while imprisoned, and afterwards, including the reunions decades later. This book joins Bascomb’s other great pieces of wartime nonfiction, and rivals Hampton Sides’s Ghost Soldiers as one of the best accounts of POW escape.

For my full review:

For all my reviews: http://paulspicks
Bonnye Reed
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
GNAB This is a excellent history of the POW situation in Germany in the First World War, and the intrepid pilots and air crews who did their all to escape and get back into the planes that would win the war. I found it very enlightening and even entertaining at times, with never a dull moment. We forget, in this day and age, just how fragile were the planes in the early twentieth century, and how nasty that war got before it was over. The Geneva Convention was just a name as far as Germany was c ...more
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bascomb is one of my favorites. This is an exceptional WWI thriller that tells the story of British POWs and their exploits trying to escape captivity. As is the case with the author's previous works, there is exceptional quality research and prose that read like good fiction. Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the Advanced Copy
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading "The Escape Artists" by Neal Boscomb. It was and interesting and engaging story I was unaware of set in WWI. I am so grateful when authors write these types of stories because a time will come when the memories of these events are completely erased and these books are all we will have left of such important events.

The story follows several British military men during WWI as they make several attempts to escape POW Camps in Germany. I wish I would've written down the main chara
Christopher Hayes
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was absolutely spellbinding. I read it in two days and found myself struggling to pull away. With superb editing and an extensive history of reasearch, Neal Bascomb was able to transport me to another time. The Escape Artists is a nonfiction account of prisoners of war held in Germany during World War One. This was a time when the gentlemanly agreements of the Hague and Geneva conventions were unenforceable, and prisoners were treated in grossly inhumaine fashion. The Escape Artists be ...more
Oct 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
3.5 stars if I could. This book is a great true story which could potentially be an even better movie.
Schuyler Wallace
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing

When you ‘re down and out and feeling blue (is that a song?), you need a book such as Neal Bascomb’s “The Escape Artists” to get you rejuvenated. It’s the story of heroes who never give up. The horrors of German prison camps are, once again, presented in miserable detail but there’s something different. There’s optimism, courage, ingenuity, persistence, and humor that overcome the bleakness experienced by most captives.

During the war the sky over Germany rained paper, wire, and wood as thousands
Ms. Yingling
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

World War I was a harrowing war, but is not covered as frequently as World War II. This is a shame, since there are so many facets of the war that have not been covered. For instance, I had forgotten that the Hague Conventions laid out very clear and extensive rules about how prisoners of war should be treated. During WWI, the Germans violated these on multiple occasions. The Grand Escape tells how prisoners at Holzminden were so mistreated that the plan
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs, non-fiction
I was lucky and got to read this and two other history books as advance copies, and The Grand Escape was definitely the best of them. Stories of history can be just as engrossing as a novel if the author "gets it" and Neal Bascomb "gets it". The book is really well written and the research is obviously deep, but doesn't come off as dry facts - instead it adds depth to the real-life characters and narrative. There's a lot to learn here, and it was neat to hear how this specific breakout influence ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked it. 4.5 stars -- wish they'd let us do that.

Why not 5? Having a hard time pinning it down and putting it in to words. It is just more of a feeling that it is a great book, certainly well worth the read, interesting and engaging and if you are at all familiar with later escapes say in WWII -- you will see where a lot of those lessons were learned (and later taught).

Alas, still can't give it that 5. But please do not let that detract you. This one is worth the time investment if you are at
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Meticulously and tirelessly researched and read by one of my favorite readers, Simon Vance, this finishes strong. It is also a book about escape-hungry men confined in a concentration camp with an obsessive commandant, who are further confined doggedly and relentlessly digging a long, narrow tunnel that eventually takes 29 of them to freedom--so a certain sameness and claustrophobia is built-in to the subject matter. Recommended for fans of do or die all-or-mostly-male historicals such as Steven ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-r-e-a-d
This had me on the edge of my seat, especially the last part as they made their way to the Dutch border. Written with great detail and thoroughly researched. Glad I picked it up to find out about these war heroes and their amazing escape.
Lisa Shultz
Nov 12, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was about POW prison camps in Germany during World War I. The escape attempts and the drive to keep trying even after re-capture and solitary confinement was amazing. The biggest attempt in which the end of the book focused, was interesting. I was a little bored and sometimes confused earlier in the book. The story would probably be a great movie. I finished reading it because I wanted the history lesson. Ironically, I finished it on November 11, exactly 100 years after the conclusion ...more
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read the book about the famous Great Escape of World War II from a German POW camp. However, I have never heard of the Great Escape of World War I until I read this book. This book was amazing and very interesting. British and other Allied pilots were being held in German POW camps. One of the POW camps was Holzminden, a landlocked Alcatraz that held Allied POW's who made several escape attempts from other prisons. The camp commandant was Karl Niemeyer. A group of Allied POW's led by Davi ...more
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully told and researched! Narrative non-fiction done so well as always with Bascomb and this is a story that was very new to me. The details of the plan and its execution is so well described that I almost felt as if I were digging and half suffocating with the plotters. Gripping and suspenseful, the action keeps the tale going while also providing plenty of historical and cultural background.

A fascinating read for young historians!
The Irregular Reader
So have you seen The Great Escape? The 1963 film is a virtual who’s-who of ’60s movie stardom (including Steve McQueen (yay!), James Coburn, Richard Attenborough, and James Garner). The movie is a dramatization of a real-life mass prison break from a Nazi prison camp during World War II. The Escape Artists tells the story of the men who laid the foundations of such escapes.

World War I brought warfare into a brutal, modern era. The trenches, the gas, the aerial dogfights were new and terrible rea
Jill Meyer
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Neal Bascomb is the author of many books about WW1, WW2, and other 20th century events. He's a superb author; writing about complicated history with an ease it's a pleasure to read. His new book, "The Escape Artists", is about British airmen and soldiers captured by the Germans in WW1 and sent to a hell-hole POW camp, Holzminden. The subtitle of the book is "A Band of Daredevil Pilots and Greatest Prison Break of the Great War", and that's what Bascomb concentrates his text on.

When I picked thi
 Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Jenn Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ
This is my first time reading Neal Bascomb and he offers so much of what I want in a book. I love historical novels, fiction or non-fiction, that are well researched and are well written. I enjoyed learning about aviation during WWI through the multiple story lines and rich character development. Will look for more books by Bascomb in the future. Thanks!
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
War is such a horrible thing—vicious, destructive, and despicable. It brings out the worst and the best in man. We see both in Neal Bascomb’s true recounting of the largest escape of WWI by the British at one time—twenty-nine officers of whom ten actually made it out of Germany to Holland without being recaptured.

Bascomb’s well-researched tale The Escape Artists is divided into four major sections. In the first, “Capture,” he provides a glimpse into the personalities and lives of some of the maj
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway.


British pilots of rudimentary airplanes are captured by Germans during WWI. As prisoners of war, they are shuffled to various prisons and subject to brutal conditions. Lack of food, clean water, adequate shelter, and cruelty on the part of the prisons’ commanders’ force many officers to plan elaborate escapes. These plans, if they fail, will yield corporal punishment, solitary confinement, military court martial, and possibly death.

Yet the P
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent history (that I received as an eARC from Netgalley) of a subject that is not that well represented in the history section - probably because it deals with WWI instead of WWII. Luckily ever since 2014 when the first WWI centennials were observed more and more information about WWI has been published and a new generation of readers are introduced to the terrible first world war, a war of such devastation it is sad that this wasn't the last world war. As in all wars, along wit ...more
Kathy Martin
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE GRAND ESCAPE details the people and events around a major prison break from Holzminden during World War I. It begins by giving the reader some background on the events that led up to World War I including the building of professional armies and diplomatic efforts that were either non-existent or ineffectual. It introduces the Hague Conventions that were supposed to legislate the ethical and humane treatment of Prisoners of War.

The British entered the war with enthusiasm and with the confiden
Tyler Bunting
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is everything you will need while you are about to read this amazing book. This book has suspense, and information that will surprise you! I mean this book has it all when you're looking for a good informational book to read. Make sure you get your hands on this book as soon as possible!
This is what you should expect when reading this amazing piece of literature.
This book follows military soldiers during World War 1 who have to endure terrible conditions at Holzminden right under the nos
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay wow, I have to admit, this book was super inspiring! I wasn't sure that I would enjoy it, because I just finished a narrative nonfiction book right before this one, and while it was good, it was a really hard read and very difficult to keep track of all the different historical characters, but Bascomb did a good job of introducing each figure, and then reminding us of who was who. I felt like I could relate to each escapee, and understood them and their drive. His narration of the German gu ...more
Read Ng
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
The Great Escape of the Great War.

An historic event that I was not aware of. This story reads closely along the lines of the WWII movie version, The Great Escape. But these events occurred in a different era and sense of honor than in WWII. Prisoners allowed parole walks outside of the fenced prison? Care packages from home that actually make it to the prisoners? It was a different world, vastly different than today's world.

I really like the glimpses of The Great War's era and peoples. How many
Alexa Hamilton
This book should not be called the grand escape, because it's the story of so many escapes and so many escape artists in German POW camps during WWI. I really had little idea what these camps were like, or most POW camps. The reality is stark and unpleasant, and not appropriate for how they were supposed to be treated. It's no wonder these intelligent and brave men cooked up scheme after scheme to get themselves out of the camps.

In this book, you'll get to know a lot of these really incredible,
Meag McKeron
The claustrophobia was real with this one (as it should be for a book about a group of men burrowing underground in order to escape a German POW camp). The resourcefulness and perseverance of the men who managed to escape Holzminden was beyond impressive -- whether they made it across the Dutch border or not. The author clearly did his research too - there were tons of primary sources and photographs to flesh out his story, and the included diagrams made it easier to understand the layout of the ...more
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Neal Bascomb is a national award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of a number of books, all non-fiction narratives, all focused on inspiring stories of adventure or achievement. His work has been translated into over 18 languages, featured in several documentaries, and optioned for major film and television projects.

Born in Colorado and raised in St. Louis, he is the product of public