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4.7 out of 5 stars17
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 16 August 2001
Anybody interested in escape, or the second world war, or POW's should get this. My uncle was a POW and the few stories he told me over the years got me hooked. I've read lots of them and this is one of, if not THE, best. Not biased. Viewed from both sides (Allies and German) it is factual (as far as I know!) humourous and entertaining. Even how MI9 helped the POW's. I'd recommend it to anyone.
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on 22 June 2002
Having seen the program recently on channel 4, I saught out to buy the book and I was not disappointed. In other war books such as the brilliant great escape there is an overbearing feeling of dread because it is well known 50 of the escapees of Stalag luft III were shot - however this is not always so in the book of Colditz because although people were killed, the general feeling of friendship and adversity in the face of danger is much more apparent. There are some moments of humour mixed in with moments of despair which all in all make this a very compelling read, one which I would highly recommend.
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on 10 September 2004
This one will have the midnight oil burning !! This is a genuine cant put down book that takes you through the history of Colditz and the POW's who made it their home for various length's of time. The author is not afraid to double back chronologicaly on himself at times. This does not detract from the story telling ,but enhances it by throwing up familier names and incidents already mentioned. All in all an excellent unbiased account of times at Colditz.
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on 12 September 2013
Despite the book's subtitle, "The Definitive History", the introduction states, "no book about Colditz can ever be truly definitive". Tsk tsk, silly publishers.

The introduction also says that the main point of the book is to portray what life was like inside Colditz and that it isn't simply a blow-by-blow account of all the escape attempts.

Well.... the escape attempts are certainly the focus of the book and why not? That's what we all want to read about anyway and most of them were pretty remarkable. The ingenuity of the prisoners was extraordinary and the story of each individual escape attempt would be worthy of an episode of CSI or some such (not that I've ever watched CSI, mind).

Don't worry, there is plenty about life in general within Colditz too. I have to admit there is an element of Dad's Army about it all because Colditz was a place like no other within Germany at the time. It seems to have existed largely in a vacuum with the horrors that were taking place in the rest of German-controlled Europe rarely impacting upon Colditz directly at least until the latter stages of the war. So many of the escape attempts and other goings have a certain slapstick-like quality to them that is quite amusing.

A riveting story and a great book.
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on 5 April 2007
This book is fantastic from start to finish and you will be hard pushed to put it down.... All I can say is that if you are interested in finding out about Colditz Castle and the men who were imprisioned there, this is the book to read.
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on 26 October 2002
Chancellor takes a broader view of Colditz than Pat Reid, a historian's-eye-view rather than that of a successfully-departed inhabitant, and his account fills in a lot of background that Reid didn't descvribe, particularly about the levels of cooperation and collaboration between prisoners and guards, the class and social divisions between and pessures on the prisoners, and the high-level political games in which the Castle was a pawn at the end of the War.
Somewhat like Reid's "Colditz: The Full Story" with a slightly less stiff upper lip; Chancellor is unafraid to pooint out character failings of the prisoners....
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on 24 April 2015
I find this book an amazing read because it has so much depth and yet it is not dry or technical. Even my wife who shows no interest in Colditz is interested to read it. Don't be put off by the link to the Channel 4 program. It isn't really that at all. The link is there because this book is written as a response to the large amount of .material, interviews etc that were gathered to make the program. I shall keep it next to Pat Reids books which I treasure. Buy it!
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Having visited Colditz to read this book brings alive the castle. The author knows their story well. This is a superbly written account. Reads like a novel but amazingly it is true. A great book about brave people.
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on 10 November 2007
I read this whilst ata conference that I didn't want to be at, and it fitted the mood perfectly as I considered the situation those in Colditz faced, year after year. I also thought, "not another book about Colditz", but this probably is the definitive history of a POW camp that found an almost romantic obsession especially in the early 1970's when holiday camps were offered complete with guards to stop the "holiday-makers" escaping during the week. All that came on the back of a TV series which ran and ran.So is this book, but with less propoganda and a refreshing nod in the direction of the other nationalities there, not only the British, whose later published accounts portrayed them as the great escapers. This account shows otherwise. It is slanted that way because Pat Reid, escape committee chairman for the British chose his account from the year 1942, whereas the French had already had greater escape successes in the years before that.
!942 was, it turns out, the boon year for escaping from Colditz, and all the relevant statistics are laid out here nicely. The stories of the indivuals who attemted to escape are also treated in a balanced way, as are those of the guards, not least taht of Priem, who started the escape museum from artifacts and clothing used in the failed attempts. He also photographed reconstructions of the escapes, immediately after the attempt using the actual culprits as models, and some of these photos are included.
Studies on the lives of the arch "goon-baiter" who recieved 5 court-marshalls and nearly a year in slitary, Mike Sinclair, impersonator of "Franz-Josef" with his red hair and home-made moustache, Pat Reid and his successful trip to Switzerland and of course the men who built a gilder in the loft. The account of producing moonshine alcohol to relieve the boredom, along with other pursuits provide a feel for the desparation felt there. Most Colditz stories remain within the castle walls, but this one gets to the bottom of how records containing maps of Germany were introduced to the in-mates via red-cross parcels (a brief history of MI9) or the Gestapo man who gave away the secrets of which trains required passes on the way to the Swiss border, and finally the whole political set-up of the neutral Swiss Government's requirement to look after the inmates, to the extent that the prisoners were better fed than the (nearly as numerous) German guards by the end of the war. Even motre amazing is the story of the Czech officer who managed to have a girl friend in the local town, who managed regular contact and recieved invaluable information from her Nazi-party member father. All these stories show the community that Padre Rev.Platt oversaw and build up with moral and spiritual support, and faithfully recorded in his diary throughout the years there
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on 9 March 2002
i have watched the film colditz many times and even though the comparison was obviously darker in real life there were quite a few scenes which reflected the true facts. i loved this book.in fact even when i had finished reading the book i still wanted more.a definate must buy in my opinion whether you have seen the film/think you know everything about the colditz story.
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