The War Behind the Wire: The Life, Death and Glory of British Prisoners of War, 1914-18 Hardcover – 30 Jan 2014
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(an) excellent study of British and colonial prisoners of war..... What makes The War Behind the Wire important, however is John Lewis-Stempel's destruction of two widely held beliefs. First, he reveals that some 90% of the 420 successful escapers were not elite officers. Second and even more importantly, Lewis-Stempel proves that the Germans were animated more by the Kriegsbrauch (which allowed for the killing of POWs), than by the humanitarian values of the Hague Convention... (Nathan M. Greenfield TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT)
[Lewis-Stempel] has performed a notable service by telling the story of the 1914-18's prisoners, a sad but significant epic. (Max Hastings SUNDAY TIMES)
Lewis-Stempel describes our prisoners as the lost men of the Great War... In writing this moving, harrowing account he has done them a noble service. (Richard Kemp THE TIMES)
During the First World War, the Germans held 171,299 British PoWs in often appalling conditions. Humour helped: "Hun-baiting" was popular. And 573 prisoners managed to escape- using methods including tunnelling and impersonation of German officers. (THE INDEPENDENT)
A vivid study of the lost heroes of the First World War: the British PoWs who made valiant bids for freedom. (THE SUNDAY TIMES)
...an entertaining read, and one characterised by the authenticity of the prisoners' own testimony. (Fiona Reid BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE)
The author's enthralling narrative describes the new horror of the First World War as well as any account from the frontliners. (Louis Rive MILITARY HISTORY MAGAZINE)
Lewis-Stempel's book is fantastically well-written, thoroughly researched and full of surprising facts. (Christ Short HISTORY OF WAR MAGAZINE)
Stempel recreated life behind the wire for British servicemen, looking at how they kept their sanity, maintained their health, and sought to survive an often very grim existence. Readable and absorbing. (GOOD BOOK GUIDE)
The last untold story of the First World War: the fortunes and fates of 170,000 British soldiers captured by the enemy.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
In this book he uses diaries, letters and poems to demonstrate the indomitable spirit of British PoWs. Morale for the majority was maintained despite the at time harsh conditions in the camps. The prisoners tried to escape,and carried on a constant war against their guards. Many suffered torture, starvation (our blockade of course meant food was short for all) and many other horrors. Shootings were not uncommon. Around 30% of those captured were wounded.
As bad as conditions were they never matched those suffered by Russians. The number of Russian prisoners overwhelmed German plans such as they were for looking after PoWs. Some 100000 were imprisoned after the battle of Tannenberg alone.
Officially, some 11147 British PoWs died in captivity. Stempel says thousands more were worked to death as slaves. He quotes Sgt Parsons of the Rifle Brigade as saying ' I would never be taken prisoner again'.
Sadly, in the plethora of books on the war these men seldom receive a mention. Stempel has filled the gap admirably. A word of caution, there are at least 7 other books with almost identical titles. Several deal with PoWs in WW2.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A good history of a period usually overshadowed by WW2.Published 6 months ago by Mr. Grant Donaldson
Very impressive and powerful read about an aspect of the First World War that has often been overlooked. Read morePublished 16 months ago by John St Alphonse
Christmas present. Haven`t read it yet but a book about POW`s in the first world war was different to other books on the subject. Read morePublished 17 months ago by ricochet
fTthis was a gift for my husband who cannot get enough First World War books. He really enjoyed itPublished 18 months ago by sheila lucey
This book covers an area of the 1st World War, which receives very little coverage. It is wonderfully researched and well written. Read morePublished on 18 Jun. 2014 by Bluesman 57
A good documentary describing the difficult and unpleasant life as a prisoner of war. the released surviving prisoners would not talk about their experiences and so it is... Read morePublished on 11 Jun. 2014 by Bernard Dunn
Very good read - not often told (about the evil Prisoner of War camps in Germany) in this detail. I am amazed that anyone survived the brutal treatment meted out on the English... Read morePublished on 22 May 2014 by Mr. N. B. Hodson
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