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This is a tale of incredible fortitude and nerves of steel. This book takes you through Airey Neave's capture in 1940, his transit through various POW camps and his escape attempts. These escapes landed him in the infamous Colditz camp, supposedly escape proof. He describes his failed escape attempts from here until the big one when he escapes with Luteyn, a Dutch prisoner. Their journey towards Switzerland is nerve wracking, even to read. Sharing train compartments with SS officers, suspicious locals, relying on forged papers, it must have been torture. Even when they made it into Switzerland they weren't safe, they still had to travel through France down to the Pyrenees, over to Spain, then Gibraltar and then home. Years later he was appointed as a legal officer during the Nuremberg trials, he saw the worst of Hitler's henchmen in their cells. The brutal end to Airey's life at the hands of IRA terrorists in London decades later is all the more tragic considering what he went through. You must read this book.
Excellent book,well written. I first heard of airey neave when i was stil at school and the ira killed him. My grandfather told me he was the first british officer to escape colditz ( then a popular tv series) I have read about him in books about colditz but this is the complete story of his escape. The book carries you right through Switzerland france and spain then to england. The gem in this book tells you what happened to escapers when they got back home, not usually in other escape books ive read. Airey's writing is serious and doesn't contain the humour that you get in some of these books. This is not a bad thing as it shows that airey didnt see escaping as a sport. Thoroughly enjoyed this book
I have read quite a few books about Colditz, lived in Germany for a long time, and went to Schloss Colditz, and have the greatest respect for Airey Neave and all that he achieved.
Some of the recollections of his meeting before the Nuremburg trials were very interesting but the general writing and the description of his escape are very poor. When read, they should like the writings of an early teenage boy that have been reading too many poorly written turn of the century novels. Neave is extremely bias and negative in all his dealings with Germans which poorly slants the book away from real life observations. It is very scant in detail, and seems to jump around a fair bit.
If you want to read this book as an "off it's time" book about the experiences of an Army officer, then read it. If you want a book about the facts/life/stories of the men and escapades at Colditz, I would suggest that you look elsewhere.
I first read this as an adolescent in the postwar era of black and white british war films celebrating perceived national characteristics of stiff upper-lip resourcefulness. To read it now is to be made aware of a wider context. I had no memory of how Neave sets the narrative in the context of his participation in the Nuremberg trials. Also to read this now , aware of his subsequent political career and assassination, and it provides a helpful element in understanding of the evolution of 'British Values'
I remember Airey Neave so well. Here was an extremely brave man, who life was 'snuffed' out all too soon and in the most horrible way by cowardly 'assassins so long ago.. His exploits in this book were just wonderful to behold. A man whose bravery, intelligence and fortitude were something to behold. His story is well written and well worth a read. His journey to reach a safe haven was, without doubt full of courage and strength.I have nothing but admiration for Mr Neave. Please read this book.
The book says it all about the determination of Airey Neave and his comrades to escape as POW during the Second World War under the Nazi regime and his eventual escape. On reading my thoughts kept on returning to how the scourge Naziasm was ever forgiven or forgotten. But of course that is another story and a lesson in history I suppose. A good read
Without vanity, this story illustrates the indomitable spirit which motivated escaping prisoners of war in WW2. The author, although from an upper middle class background, humbly recognises the courage and bravery shown by people from all walks of life, who were willing to risk their own lives for the sake of others. Having himself successfully made the 'Home Run' from Colditz. and having experienced of the brutality of the Nazi regime, it is interesting to read his non-judgemental observations on the war criminals whom he met in an official capacity at the Nurnberg Trials.
Given the original was written in 1953 this holds up very well. What is most interesting is, after his escape from Colditz, the journey home and the people he met, especially at the Nuremburg trials. A tragic loss when he was killed.
What a fascinating life Mr Neave lived prior to being assassinated by the usual cowardly IRA bomb as he left the House of Commons. I wanted this book to continue into Mr Neave's life immediately after the war where he delivered the summons to all the defendants at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trial in Germany. However he does give us a sneak preview into the ghastly minds of these Nazi monsters. But Airey Neave did write another book about just these events and I shall read it again, when I can find it that is. In the meantime a very good book, written very well, by a brave and exceptional man.