The Great Escape: A Canadian Story – Ted Barris

the-great-escapeOn the Cover: On the night of March 24, 1944, 80 Commonwealth airmen crawled through a 336-foot-long tunnel and slipped into the forest beyond the wire of Stalag Luft III, a German POW compound near Sagan, Poland. The event became known as “The Great Escape,” an intricate breakout more than a year in the making, involving as many as 2,000 POWs working with extraordinary co-ordination, intelligence, and daring. Yet within a few days, all but three of the escapees were recaptured. Subsequently, fifty were murdered, cremated, and buried in a remote corner of the prison camp.

But most don’t know the real story behind The Great Escape. Now, on the eve of its 70th anniversary, Ted Barris writes of the key players in the escape attempt, those who got away, those who didn’t, and their families at home. Barris marshals groundbreaking research into a compelling firsthand account. For the first time, “The Great Escape: A Canadian Story” retells one of the most astonishing episodes in WWII directly through the eyes of those who experienced it.

Published: 2012

 


 

The Review:

The Great Escape: A Canadian Story takes an in-depth look at the Canadian role in the events of March 24, 1944. Yet what I found interesting about this book is that it is so much more than the Great Escape. The book covers time before the war, including brief histories on many of the key players and the events leading up to the men becoming prisoners of war. The book also follows those POWs past the Great Escape, through the end of the war and their tiring journey home. In between lies a gold mine of information, illuminating the life of a POW, activities in the compound, and the dozens of ingenious ways that POWs refurbished, retooled, and reengineered their surroundings to make life bearable and escape possible.

The opening chapters of the book provide a substantial amount of information. POW names, ranks, flight squadrons, and histories of Canadian roots all blur together. What surfaces from this deluge are individual stories of flight crews evacuating flaming bombers, stunning moments of men throwing themselves into the air or attempting to land their aircraft in any survivable way. Through the progression of the book, individual names begin to stand out, and by the end the book feels exactly as it should: like prisoners of war sitting with me and telling me their stories in their own voice.

This book is incredibly well researched, and I learned a great deal from the information contained within its pages. Barris is a champion for Canadian POWs and strives to tell their story with the greatest amount of respect and awe. The Great Escape: A Canadian Story is a humbling reading experience for Canadians and a wonderful historical resource for all.

Rating: 4 / 5

 

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Eye of the Labyrinth – Jennifer Fallon

eye-of-the-labyrinthOn the Cover: Since the Age of Shadows ended, the people of Ranadon have lived under the merciless heat of two suns and the tyranny of Antonov, the Lion of Senet. Consumed by his lust for power and his unshakable belief in the capricious, almighty Goddess, Antonov’s rule is absolute. Only one man has the intelligence and will to break that hold… a man who could be King.

Suddenly widowed, Morna Provin, Duchess of Elcast, has lost her only protector. With her son banished for an unspeakable crime, she faces a horrifying fate at the hands of the Lion of Senet as retribution for her relationship with the heretic Johan Thorn. But it is only part of a cunning scheme to lure her son, Dirk Provin, back into the fold so Antonov can consolidate his power once and for all.

With his mother’s life at stake, Dirk Provin must emerge from hiding in the Baenlands and return to Elcast – setting in motion a rebellion that will expose long-buried secrets and ignite festering hatreds. For a ruler’s fears and a madman’s prophecy will start Dirk on a quest for truth that will spark a fierce battle between two very different men: one who believes only what his five senses tell him, the other obsessed by his faith in the divine. It is a clash that will bring to light a revelation that may shatter them all.

Published: 2004

Other Books in this Series:

Lion of Senet

 


 

The Review:

I totally appreciate Jennifer Fallon’s writing. The depth and vibrancy of the world she has created made it incredibly easy to step into this book despite how long it has been since I read the last one. This novel only serves to expand on what she presented within the first book, and with a wide array of characters, a rich landscape and deeply intriguing religious and political systems, Eye of the Labyrinth delivers on all levels.

The further I read in this book the more excited I got. Dirk Proven reaches the Labyrinth and between him and the Eye lays a path riddled with traps and puzzles. I absolutely loved the archeological feel of the adventure and the mystery of the puzzles, yet the solid foundation of religion and politics lent serious implications to the discoveries made in the Labyrinth.

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While I was disappointed that Dirk’s short time at the Labyrinth – I could have read an entire book that took place there – I was really impressed with this story. The novel does a great job of both expanding on the character story lines from the first novel while also paving the way into the final book. The book really builds up the plot and raises expectations for the conclusion in the third novel. I am looking forward to reading this next novel, and cannot wait for it to come in to the library so I can get my hands on it! Definitely check this one out if you are a fan of fantasy stories rich in political motivations and history told through puzzles.

Rating: 4 / 5

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