The War Behind the Wire The Life, Death and Glory of British Prisoners of War, 1914-18

by John Lewis-Stempel

Biography / Autobiography History

The War Behind the Wire The Life, Death and Glory of British Prisoners of War, 1914-18 Synopsis

On capture, British officers and men were routinely told by the Germans 'For you the war is over'. Nothing could be further from the truth. British Prisoners of War merely exchanged one barbed-wire battleground for another. In the camps the war was eternal. There was the war against the German military, fought with everything from taunting humour to outright sabotage, with a literal spanner put in the works of the factories and salt mines prisoners were forced to slave in. British PoWs also fought a valiant war against the conditions in which they were mired. They battled starvation, disease, Prussian cruelties, boredom, and their own inner demons. And, of course, they escaped. Then escaped again. No less than 29 officers at Holzminden camp in 1918 burrowed their way out via a tunnel (dug with a chisel and trowel) in the Great Escape of the Great War. It was war with heart-breaking consequences; more than 12,000 PoWs died, many of them murdered, to buried in shallow unmarked graves. Using contemporary records - from prisoners' diaries to letters home to poetry - John Lewis-Stempel reveals the death, life and, above all, the glory of Britain's warriors behind the wire. For it was in the PoW camps, far from the blasted trenches, that the true spirit of the Tommy was exemplified.

The War Behind the Wire The Life, Death and Glory of British Prisoners of War, 1914-18 Press Reviews

'[Lewis-Stempel] has performed a notable service by telling the story of 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 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.' -- Chris Short HISTORY OF WAR MAGAZINE

 

'Stempel recreates 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

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780297608080
Publication date: 30/01/2014
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780297608080
Publication date: 30th January 2014
Author: John Lewis-Stempel
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co
Format: Hardback
Genres: Biography / Autobiography, History,
Categories:

About John Lewis-Stempel

John Lewis-Stempel is a historian and author who has written on a variety of subjects from the Native Americans to his experiences of fatherhood, but who is predominantly known for his work as a military historian and nature lover. He lives in Herefordshire, where his family has lived for over 700 years, with his wife and children. 

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