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Cruel Crossing Escaping Hitler Across the Pyrenees by Edward Stourton

Cruel Crossing Escaping Hitler Across the Pyrenees

Biography / Autobiography   History   eBook Favourites   

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Every year people mark the courage and bravery of the people who guided refuges and escapes over the Pyrenees during WWII. Anyone can join the Chemin de la Liberte and Edward Stourton was one of them, reporting for a BBC Radio 4 series. The start of the route could be as far away as Belgium, each link in the chain reliant on the help of local people, it was sadly often undermined and infiltrated with torture, imprisonment and death the options facing those caught. Edward Stourton conveys both the greater picture of the War and the personal stories of those involved, meshing the two together in a detailed look at this amazing endeavour.

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Cruel Crossing Escaping Hitler Across the Pyrenees by Edward Stourton

The mountain paths are as treacherous as they are steep - the more so in the dark and in winter. Even for the fit the journey is a formidable challenge. Hundreds of those who climbed through the Pyrenees during the Second World War were malnourished and exhausted after weeks on the run hiding in barns and attics. Many never even reached the Spanish border. Today their bravery and endurance is commemorated each July by a trek along the Chemin de la Liberte - the toughest and most dangerous of wartime routes. From his fellow pilgrims Edward Stourton uncovers stories of midnight scrambles across rooftops and drops from speeding trains; burning Lancasters, doomed love affairs, horrific murder and astonishing heroism. The lives of the men, women and children who were drawn by the war to the Pyrenees often read as breathtakingly exciting adventure, but they were led against a background of intense fear, mounting persecution and appalling risk. Drawing on interviews with the few remaining survivors and the families of those who were there, Edward Stourton's vivid history of this little-known aspect of the Second World War is shocking, dramatic and intensely moving.


'This is a very shocking book. It recaptures the adventure and the horror as it brilliantly conjures up the voices of the past.' -- Jason Goodwin Country Life

'Charming but astute, Stourton captures not only the extraordinary courage of the escapers and the passeurs, or guides, who helped them, but the sense of danger and excitement as they evaded their pursuers.' -- Adrian Brewer The Tablet

'A moving retelling of some of the war's most heroic episodes'-- Nigel Jones Sunday Telegraph

About the Author

Edward Stourton is the author of six books. He is writer and presenter of several high-profile current-affairs programmes and documentaries for radio and television, and regularly presents BBC Radio Four programmes such as The World at One, The World This Weekend, Sunday and Analysis. He is a frequent contributor to the Today programme, where for ten years he was one of the main presenters.

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Book Info

Publication date

27th February 2014


Edward Stourton

More books by Edward Stourton
Author 'Like for Like'


Black Swan an imprint of Transworld Publishers Ltd


480 pages


Biography / Autobiography
eBook Favourites

Second World War
European history
20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000
Air forces & warfare



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