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The Escaping Club by Alfred John Evans

The Escaping Club (1922)

by Alfred John Evans

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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The Escaping Club (1922) is one of many POW escape memoirs that appeared in the years immediately following the Great War. It is among a handful that are (or were) considered "classic" in the genre, or at least very popular at the time. Today most of these books are forgotten, hardly competing with the thrilling stories of WWII (The Great Escape, No Picnic on Mt Kenya). However, WWII soldiers were aware of the older generation, having grown up with the stories of escape, so these early books were influential in setting the stage and establishing tropes and expectations that are still familiar today. The bumbling German guard impotently wags a reproachful finger at the precocious prisoners; the stern camp commander who is over his head and looses his temper; the trickster prisoners escape and are re-caught with little repercussion as they receive food in the mail from home complete with maps baked into cakes and compasses in pickled prunes. Many of the core elements would be familiar to anyone who watches Hogan's Heroes, except a different war.

My favorite part is the 10 days in which Evans and friend clandestinely made their way south across Germany to the border with Switzerland. This is his best writing as he describes the beautiful but dangerous German countryside. Sleeping during the day in forests and traveling by night they skirt villages and avoid encounters with people while supplies of food dwindle.

Unfortunately Evans ruined his chance at immortality by espousing some racist views towards the end of the book while being held prisoner by the Turks in Syria. Perhaps someone will eventually rescue it for the modern reader by retelling it from a new perspective, there's a good story here though uneven. ( )
1 vote Stbalbach | Feb 26, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Evans, Alfred Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weiss, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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