From the stiff upper lip of Alec Guinness in The Bridge on the River Kwai to the cunning opportunism of Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, Hollywood has given us enduring images of prisoners of war in World War II. And yet, in this groundbreaking work of social history, Midge Gillies shows that the real-life experiences of nearly half a million captive Allied servicemen were infinitely more extraordinary. Gillies, a freelance journalist and the author of Waiting for Hitler, is herself the daughter of a wartime POW. She shows how these men responded to the tedium or brutality of their captivity by staging shows, concerts, and sporting events; taking up crafts and pastimes using scavenged materials; writing books and publishing magazines; and even improvising surgical techniques that saved numerous lives among their fellows.
"Midge Gillies has tackled a colossal subject with calm professionalism and a lightness of touch which makes it a great joy to read. An outstanding piece of scholarship which is as readable as it is informative."—BBC History Magazine