|About the Book|
Drawing on letters home, diaries, and interviews with redoubtable survivors now into their nineties, theamazing untold stories of what Allied prisoners really did in POW camps, and how the experiences changed theirlives.Feature films have created theMoreDrawing on letters home, diaries, and interviews with redoubtable survivors now into their nineties, the amazing untold stories of what Allied prisoners really did in POW camps, and how the experiences changed their lives.Feature films have created the stereotype of the World War II prisoner of war—the stiff-upper-lipped Alec Guinness in The Bridge on the River Kwai, or Steve McQueens cunning and opportunist in The Great Escape—but this groundbreaking work of social history shows that the true experiences of nearly half a million Allied servicemen held captive were nothing like the Hollywood myth- they were infinitely more extraordinary. Real POWs responded to the tedium of a German stalag or the brutality of a Japanese camp with the most amazing ingenuity and creativity—they staged glittering shows, concerts, and elaborate sporting events- took up crafts and pastimes using materials they found around them- wrote books and published magazines- and even improvised daring surgical techniques to save their fellow mens lives. Men studied, attended lectures, learned languages, and sat for exams on such a scale that one camp was nicknamed The Barbed Wire University. Often the years in captivity proved a turning-point in their lives, as the new interests and skills they took out of the camp enabled them to embark on a post-war career in which they would succeed at the highest level.