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A GALLANT COMPANYThe Men of the Great EscapeJonathan F. VanceOn the night of March 2425, 1944, seventy-nine Allied airmen clambered through a tunnel at Stalag Luft III in eastern Germany in the final act of what history and Hollywood have dubbed The Great Escape. The culmination of more than four years of toil, triumph, and heartbreak, the escape was intended to cause as much disruption as possible in Hitler's Europe. In this, the escapers succeeded beyond their wildest expectations, but the escape sent shockwaves through the German high command that were to have tragic consequences. This is the story of that remarkable battle to escape from captivity. Built around a cast of colorful and engaging characters from every corner of the world, it describes their ongoing struggle to outwit their captors, the growing sophistication of their escape attempts, and their ambitious plan to construct three huge escape tunnels and scatter hundreds of airmen across occupied Europe. It is a tale of ingenuity, perseverance, and courage, and a testament to what ordinary men can achieve in extraordinary circumstances. Jonathan F. Vance became interested in The Great Escape while a teenager, and spent more than twenty years collecting information on the subject and interviewing survivors, escape organizers, and relatives of The Fifty. He has published many books and articles on POWs and escaping, and has also written on other aspects of military history. His book Death So Noble: Memory, Meaning and the First World War won most of the major awards for Canadian historical writing in 1997. Vance is an associate professor of history at the University of Western Ontario, and lives in London, Ontario, with his wife and two children.

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