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William's Book Blog

Mostly book reviews.  Very rarely I'll allow William Campbell Powell (author) to write a blog entry on publishing activity, but he's under orders to keep that stuff over on his Facebook page and on http://williamcampbellpowell.com

Currently reading

Fonda Lee
Fonda Lee
Anansi Boys
Neil Gaiman
Zombie Elementary: The Real Story
Howard Whitehouse
Progress: 99 %
The Angel's Game (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #2)
Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Progress: 6/504 pages
The Longest Week: What Really Happened During Jesus' Final Days
Nick Page
Progress: 43/310 pages

The Great Escaper: The Life and Death of Roger Bushell: Love, Betrayal, Big X and The Great Escape

The Great Escaper - Simon Pearson I've been waiting for someone to write this book for forty-plus years, and Pearson's book does not disappoint.

Inevitably it covers much of the same ground as the three books that - to my mind - introduced Roger Bushell to my/Pearson's generation. Pearson openly acknowledges his debt to those books - The Great Escape (Paul Brickhill), 'Wings' Day (Sidney Smith) and Escape From Germany (Aidan Crawley). But in these books - great as they are - Bushell appears in his final form, a lion already caged, with little information of what formed this great, but arguably flawed leader of men.

Pearson's great achievement is that he shows the making of the man, through the words of those who knew him. Pearson admits that luck played a part - doors opened for him to meet a few survivors of the Great Escape, and at a time when the family was making Bushell's papers available.

It is a scholarly work, with 15-20% devoted to a thorough bibliography and cross-reference to his sources. At the same time, it is a thoroughly readable story, too, capturing the moods of the man through the letters he wrote, and revealing much that was not known (or could not be published) at the time of those earlier books. In that vein, I'd particularly commend the research into Bushell's time in Prague, sheltered by Czech Resistance, as being pivotal in bringing new insight into the man, and the events that moulded Bushell into his final form - the Bushell of the Great Escape.

If you ever read PoW tales, then you'll have got a glimpse of Bushell and wanted to know more. For more than sixty years Bushell's life story was begging to be told, and now it has been.

Go read it.