Prisoners of the Castle: An Epic Story of Survival and Escape from Colditz, the Nazis' Fortress Prison

Category: Book
By (author): Macintyre, Ben
Subject:  HISTORY / Military / General
  HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century
  NON-FICTION / General
  TRUE CRIME / Espionage
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Published: September 2022
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 368
Size: 9.51in x 6.41in x 1.28in
Our Price:
$ 36.00
Available to order

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*

From the bestselling author of The Spy and the Traitor, a definitive and surprising new narrative of one of history's most famous prisons--and the remarkable cast of POWs who tried to relentlessly escape their Nazi captors.

The myth of Colditz, the most infamous prison in history, has stood unchallenged for 70 years: prisoners of war, mustaches firmly set on stiff upper lips, defying the Nazis by tunnelling out of a grim Gothic castle on a German hilltop. Like all legends, that story contains only part of the truth. In Ben Macintyre's brilliant, cliche-smashing new history, he offers a vision of Colditz previously unimagined, a story of much more than an escape, just as the prison's inmates were far more complicated than the cardboard saints depicted in post-war pop culture.
Colditz was a miniature replica of office-class society at the time, only far stranger: a lethal, high stakes boarding school surrounded by barbed wire, initially containing prisoners of all Allied nations, including Canada, but eventually only Britons and Americans, a heavily guarded cage with its own culture, eccentricities, and internal tensions. In intimate and compelling detail, Macintyre explores what happens to people when they are locked up without committing a crime and with no idea when or if they might be liberated. Colditz, then, is a tale of the indomitable human spirit, but also one of snobbery, class conflict, hidden sexuality, bullying, espionage, boredom, insanity, and farce.
With access to declassified archives, private papers, and never-before-seen photos, the author reveals a remarkable cast of characters, previously hidden from history: Indian doctor Birendranath Mazymdar, the only non-white prisoner, whose ill-treatment, hunger-strike and eventual escape reads like fiction; Florimond Duke, America's oldest paratrooper and least successful secret agent; Christoper Clayton Hutton, the brilliant inventor employed by British intelligence to manufacture escape aids for POWs, from maps hidden in playing cards to a compass secreted inside a walnut; and many others. 
Bringing together the wartime intrigue of his acclaimed Operation Mincemeat and keen psychological portraits of his bestselling true-life spy stories, Macintyre has breathed stunning new life into one of the greatest war stories ever told.

Review Quote*

Praise for Prisoners of the Castle

"Riveting . . . This is another engrossing tale of WWII intrigue from a master of the genre."-Publishers Weekly

"A mixture of derring-do and a vivid, warts-and-all portrayal of the iconic castle."-Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Ben Macintyre

"John le Carré's nonfiction counterpart."-The New York Times

"Macintyre has a knack for finding the most fascinating story lines in history."-David Grann

"One of the most gifted espionage writers around."-Annie Jacobsen

"Macintyre is a supremely gifted storyteller. . . . His books are absurdly entertaining."-The Boston Globe

Biographical Note

BEN MACINTYRE is a writer-at-large for The Times (UK) and the bestselling author of Agent Sonya, The Spy and the Traitor, A Spy Among Friends, Double Cross, Operation Mincemeat, Agent Zigzag, and Rogue Heroes, among other books. Macintyre has also written and presented BBC documentaries of his work.