WWII was the setting for several stories of daring escapes from behind enemy lines, some of which are being recounted for the first time this season.
Seth Meyerowitz only knew the bare outlines of his grandfather’s harrowing war experiences, and wanted to learn more. His forthcoming book, The Lost Airman: A True Story of Escape from Nazi-Occupied France, written with Peter Stevens (Berkley, Jan. 2016), details how United States Air Force gunner Arthur Meyerowitz evaded capture by the Nazis in France for more than six months, with the aid of the French Resistance. The younger Meyerowitz managed, via the Internet, to track down the man who hid Arthur, and supplemented personal interviews with recently declassified material.
Another family tale is coauthored by the hero’s son. In Behind Nazi Lines: My Father’s Heroic Quest to Save 149 World War II POWs (Berkley, Aug.), Andrew Gerow Hodges Jr. and Denise George describe efforts by Hodges’s father to save Allied prisoners in occupied France. Excluded from combat for medical reasons, the senior Hodges joined the Red Cross and negotiated the release of inmates from German POW camps.
In The Cooler King: The True Story of William Ash, the Greatest Escaper of World War II (Overlook, Mar. 2016), Patrick Bishop profiles the man he believes was one of the real-life inspirations for Steve McQueen’s character in the 1963 movie The Great Escape. Earlier this year, Overlook published The Last Escaper: The Untold First-Hand Story of the Legendary World War II Bomber Pilot, “Cooler King” and Arch Escape Artist, in which Peter Tunstall offers a different candidate for the “Cooler King” title—Tunstall himself. That book comes out in paperback in January 2016.
Another WWII breakout story has been optioned for the big screen. Zero Night: The Untold Story of World War Two’s Greatest Escape by Mark Felton (St. Martin’s/Dunne, Aug.) concerns the events of August 30, 1942, when 40 Allied officers staged what renowned RAF pilot Douglas Bader described as “the most brilliant” escape of the war.