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Summary

The astonishing, forgotten story of the hero who escaped from Auschwitz to reveal the truth of the Holocaust.

In April 1944, a teenager named Rudolf Vrba was planning a daring and unprecedented escape from Auschwitz. After hiding in a pile of timber planks for three days while 3,000 SS men and their bloodhounds searched for him, Vrba and his fellow escapee Fred Wetzler would eventually cross Nazi-occupied Poland on foot, as penniless fugitives. Their mission: to tell the world the truth of the Final Solution.

Vrba would produce from memory a breathtaking report of more than thirty pages revealing the true nature and scale of Auschwitz—a report that would find its way to Roosevelt, Churchill and the Pope, eventually saving over 200,000 Jewish lives.

A thrilling history with enormous historical implications, The Escape Artist is the extraordinary story of a complex man who would seek escape again and again: first from Auschwitz, then from his past, even from his own name. In telling his story, Jonathan Freedland—the journalist, broadcaster and acclaimed, multi-million copy selling author of the Sam Bourne novels—ensures that Rudolf Vrba's heroic mission will also escape oblivion.

©2022 Jonathan Freedland (P)2022 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

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What listeners say about The Escape Artist

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Extraordinary and imperative to listen to

I sit here with tears running down my cheeks.
I am an old person so have always known of the horror of the holocaust - but only in general terms, and of course having seen Schindlers list and other documentaries.
But this is something else.
I am filled with deepest gratitude to Jonathan freedland for having written this extraordinary account of an extraordinary man. And bringing to the light the fact that STILL! we do NOT heed, believe or act on similar horrors happening this very moment. He does not state that in as many words in the book - but anyone with a conscience and anyone who reads the papers or listens to reliable news- will stir deeply uncomfortably.
Thank you Mr Freedland for bearing witness and taking time And trouble to publish your own report of the report I hope and pray it may fall on wiser ears then Rudi’s report.
Please - people- if you listen to no other book - listen to this one.

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A riveting and astonishing story

A riveting and astonishing story told with great clarity, sympathy and panache. I can't recommend this highly enough.

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  • AI
  • 12-08-22

One of those books everyone should read

This is one of those life stories which, even when you try to describe it to someone else, cannot be believed or grasped until the individual has read and experienced it for themselves. (And believe me, I've tried.) Ironically, that's one of the themes that appears over and over again throughout the book. Don't be put off by thinking this is just a daring-do escape story; the escape itself actually forms only about a fifth of the book.

It is clearly Freedland's opus and I find it hard to imagine how it could have been better researched. His prose manages to be both detailed and sparce at the same time, but with a poetry that lifts the facts with an emotion appropriate to their social and historical context. One can see that his description of Robyn, for instance, was painstakingly crafted. I suspect it's one of those books that is even better hearing via narration.

Recommended for anyone, but especially those interested in courage, perseverance, standing up for injustice but also Christians thinking about evangelism. Hopefully it won't be long before it's on the reading list of secondary schools as a follow on from Anne Frank. Congratulations to Mr Freedland on an excellent book and I'm looking forward to seeing what else he produces.

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Phenomenal

It was incredible. This story should be heard around the world. Narration is great too.

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A*

A fantastic yet chilling story of a brilliant man's life story. Highly recommended listen.

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An extraordinary life, well told

Like most people out seems, I had never heard of Rudolph Werber (Walter Rosenberg) before coming across 'The Escape Artist' being reviewed on the radio. Jonathan Freedland has done a characteristically fine job of correcting that, in his lucid prose and accessible narration of Rudi's extraordinary escape from Auschwitz, and his attempts to publicise his first-hand, meticulously detailed witness testimony of the industrial scale murder in the Holocaust concentration and extermination camps.

Freedland applies the rigour of his historical analysis to present a sympathetic but unvarnished portrait of Rudi Werber - an understandably difficult and often tormented person - which in my view greatly helps to comprehend how his character shared his experiences, and his experiences shaped his character.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough, for anyone touched by or inquisitive about the history of genocide in the 20th century, and reflections on our responsibilities today.

Permit me a spoiler: "Only when information is combined with belief, does it become knowledge. And only knowledge leads to action." To appreciate the deep importance of this insight for all our futures, please read or listen to this book, and recommend others to do so too.

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Absolutely amazing account

This is by far the most important Holocaust account I have ever read. It’s like no other recount I have ever seen or even heard of. Beautifully written by Jonathan Freedland. I really can’t recommend it enough. I believe this is a must read.

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Fascinating & horrifying

Incredibly interesting and at times really harrowing true life story of a complex man who was one of the few jews to escape from Aushwitz. Well worth listening to. I listened to it almost nonstop over 3 days because it was so addictive.

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An important and excellent biography

Outstandingly well written, researched and narrated this has to be one of the finest biographies of recent years.

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One more, with feeling!

Though I have,by now, read many books, watched several films, and listened to a few audiobooks that exposed the happenings and touched the lives of millions during the lead up to, the actual fighting, and in the aftermath of the Second World War, I found it difficult to stop listening, even after hours of having done so. I believe that what contributed to its’ ability to hold my attention, was that the author was also the reader, and his performance was both enthusiastic and faultless.

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  • Cynthea Wellings
  • 12-08-22

Best book I’ve read this year

This is a terrific book and I would recommend it to everyone. Not only is it extremely well written, highly engaging and historically very important, it also reveals many aspects of the human condition which are essential to understanding why humans behave in the manner they do.