The Escape Artist

The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World

by Jonathan Freedland

On Sale: 10/18/2022

The Escape Artist

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The Escape Artist

The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World

by Jonathan Freedland

On Sale: 10/18/2022


About the Book

"A brilliant and heart-wrenching book, with universal and timely lessons about the power of information and misinformation. Is it possible to stop mass murder by telling the truth?" — Yuval Noah Harari, bestselling author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

A complex hero. 

A forgotten story. 

The first witness to reveal the full truth of the Holocaust . . .

 Award-winning journalist and bestselling novelist Jonathan Freedland tells the incredible story of Rudolf Vrba—the first Jew to break out of Auschwitz, a man determined to warn the world and pass on a truth too few were willing to hear—elevating him to his rightful place in the annals of World War II alongside Anne Frank, Primo Levi, and Oskar Schindler and casting a new light on the Holocaust and its aftermath.

People won’t believe what they can’t imagine . . . 

In April 1944, Rudolf Vrba became the first Jew to break out of Auschwitz—one of only four who ever pulled off that near-impossible feat. He did it to reveal the truth of the death camp to the world—and to warn the last Jews of Europe what fate awaited them at the end of the railway line. Against all odds, he and his fellow escapee, Fred Wetzler, climbed mountains, crossed rivers and narrowly missed German bullets until they had smuggled out the first full account of Auschwitz the world had ever seen—a forensically detailed report that would eventually reach Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and the Pope.

 And yet too few heeded the warning that Vrba—then just nineteen years old—had risked everything to deliver. Some could not believe it. Others thought it easier to keep quiet. Vrba helped save 200,000 Jewish lives—but he never stopped believing it could have been so many more.

 This is the story of a brilliant yet troubled man—a gifted “escape artist” who even as a teenager understand that the difference between truth and lies can be the difference between life and death, a man who deserves to take his place alongside Anne Frank, Oskar Schindler and Primo Levi as one of the handful of individuals whose stories define our understanding of the Holocaust.

Critical Praise

"A brilliant and heart-wrenching book, with universal and timely lessons about the power of information - and misinformation. Is it possible to stop mass murder by telling the truth?" — Yuval Noah Harari, bestselling author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

“I thought I knew the Auschwitz story, but Freedland retells it from a fresh angle so powerfully that I read it with my heart beating fast, full of horror, rage, despair – and admiration for this potent demonstration of the stubborn resilience of the human spirit.”  — Tracy Chevalier, bestselling author of The Girl with the Pearl Earring

"Rudolf Vrba's life story not only meticulously recounts the truth, it also shows the unwillingness and inability of people to accept it. The past isn't over, and Jonathan Freedland's well-researched and compelling book is the irrefutable proof of that." — Roxane van Iperen, author of the New York Times bestselling The Sisters of Auschwitz   

"A powerful story of one man’s resilience in the face of extreme evil and the price we pay when indifference rules our response." — Rosemary Sullivan, bestselling author of Stalin’s Daughter and The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation

"This is not only an electrifying work of narrative history, it’s a gripping origin story. The command that we ‘Never Forget’ the Holocaust can rightfully be traced to a young man who exposed the horrors of Auschwitz by virtue of his extraordinary memory and tremendous bravery. As told by the gifted writer Jonathan Freedland, The Escape Artist is a story I’ll always remember.” — Mitchell Zuckoff, New York Times bestselling author of Fall and Rise and 13 Hours

"Rudi Vrba, a Slovakian teenager, got away from Auschwitz, one of only four Jews ever to survive an escape attempt, in order to alert the world to the horrors he witnessed there. Most of his intended recipients declined to read his stomach-churning report, didn’t believe it, or didn’t care. We have it within us to care now. I didn’t know Vrba’s name previously. I will remember it the rest of my life." — Melissa Fay Greene, prizewinning author of The Temple Bombing and Praying for Sheetrock

“A thrilling read, a piece of redemptive storytelling and a work of important Holocaust historical research ... a book that I couldn’t put down.” — Simon Sebag Montefiore

"If you think you know everything you need to know about the Holocaust, Jonathan Freedland's immersive, shattering, and, ultimately redemptive book, will come as a revelation. It's an epic of terror and endurance, personified by the history of a man who, in the deepest pit of hell, grasped that the greatest weapon that could be used against the Nazi Final Solution was the escape, not just of himself, but the truth. Written with Freedland's page-turning, gripping, hard-edged immediacy, The Escape Artist is profound in thought, boundless in humanity, an immediate modern classic in the literature of the ultimate atrocity." — Sir Simon Schama

"This is an indispensable, unflinching, bone-hard book. At one level the story of an audacious break-out, at another it tells of the inhuman methodology of the concentration camp as meticulously documented by a prisoner who had no time for rhetoric or sentimentality but who–tragically–found it harder to get the world to believe what he saw in Auschwitz than it was to escape from it. Compelling reading." — Howard Jacobson, author of the Man Booker Prize winning The Finkler Question

"Drawing on interviews with family members and former colleagues, Freedland presents a warts-and-all portrait of Vrba, and vividly captures the horrors of Auschwitz. The result is a noteworthy contribution to the history of the Holocaust." — Publisher's Weekly

"Freedland tells — with the verve of the best-selling novelist that he is — the story of Rudolf Vrba, the first Jew to successfully escape from Auschwitz. The narrative is extraordinary. In great and heart-stopping detail it tells of Vrba’s plan and how he executed it. It also explains why." — The Jewish Chronicle

"This isn’t a book just about Auschwitz, it’s also a deeply moving biography about Rudolf the man including his (entirely understandably) tempestuous and troubled life after the war. He died almost forgotten, and Freedland’s brilliant research and writing rightly resurrect him. His story must be told and read: a brave man who did his best to warn a world which wouldn’t listen." — Financial Times

“Concentration camp stories make for painful reading, but British journalist and broadcaster Freedland relates a riveting tale with a fascinating protagonist . . . Freedland delivers a gripping description of Vrba and a companion’s planning, breakout, and grueling walk to Slovakia . . . A powerful story of a true hero who deserves more recognition.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780063112339
  • ISBN 10: 0063112337
  • Imprint: Harper
  • On Sale: 10/18/2022
  • Pages: 400
  • List Price:35.99 CAD
  • BISAC1 : HISTORY / Jewish
  • BISAC2 : HISTORY / Social History
  • BISAC3 : HISTORY / Holocaust

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