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Black Camp 21

Narrated by: Seán Barrett
Length: 12 hrs and 41 mins
4 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Summary

All over Britain, POW camps are filling up with defeated German soldiers. But only the most dangerous are sent to Camp 21 - 'black' prisoners - SS diehards who've sworn death before surrender. 

As one fanatic plots a mass breakout and glorious march on London, Max Hartmann dreams of the oath he pledged to the teenage bride he scarcely knows and the child he's never met. Where do his loyalties really lie? 

Beneath the wintry mountains, in the hell of Black Camp 21, suspicion and fear swirl around like the endless snow. And while the Reich crumbles - and his brutal companions plan their assault - Max's toughest battle is only just beginning.

©2018 Bill Jones (P)2019 Isis Publishing

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Thoroughly Absorbing and Well-Judged

Bill Jones shines some light on one of the often-overlooked aspects of World War Two. The massive and sudden influx of German POWs to the UK was a logistical nightmare for the allies and of course a bitter pill to swallow for those captured. What we're presented with here is the insertion of a fictional character, Max Hartmann, into this all-too-real story.

I really liked the approach Jones took to this book, it feels balanced and never tries to be too judgemental about either side. There is an underlying gentleness or subtlety to some of the characterisation that allows their humanity to peek through. It feels as though Jones is trying to be absolutely fair to all sides without ever sugar-coating events. Seeing it through a German POV makes for interesting reflection.

The pacing is good too, we spend time following Hartmann and friends from some of their time on the battlefields of Europe through to the final denouement at Black Camp 21 itself. There are depth and a progression for the characters from cocky young bucks to weary POWs as the pressures take their toll on friendships and basic traits of humanity.

Sean Barrett is, of course, a top narrator, he doesn't try to inflict faux German accents on us and his voicing gives a genuine gravitas to proceedings. He helps set the darkening atmosphere very well without ever hamming it up too much.

In short, this is a thoroughly absorbing tale that touches on many of the aspects of how war affects the human condition and a reminder that under the worst circumstances our humanity is often diminished but sometimes, for some, also resilient

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Salutary reminder of the futility of war

I can add little to SImon's thoughtful and informative review suffice to say this book is worth listening to as a reminder of how misdirected nationalism can lead to war and unleash xenophobia and scapegoating of sections of society and unspeakable cruelty. A salutary reminder at this time when the UK is appears sadly on the path to isolation and internal conflict.
Sean Barrett's narration is excellent as usual.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful