Last Gasp – Prisoners of the Kaiser, Richard van Emden (2000)

Van Emden seems to have spent the last few years rushing around interviewing the last Great War veterans before they died for a series of books on the subject. This is not to say these are not good books – they are certainly informative, and they reflect a general desire to secure first hand testimony before it is too late.

It’s an interesting book, useful as a starting point for further research. Rather than follow each contributor from start to finish, or describe the aftermath of particular battles, it is structured to cover chronological topics – capture (whenever, and wherever that may have been), behind enemy lines, surviving in a prison camp etc.
This is a topic that is not covered so extensively as others in all the forests of Great War related material, and it’s good to see such an accessible book on the subject.

The book was based on a Channel 4 documentary of the same name, which unfortunately I don’t recall seeing. As a result of the documentary there was a flutter of interest in the mainstream press, and this site republishes an article from the Guardian, which took on some of the issues in the documentary.

For further reading, there is some interesting discussion on the subject in this forum thread, discussing POW conditions, and this one, discussing British POW attire.

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