The Escape Artist

Books

The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World (12 hours) begins with a perilous escape attempt from Auschwitz and expands into a larger story about Rudolf Vrba, one of the first Jewish people to escape from the notorious concentration camp. 

British author Jonathan Freedland (known for both his thrillers and work in journalism) depicts Vrba as a demanding and complicated person whose eyewitness account, though verified and reported by the Jewish Council, failed to reach the number of people he’d hoped. As author and narrator of this probing biography, Freedland recounts the dire circumstances preventing Vrba’s compatriots and fellow Jews from protesting the existence of the death camps. Freedland also explores history’s restrictive expectations of the Holocaust survivor and how Vrba’s decadent lifestyle (he enjoyed fine food, travel and a good argument) did not aid his case. 

Through this gripping narrative and his commanding yet disarming voice, Freedland reinforces Vrba’s place within the annals of history.


Correction February 13, 2023: This article was updated to clarify that Vrba was one of the first Jewish people to escape from Auschwitz.

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