by Geoffrey Pyke

review by Yakov Chodosh

Originally published in 1916, TO RUHLEBEN AND BACK is a highly entertaining true story of World War I by a young English journalist, Geoffrey Pyke, who went to Berlin to cover the war. After some adventures in Berlin, he is captured by the Germans and placed in solitary confinement until he is transfered to Ruhleben, a camp for British enemy civilians. Although the prisoners are confined and sometimes subjected to harsh treatment, they create a fascinating culture, including improvised theater and newspapers.The last section of the book is taken up with the narrator's escape from Ruhleben and Germany.

Pyke communicates the extraordinary difficulties he encounters, but writes in an engaging style that makes the book fun to read. In a interview, editor Paul Collins says that in the book, "even in the most difficult situations there are things that are absurd and often even funny."

The book itself is part of the "Collins Library," an imprint of McSweeny's Books. Editor Paul Collins
contributes a great preface, highly useful footnotes, illustrations, and an epilogue.  Like most McSweeny's editions, Collins Library books are gorgeously produced, and a pleasure to hold and look at.

In all -- this is a volume you will enjoy for the entertaining story as well as the pleasure of owning an attractive book.

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And don't forget to check out this excerpt.

retail price - $18.00

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