The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather

Ebury author Jack Fairweather was announced as the winner of the 2019 Costa Book of the Year Award with his novel The Volunteerwhich tells the unsung story of one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War - a gripping story of defiance, rebellion, sabotage and escape from a Nazi death camp. The Wall Street Journal described it as 'a story that has long deserved a robust, faithful telling, and he has delivered it'. 

The £30,000 winning book was chosen from five categories: Best Novel – Middle England by Penguin General author Jonathan Coe, First Novel – The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Penguin General author Sara Collins, Biography – The Volunteer by Ebury author Jack Fairweather, Poetry – Fleche by Mary Jean Chan and Children's book – Asha & The Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan.

Jack Fairweather with his winning book 'The Volunteer'

Jack Fairweather at the 2019 Costa Book Awards ceremony

The shortlist at the ceremony, including Sara Collins and Jonathan Coe

The shortlist, including Sara Collins and Jonathan Coe

  • The Volunteer


  • 'Totally gripping'-- Simon Sebag Montefiore

    ‘Pilecki is perhaps one of the greatest unsung heroes of the second world war ... this insightful book is likely to be the definitive version of this extraordinary life’ -- Economist


    Would you sacrifice yourself to save thousands of others?


    In the Summer of 1940, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, an underground operative called Witold Pilecki accepted a mission to uncover the fate of thousands of people being interned at a new concentration camp on the border of the Reich.

    His mission was to report on Nazi crimes and raise a secret army to stage an uprising. The name of the detention centre -- Auschwitz.

    It was only after arriving at the camp that he started to discover the Nazi’s terrifying plans. Over the next two and half years, Witold forged an underground army that smuggled evidence of Nazi atrocities out of Auschwitz. His reports from the camp were to shape the Allies response to the Holocaust - yet his story was all but forgotten for decades.

    This is the first major account to draw on unpublished family papers, newly released archival documents and exclusive interviews with surviving resistance fighters to show how he brought the fight to the Nazis at the heart of their evil designs.

    The result is an enthralling story of resistance and heroism against the most horrific circumstances, and one man’s attempt to change the course of history.

  • Buy the book

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