The Dodger is the long-awaited story of Johnny Dodge, a wartime hero and a pivotal figure in the escapade immortalised in the legendary Hollywood film The Great Escape.
Of all the Allied prisoners who broke out of Hermann Göring's 'escape proof' camp in the famous episode of March 1944, Johnny Dodge was the most intriguing. American-born Dodge was a cousin by marriage of Winston Churchill. When the Second World War broke out, he volunteered for the Army but was quickly captured after the debacle of Dunkirk. He became a prisoner of war and an inveterate escapologist and troublemaker - eventually becoming one of the ringleaders of the 'Great Escape'.
Surviving the murderous Gestapo, he was thrown into a VIP compound of Sachsenhausen concentration camp on the orders of Heinrich Himmler - but escaped once more. After recapture, Johnny was spirited away by the SS to a meeting in Berlin with Hitler's interpreter, who sent him on a clandestine mission to his cousin in Downing Street. His odyssey through the dying embers of the Third Reich to Switzerland and freedom in the company of a louche Nazi apparatchik is the last curious escapade in the story of Johnny's adventurous life.
The Dodger draws upon Dodge's voluminous private papers, including photographs taken inside prison camps and letters home, casting revealing new light on the myth of the Great Escape.
Book of the week
Tim Carroll has done a superb job in tracking down a mine of entertaining information on this unjustly forgotten figure
The biography of a swashbuckling adventurer right out of the pages of an Ian Fleming novel
Carroll has drawn on half a century's research - but he's also had the perspective that the passage of time can bring