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The Freedom Line: The Brave Men and Women Who Rescued Allied Airmen from the Nazis During World War II Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 6, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1ST edition (April 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060096632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060096632
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #764,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chronicling a group of young resistance fighters from Spain, France and Belgium, Washington Post deputy foreign editor Eisner brings to life "the Comet Line" they formed to lead Allied troops caught in the Basque region of Spain to safety. Eisner, whose wife is Basque, has spent a great deal of time in the area, and that familiarity permeates this taut account of trust and bravery among civilians and military men.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Escape from the Nazis, a well-worked theme in film and fiction, has a new tale to surrender from real history. Washington Post editor Eisner found an intrepid and heroic one about a Belgian escape-and-evasion organization called the Comet Line. Many of its operatives were caught, but a few escaped; now in their eighties, they shared their reminiscences with Eisner, who dramatizes them in a present-tense account. The Comet Line rescued Allied pilots shot down over Belgium and smuggled them across France to Spain. An American B-17 pilot whom Eisner interviewed, Robert Grimes, supplies the example of how the Comet Line clandestinely spirited its charges past the Gestapo to the Pyrenees. After recounting the work's ensuing dramatic climax, Grimes' crossing of the mountains guided by local Basques, in which a fellow airman and a Comet Line operative died, Eisner ends his history with the exposure of, and justice meted to, a nefarious initiate of the Comet Line who was a Gestapo double agent. An inspiring World War II story filled with courage and steely nerves. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Knut Royce and I have just published a revised version of our book, "The Italian Letter-The Forgery That Started The Iraq War." It is available on Kindle.

It has long been clear to us that resumed strife in the Middle East, especially focusing on Iraq and Syria, demands historic context. This is what we have attempted to provide.

We focused on the Italian Letter, a document (quickly proven to be a fake) that listed the sale of 500 tons of uranium from Niger to Iraq. The document was part of the framework behind the U.S. march to war in 2003. We spoke to dozens of sources in the intelligence community, as well as former and current officials in the United States, Britain, Italy and France, many of whom were willing to speak on the record about the conversations, documents and directives they witnessed or were privy to.

We still think that George Santayana's often used refrain is relevant and poignant: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"



Customer Reviews

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Theirs is an amazing story of sacrifice and dedication.
Perry Boone
This is a well written book and reads well, but it would have been better if it had included photos of the people involved and the areas described.
Domesticrat
Peter Eisner is to be complimented and this book should be in every school library and a must read for all.
Tom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Tom on April 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a perfect book for the present situation the world is experiencing today. This really shows how men and women who appreciate freedom sacrifice and put themselves in harms way. Peter Eisner is to be complimented and this book should be in every school library and a must read for all.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on December 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Bob Grimes was twenty years old, a pilot in a B-17 on the way back from bombing Germany on October 20, 1943 when an FW-190 shot off the tail of his plane. Wounded he bailed out of the stricken plane. On the ground he was incredibly lucky. He fell into the hands of The Comet Line. This was a network of people from Brussels to Spain that helped downed British and American air crew to escape. This book uses the story of Grimes to tell the story of the Comet Line itself.

The Comet Line was the creation of an elegant young Belgian woman Dedee de Jongh. She ran the organization until she was captured and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp; she survived the war.

Parts of this story are seen in the movie "The Great Escape" where one of the escapees travels down the line to Spain. True, this is a dramatic story of people at their best in very dangerous situations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Perry Boone on May 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book that describes a part of the European Theater in World War II that many Americans know little about. I sent a copy of the book to a friend and his wife who were in the resistance in Holland in WW II. They also loved the book and said it was an absolutely accurate and riveting account of the underground resistance movement in Europe. A wonderful read...far better than any contrived fiction. The folks who saved our downed Allied aircrew members and guided them to safety are true heros. Theirs is an amazing story of sacrifice and dedication.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Adam Lunney on August 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is about 310 pages long, but unfortunately, it took about 80 pages to really get into it for me. Once there though, I rocketed through the rest of the story, and it was a genuinely interesting read. I read a lot of military history, and this tale of allied airmen escaping Europe during WW2 and the people who helped them is definitely a worthwhile read. A lot of research was done for the book says the author, but there is only one small map at the beginning to show in general terms where the aircrew and their rescuers travelled.

I would have thought that a story so close to the authors heart would have at least some photos of the main participants - during the war and afterwards maybe, as well as photos of the streets of Paris where safehouses existed or even of the mountains that the escapees had to cross to make it to safety.

I think that just by making a few notes it would be relatively easy to come up with a DIY tour of the Comet Line places of interest in Paris. Indeed, this is what the "Battlefield Europe" series of books (Published by Pen&Sword) do, and it's a great and easy to follow idea.

As mentioned by at least one other reviewer, the book could have used some photos to give the reader a clearer picture of people and events and this would have certainly added a star for me. It is however, an important book, about some little known, but certainly brave people.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By WW2 Reviews on January 14, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first became aware of WW2 escape organizations and The Comet Line in particular from the excellent historical novel, NIGHT OF FLAMES, by Douglas W Jacobson. I was intrigued by the bravery and sacrifice made by these very ordinary people in Belgium (many of them young women and teenagers). THE FREEDOM LINE is an excellent historical account of this remarkable chapter in WW2 complete with detailed storeis of the Belgian agents as well as the Allied pilots who were rescued. It is an inspiration for everyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By myriam palmer on April 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent report of Allied excape through the Underground in France during WWII. Coroborated information from my Father's personal escape and evasion story November 1943-June 1944 from the Netherlands through Belgium, France, across the Pyrenees, through Spain to Gibraltar.
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