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"Totally spellbinding. Bill Ash makes Steve McQueen look like Jim Carrey" - Alan Plater, writer
"A story of bravery, humor and never-say-die" - Heather Nicholoson, The Times, London
"Under the Wire makes the reader want to stand up and cheer!" - Charles Rollings, Wire & Walls
"One of the most inspirational stories I've ever read. A wonderful book about a wonderful man" - Robert Elms, BBC
"A real page-turner. Wonderfully told" - Julia Strong, National Literacy Trust
"The sort of wry adventure story that begs to be immortalized on film as a cross between Tom Jones and The Great Escape." - Rick McGinnis, Metro Toronto
"Full of excitement and drama. Fans of escape stories will eat it up" - David Pitt, American Library Association
"Moving, very entertaining story. Through all Bill's years in PoW camps shines his steely determination to keep fighting. Under the Wire is a book that everybody should read." - Libby Purves, Midweek, BBC Radio
"An Amazing story. Bill may well have provided inspiration for the Steve McQueen character in The Great Escape. Sixty years on, that inspiration is undimmed" - Yorkshire Post
My daughter bought me this book as a Christmas present. William Ash's story is inspiring and encouraging. He survived more than a dozen escape attempts as an American POW held by the Germans during WWII. His stories of the various camps and other facilities where he was detained, the near unbelievable ways the men planned their various escapes, and the people who helped and interacted with him during this time, are nothing short of amazing.
The book was all the more enjoyable to read because of William's fantastic sense of humor in the face of his extremely intimidating circumstances. Example: "As I lay on the floor of a wretched Gestapo cell waiting to be shot the next morning, I pondered the strange workings of a world in which an American boy, in the Canadian Air Force, fighting for the British, was going to end up being shot by Germans in France. I tried to smile, but it hurt too much."
This is a great book and a fast and enjoyable (and amazing) read.
There are many books on consecration camps and POW camps, but this one is a page turner that holds ones interest. From a boring young existance in a poor town and poor family, Mr Ash completes his comittment to join and serve in the armed forces to fight Germany. I give him credit for his ability to withstand abuse, hunger, and bad weather and still obtain his goal in life. Very well done
"Under the Wire" has everything: history, adventure, thrills, humanity, humor, wit, compassion, poignancy, and, most of all, thrilling, page-turning action. It never strays from the essential story. It never tries to get too clever. It rivets from the opening and never lets go. My father, whose birthday coincides with the publication date and who died eighteen month ago at age 90, would have devoured it in one sitting, as he loved books about WWII. It's the only negative about this book, that I could not share it with him, as I did every other history book I read. When the final page is turned, one marvels at the indomitable fight in these prisoners and their ingenious efforts at not only survival but escape. The hero of the book should be canonized in the annals of wartime achievements.
This book starts out as a good adventure by a bright and talented guy who wants to get into the fight in Europe long before the US was ready to accept reality. It starts out as a flying adventure and this was the part of the book I enjoyed the most. Then, he gets shot down and his life as a POW starts. Here is the main story of this book and we see what a brave and stubborn man the author is. His dogged enthusiasm for escape is extraordinary and his tolerance for bad treatment is nothing short of heroic. He is lucky to have survived.
When I began reading UNDER THE WIRE, I expected a story of heroic "derring-do", recalled with a sort of misty, stiff-upper lipped nostalgia by a Grand Lion in the winter of his remarkable life.
Instead, I got so, so much more.
Bill Ash's life is remarkable by anyone's yardstick. From his earliest childhood in Depression-era Texas, he was a hero, ready and eager to take on any bully. While America watched as Europe fell to a maniacal Hitler, he made a decision to personally take on the biggest bully in modern history.
Remarkable? Brave? Courageous? Yes, all of these adjectives describe the heroic life of Bill Ash.
But his life, and his story -- told so extraordinarily well by Ash and his co-writer, Brendan Foley -- is also funny, human and a lesson in living one's life with heart and a true moral compass.
There is as much Huck Finn and Jack Kerouac in Ash's war stories, as there is John Wayne.
Like all great tales of history, UNDER THE WIRE does more than offer adventure after adventure (and WOW, what adventures Bill had!)
The book offers a sense of the times, a sense of the politics, insights into the dangers, the choices, the cat-and-mouse existence of a Prisoner of War.
Bill played cat-and-mouse with the Third Reich, and did it brilliantly.
And I have never read an adventure story with so much genuine humor!
UNDER THE WIRE is a glorious tribute to the sort of person we long for, but never really see anymore: a true hero.
Where was this book and information, years ago when I talked with Paddy Barthrop at the Eagle Squadron dedication and reunion in London, 1986. How many more questions would I have had? How I would have liked to have met Mr. Ash. What a wonderful read.....
William Ash has a vivid and engaging storytelling voice and, even more remarkably, a marvelous sense of humor, even when discussing his interrogations and beatings by Gestapo thugs. His story is amazing, his courage awe-inspiring. His journey travels from Depression Texas to the Battle of Britain to tunnel escapes from POW camps in Poland and Lithuania. This is a very special WWII escape memoir, and also increased my knowledge of great escapers like Jimmy Buckley and George Grimson. It resonates with deeply felt emotion while being utterly devoid of the cliches of this genre. If you read only one memoir of a WWII escaper, make it this one.