Reviewer: Reg Seward

Publisher: Profile Books      3rd June 2021

ISBN:  978-1788162715      HB

A recently published book, that tells us of a real adventure during the WW1 debacle. Written by an already accomplished American authoress Margalit Fox. As the war drew its lethargic way through country after country, Turkey, as a power point, became a battleground as British forces became surrounded, eventually captured, and then spent time as prisoners of war at varied places, deep within the nation. Extreme hardship and endurance became manifest over the months, as men died, or were badly fed, sickness, and illness were rife, accommodation was dire. This is a story of how just a few of them, mainly two in particular Harry Jones and Cedric Hill used their cunning to outwit the Turkish.

Their skills in the art of prestidigitation (sleight of hand), were used as a means of entertainment to pass the time, but they eventually began to fake séances to further entertain the prisoners, which were closely observed by the captors themselves.

The story is incredible, the educational standard of over 100 years ago was seriously impaired, especially in the Turkish hinterland. Yet these two British P.O.W.’s created a smokescreen that drew in officialdom, gave the captives a real chance for freedom, at the same time as becoming celebrities, causing disruptive treasure hunting missions, ghosts, spirits that suckered the Turkish wholesale. The power of greed is immense.

To regularly perform the act of sustained madness, ostensibly created by summoned genii/spirits, and to pass the story in such a believable manner, most certainly against the Turkish disbelief, and altogether dubiousness of the situation, created innumerable problems for our two individuals. Did it have a long-term effect on the two men? How was it all resolved? This is a great read, always a treat to read something different anyway, and this proved to be most certainly that.