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  • Published: 15 March 2014
  • ISBN: 9780552777896
  • Imprint: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • RRP: $24.99

Cruel Crossing

Escaping Hitler Across the Pyrenees




The secret history of the WW2 escape routes through the Pyrenees from France to Spain: personal stories of endurance, betrayal and remarkable bravery.

The mountain paths are as treacherous as they are steep – the more so in the dark and in winter. Even for the fit the journey is a formidable challenge. Hundreds of those who climbed through the Pyrenees during the Second World War were malnourished and exhausted after weeks on the run hiding in barns and attics. Many never even reached the Spanish border.

Today their bravery and endurance is commemorated each July by a trek along the Chemin de la Liberté – the toughest and most dangerous of wartime routes. From his fellow pilgrims Edward Stourtonuncovers stories of midnight scrambles across rooftops and drops from speeding trains; burning Lancasters, doomed love affairs, horrific murder and astonishing heroism.

The lives of the men, women and children who were drawn by the war to the Pyrenees often read as breathtakingly exciting adventure, but they were led against a background of intense fear, mounting persecution and appalling risk. Drawing on interviews with the few remaining survivors and the families of those who were there, Edward Stourton’s vivid history of this little-known aspect of the Second World War is shocking, dramatic and intensely moving.

  • Published: 15 March 2014
  • ISBN: 9780552777896
  • Imprint: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • RRP: $24.99

About the author

Edward Stourton

Edward Stourton has worked in broadcasting for 38 years, and regularly presents BBC Radio Four programmes such as The World at One, The World This Weekend, Sunday and Analysis. He has been a foreign correspondent for Channel Four, ITN and the BBC, and for ten years he was one of the main presenters of the Today programme. Auntie's War is his seventh book.

Also by Edward Stourton

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Praise for Cruel Crossing

This is a very shocking book. It recaptures the adventure and the horror as it brilliantly conjures up the voices of the past.

Jason Goodwin, Country Life

Charming but astute, Stourton captures not only the extraordinary courage of the escapers and the passeurs, or guides, who helped them, but the sense of danger and excitement as they evaded their pursuers.

Adrian Brewer, The Tablet

A moving retelling of some of the war's most heroic episodes

Nigel Jones, Sunday Telegraph

Stourton's richly rewarding research into the wartime journeys across the Pyrenees reminds us of so many dramatic stories of courage, tragedy, endurance and survival.

Iain Finlayson, Saga Magazine

Stourton writes evocatively and with sensitivity... an engaging collection of tales.

Viv Watts, Daily Express

Fascinating... vivid, detailed and dramatic

The Lady

An extremely moving book full of wartime heroism and sacrifice

The Good Book Guide

These are gripping stories that make you ask "what would I have done" if faced with an escapee needing help?

The Times

Honest, astonishing and emotional... a mesmerising work on the Second World War's overlooked heroes.

Daily Express

A moving retelling of some of the war's most heroic episodes

Nigel Jones, Sunday Telegraph

Fascinating... vivid, detailed and dramatic

The Lady

An extremely moving book full of wartime heroism and sacrifice

The Good Book Guide

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