The confidence men How two prisoners of war engineered the most remarkable escape in history

Margalit Fox

Book - 2021

"Imprisoned in a remote Turkish prison camp during World War I, having survived a two-month forced march and a terrifying shootout in the desert, two British officers, Harry Jones and Cedric Hill, join forces to bamboozle their iron-fisted captors. To stave off despair and boredom, Jones takes a handmade Ouija board and fakes elaborate séances for his fellow prisoners. Word gets around camp, and one day, a Turkish officer approaches Jones with a query: Could Jones contact the spirit world ...to find a vast treasure rumored to be buried nearby? Jones, a trained lawyer, and Hill, a brilliant magician, use the Ouija board--and their keen understanding of the psychology of deception--to build a trap for the Turkish officers that will ultimately lead them to freedom. The Confidence Men is the story of the only known con game played for a good cause--and of a profound but unlikely friendship. Had it not been for "the Great War," Jones, the Oxford-educated son of a British lord, and Hill, a mechanic from an Australian sheep farm, would never have met. But in pain, loneliness, hunger, and isolation, they formed a powerful emotional and intellectual alliance that saved both of their lives. Margalit Fox brings her "nose for interesting facts, the ability to construct a taut narrative arc, and a Dickens-level gift for concisely conveying personality" (Kathryn Schulz, New York) to this gripping tale of psychological strategy that is rife with cunning, danger, and moments of high farce that rival anything in Catch-22"--

Saved in:
1 person waiting

2nd Floor Show me where

940.472/Fox
7 / 7 copies available

2nd Floor New Shelf Show me where

940.472/Fox
0 / 2 copies available

Bookmobile Nonfiction Show me where

940.472/Fox
1 / 1 copies available

2nd Floor EXPRESS shelf Show me where

940.472/Fox
0 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 940.472/Fox Checked In
2nd Floor 940.472/Fox Checked In
2nd Floor 940.472/Fox Checked In
2nd Floor 940.472/Fox Checked In
2nd Floor 940.472/Fox Checked In
2nd Floor 940.472/Fox Checked In
2nd Floor 940.472/Fox Checked In
2nd Floor New Shelf 940.472/Fox (NEW SHELF) Due May 22, 2022
2nd Floor New Shelf 940.472/Fox (NEW SHELF) Due Jun 7, 2022
Bookmobile Nonfiction 940.472/Fox Checked In
2nd Floor EXPRESS shelf 940.472/Fox Due May 29, 2022
Subjects
Genres
Biography
Biographies
Published
New York : Random House [2021]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xvi, 329 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9781984853844
1984853848
Main Author
Margalit Fox (author)
  • Prologue: A wraith at the top of the stairs
  • For king and country
  • Besieged
  • Destination unknown
  • A hundred springs
  • Spooked
  • The uses of enchantment
  • The regard of flight
  • In confidence
  • Villainous OOO
  • The treasure test
  • The telechronistic ray
  • Certifiable
  • Two lunatics, five hundred pounds of butter, and a great deal of flour
  • The mad ward
  • Near death
  • Persuasion
  • Epilogue: Afterlife.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Fox, author of two nonfiction jewels, The Riddle of the Labyrinth (2013) and Conan Doyle for the Defense (2018), tells the story of the most amazing prison escape you've probably never heard of. It was at the tail end of the Great War, and two British soldiers, Harry Jones and Cedric Hill, were among the prisoners at Yozgad, a POW camp in what is now called Turkey. Concocting a story about hidden treasure, and using a Quija board to con the guards into thinking they were speaking to the dead, Jones and Hill did what thousands of prisoners have only dreamed of doing: they got away. It truly is a remarkable story, and it's about much more than the mechanics of a prison break; it's also about two men who were determined to do the impossible. Fox is an excellent storyteller; she writes about real events as though they were the stuff of fiction, bringing the people to vivid life and making the reader feel as though they are part of the story. Another fine true story from an outstanding writer. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

With this latest work, Fox (Conan Doyle for the Defense) presents a World War I story of two British officers from different sides of the world—Welsh lawyer Harry Jones and Australian magician Cedric Hill—who collaborated to escape from a Turkish POW camp, using deception, a handcrafted Ouija board, and an insanity plea which sent them to the relative safety of an asylum. The case of the Yazgod prison escapees was distinctive because they employed not weapons or tunnels but ingenuity, by beguiling commandants with a fanciful search for hidden treasure and the power of deception. This well-researched book, based in part on the men's memoirs, gives considerable context to the 20th-century Anglo revival of spiritualism and confidence manipulation, and makes comparisons with the coercive persuasion of later cult leaders and demagogues. It includes photographs of Jones and Hill throughout their careers, along with extensive notes and a bibliography for further research. VERDICT Fans of military history will appreciate this book's attention to the Ottoman side of the war; general readers will learn much about the influence of mass psychology. Like Fox's previous works, this latest is a page-turner.—Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Lib. of Congress, Washington, DC Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Fox (Conan Doyle for the Defense), a former obituary writer for the New York Times, recounts in this marvelous history how two British army officers in WWI orchestrated "the most singular prison break ever recorded." Seeking to alleviate the monotony of life at the remote Yozgad prison camp in Turkey, British POWs built a Ouija board from salvaged materials. After numerous failed attempts to raise a spirit, Elias Henry Jones, "the Oxford-educated son of a British lord," began manipulating the board, convincing his compatriots that they were conversing with the dead. Intended merely as a lark, Jones's game became a more serious affair when a Turkish officer asked if the board could help him find a buried treasure. Jones partnered with Cedric Waters Hill, an Australian pilot and "master magician," to devise a complex scheme to trick the camp commandant into sending them to Constantinople, where they spent six months feigning madness in an insane asylum before being repatriated. Fox enriches her account with intriguing deep dives into the psychology of "coercive persuasion," the mechanics of confidence games, and the history of spiritualism in the U.S. and England. Readers will be mesmerized by this rich and rewarding tale. Agent: Katinka Matson, Brockman.(June) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"Imprisoned in a remote Turkish prison camp during World War I, having survived a two-month forced march and a terrifying shootout in the desert, two British officers, Harry Jones and Cedric Hill, join forces to bamboozle their iron-fisted captors. To stave off despair and boredom, Jones takes a handmade Ouija board and fakes elaborate sâeances for his fellow prisoners. Word gets around camp, and one day, a Turkish officer approaches Jones with a query: Could Jones contact the spirit world to find a vasttreasure rumored to be buried nearby? Jones, a trained lawyer, and Hill, a brilliant magician, use the Ouija board--and their keen understanding of the psychology of deception--to build a trap for the Turkish officers that will ultimately lead them to freedom. The Confidence Men is the story of the only known con game played for a good cause--and of a profound but unlikely friendship. Had it not been for "the Great War," Jones, the Oxford-educated son of a British lord, and Hill, a mechanic from an Australian sheep farm, would never have met. But in pain, loneliness, hunger, and isolation, they formed a powerful emotional and intellectual alliance that saved both of their lives. Margalit Fox brings her "nose for interesting facts, the ability to construct a taut narrative arc, and a Dickens-level gift for concisely conveying personality" (Kathryn Schulz, New York) to this gripping tale of psychological strategy that is rife with cunning, danger, and moments of high farce that rival anything in Catch-22"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

This gripping nonfiction thriller follows two British officers who team up to con their iron-fisted captors by using a Oujia board – and their keen understanding of the psychology of deception – to build a trap for their captors that will ultimately lead them to freedom. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The Great Escape for the Great War: the astonishing true story of two World War I prisoners who pulled off one of the most ingenious escapes of all time.FINALIST FOR THE EDGAR® AWARD • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND NPR • “Fox unspools Jones and Hill’s delightfully elaborate scheme in nail-biting episodes that advance like a narrative Rube Goldberg machine.”—The New York Times Book ReviewImprisoned in a remote Turkish POW camp during World War I, having survived a two-month forced march and a terrifying shootout in the desert, two British officers, Harry Jones and Cedric Hill, join forces to bamboozle their iron-fisted captors. To stave off despair and boredom, Jones takes a handmade Ouija board and fakes elaborate séances for his fellow prisoners. Word gets around, and one day an Ottoman official approaches Jones with a query: Could Jones contact the spirit world to find a vast treasure rumored to be buried nearby? Jones, a trained lawyer, and Hill, a brilliant magician, use the Ouija board—and their keen understanding of the psychology of deception—to build a trap for their captors that will ultimately lead them to freedom. A gripping nonfiction thriller, The Confidence Men is the story of one of the only known con games played for a good cause—and of a profound but unlikely friendship. Had it not been for “the Great War,” Jones, the Oxford-educated son of a British lord, and Hill, a mechanic on an Australian sheep ranch, would never have met. But in pain, loneliness, hunger, and isolation, they formed a powerful emotional and intellectual alliance that saved both of their lives. Margalit Fox brings her “nose for interesting facts, the ability to construct a taut narrative arc, and a Dickens-level gift for concisely conveying personality” (Kathryn Schulz, New York) to this tale of psychological strategy that is rife with cunning, danger, and moments of high farce that rival anything in Catch-22.