The Greatest Escape: A True American Adventure tells the story of the largest prison breakout in US history. It took place during the Civil War, when more than 100 Yankee officers were put in Libby, a special prison considered escape-proof, in the Confederate capitol of Richmond, Virginia.
The majority of the men, obsessed with freedom, mapped out an elaborate escape plan and on one moonless night, 109 men dug their way to freedom. Freezing, starving, clad in rags, they still had to travel 40 miles to the Yankee lines and freedom. They were pursued by the whites in the area, but every black person they encountered was their friend. On many occasions, slaves risked their lives to help these Union men, and their journey was aided by a female-led Union spy network.
Since all the escapees were officers, they could all read and write. Over 50 of them kept journals and published riveting accounts of their adventures. This is the first book to weave together these contemporary accounts into a true-to-life narrative. Much like a Ken Burns documentary, the book uses the actual words of the prisoners uttered more than 150 years ago, as found in their diaries and journals.
Douglas Miller is a documentary filmmaker and writer/producer on more than 20 documentaries aired on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and Showtime, notably the series “The Color of War,” “Modern Marvels,” and “Boneyards.” He lives in Studio City, CA.