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Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9780349136288

Price: £30

ON SALE: 3rd September 2024

Genre: Humanities / History

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Ponar, Lithuania. 1944. The Nazis have enslaved Jewish men to exhume and incinerate the bodies of more than 70,000 Jews previously shot to death in the forest. Trapped in almost unimaginable horror, a group develop an audacious escape plan. Despite being guarded day and night, they dig a tunnel with their bare hands. Twelve men escape – an act of great bravery and desperation as well as extraordinary imagination.

Based on first-person accounts of the escapees and on every scrap of evidence that has been documented, repressed or amplified since, No Road Leading Back resurrects the lives of the twelve and their acts of witness, as well as providing an urgent analysis of why their story has rarely been told – and never accurately. Author Chris Heath explores the cultural use and misuse of Holocaust testimony and the need for us to face uncomfortable historical truths with honesty and accuracy.

This shattering and inspiring true story of prisoners who dug their way out of torture and imprisonment by the Nazis is both a stunning escape narrative and an object lesson in how we remember and continually forget the particulars of the Holocaust.


Utterly absorbing in its powerfully detailed horror and inspiring redemption: a must-read in Holocaust studies.
Kirkus Reviews
This is one of the best books written about The Shoah by Bullets. Clearly written, superbly researched, it's a fascinating reminder of an unjustly neglected story about The Holocaust
David Herman
"Chris Heath has finally given the horror of Ponar the sustained and concentrated attention it deserves. He has left no stone unturned in his effort to understand what happened in this terrible place, and to reinscribe its survivors' stories back into historical memory. I was stunned by this book's scope, rigor, and compassion. A monumental work of reportage and commemoration."
Heather Clark, author of Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath
The present moment is an argument for the urgency of this book. A monumental act of reconstruction, it helps restore historical specificity to an unfathomable reality too easily turned into a politically expedient metaphor that has made Holocaust inversion the latest in a litany of ancient calumnies.
Jonathan Rosen, author of The Best Minds: A Story of Friendship, Madness, and the Tragedy of Good Intentions
The stories of these men will unsettle and change you. Anyone who cares about human nature and the question of good and evil owes this author their admiration and gratitude.
Rich Cohen, author of The Avengers: A Jewish War Story