The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz (Paperback)
  • The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz (Paperback)

The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz (Paperback)

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Paperback 528 Pages / Published: 09/01/2020
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Waterstones Says

Former war reporter and author of The Good War, Jack Fairweather brings an expert’s understanding to the first history of Witold Pilecki, the Polish resistance agent who infiltrated Auschwitz, feeding back vital intelligence to the Allied forces. Impeccably researched and grippingly written, Fairweather’s important book illuminates the life of a forgotten hero, providing a significant new perspective on the horrors of the final solution and those who fought to prevent it.

Winner of the Costa Book of the Year 2019

Winner of the Costa Biography Award 2019

Would you sacrifice yourself to save thousands of others?

In the Summer of 1940, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, an underground operative called Witold Pilecki accepted a mission to uncover the fate of thousands of people being interned at a new concentration camp on the border of the Reich.

His mission was to report on Nazi crimes and raise a secret army to stage an uprising. The name of the detention centre -- Auschwitz.

It was only after arriving at the camp that he started to discover the Nazi's terrifying plans. Over the next two and half years, Witold forged an underground army that smuggled evidence of Nazi atrocities out of Auschwitz. His reports from the camp were to shape the Allies response to the Holocaust - yet his story was all but forgotten for decades.

This is the first major account to draw on unpublished family papers, newly released archival documents and exclusive interviews with surviving resistance fighters to show how he brought the fight to the Nazis at the heart of their evil designs.

The result is an enthralling story of resistance and heroism against the most horrific circumstances, and one man's attempt to change the course of history.

Publisher: Ebury Publishing
ISBN: 9780753545188
Number of pages: 528
Weight: 354 g
Dimensions: 198 x 126 x 126 mm


'Journalist Jack Fairweather's account of Pilecki's bravery, endurance and humanity is the well deserved winner of the 2019 Costa biography award. As he says. Pilecki's story is "essential for our understanding of how Auschwitz came into being. "' - The Guardian

'... rises admirably to the challenge of Pilecki's extraordinary story' - The Saturday Times

'Totally gripping ... A fascinating, revelatory and surreal WWII story of almost incredible courage and unspeakable horror - how a Polish resistance fighter helped reveal the secret of the final solution from inside Auschwitz.' - Simon Sebag Montefiore 

'A remarkable book. Fairweather's account is often harrowing; but it is an important account of the suffering and tragedy in Nazi death camps, told using many previously unpublished sources - and from a new perspective.' - Peter Frankopan 

'Well-researched, well-written and searingly memorable, Jack Fairweather's book reminds us of the capacity for nobility in the human soul in times of unimaginable peril.' - Andrew Roberts, bestselling author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny

'Few books have enthralled, incensed and haunted me as The Volunteer has done. There were times I felt compelled to set it aside. There were others when hours of reading passed in what felt like moments ... This is a story that has long deserved a robust, faithful telling, and he has delivered it.' - Wall Street Journal 

'An extraordinary story.' - The Times

'Superbly written and breathtakingly researched ... a story of incalculable value delivered in the most compelling prose I have read in a long time.' - Sebastian Junger

'What distinguishes The Volunteer is Fairweather's meticulous attention to accuracy ... if it sometimes seems as though there is nothing left to uncover about the Holocaust, Fairweather's gripping book proves otherwise.' - The Spectator 

'Combines the verve of a thriller with the detailed evidence of the sober, hideous truth.' - Anne de Courcy, The Telegraph

'A searing account ... a fitting memorial to one of Poland's greatest war heroes and a shaming indictment of the western allies' failure to act.' - Sunday Times

'Witold Pilecki is one of the great-perhaps the greatest-unsung heroes of the second world war ... Jack Fairweather's meticulous and insightful book is likely to be the definitive version of this extraordinary life.' - Economist

'An outstanding achievement ... a harrowing tale, revealing the depths of human depravity, redeemed by the shining courage and nobility of one of humanity's heroes.' - Patrick Bishop, bestselling author Fighter Boys

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“A Gripping Story of Resistance”

To many of us in the Polish community the story of Witold Pilecki is a very well known story of resistance and heroism. The problem has been the story has never been well known outside of that community. Due to the... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 63


This book is extraordinary. Incredibly well written and effectively highlights the dreadful plight of all those imprisoned by the Germans in Auschwitz. A book that must be read in order to expose the true atrocities... More

Paperback edition
Helpful? Upvote 21


An absolutely riveting book it opens your eyes to the absolute cruelty of times it's set in. It's a story that had to be recorded so never again could anything like this can happen again ever

Paperback edition
Helpful? Upvote 14

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