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The Impossible Shore

By Robert Kee

For Johnny Clay, an English soldier in a German prison camp, the freedom which lay with the American forces on the western side of the Elbe River seemed an impossible shore.

Yet, with the single-mindedness of all prisoners, he believed that once out of confinement he would be free and the world a wonderful place in which to live. An illusion shattered when Russian tanks cut through the barbed wire of Hügeldorf and Johnny finds himself “liberated” into the chaotic world of the Russian military.

Rather than wait for official transportation, Johnny and fellow Englishman, Guy Rankin, set out secretly for the west shore of the Elbe, a countryside neither at war nor peace. Having been imprisoned for so long, both Johnny and Guy forget the outside world is not the one they knew and are blocked at every turn until they are taken into custody by Nikolai, an unpredictable Russian commandant. Forcibly quartered with Herr Kermbach and his daughter Charlotte, this arrangement would simultaneously bring peace and devastation for both Johnny and Guy.

The Impossible Shore is a vivid and unforgettable story about the human consequences of war and one man’s desperate attempts to gain the shore of personal happiness and freedom from uncertainty. A book for fans of Pat Barker and Sebastian Faulks.

Born in 1919, Robert Kee has a history degree from Oxford and has been writing ever since he left the RAF, in which he was a bomber pilot, in 1946. He has worked for Picture Postthe Observer and the Sunday Times, and has been a literary editor of the Spectator. He has also worked with the BBC and ITV on current affairs programmes and documentaries, and is well known for the award-winning BBC series Ireland: A Television History.

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