Greetings Mike Levy,
Teenage readers and young adults like the fast-paced action and humorous incidents in the book "Without Vodka: Adventures in Wartime Russia" written by Aleksander Topolski. In this autobiographical account, Aleks tells how he was taken prisoner at age 16 by Soviet soldiers for trying to cross the border of Soviet-occupied Poland into Romania. His aim was to join the new Polish army being formed to fight Hitler's army.
Aleks spent two years in Soviet prisons and the northern Gulag work camps before being released and making his way south via the TransSiberian Railway to find the Polish army being organized by Anders. The final three chapters recount training with that starving army in Uzbekistan and escaping with other soldiers from Stalin's "paradise" by riding on the hot deck of an oil tanker across the Caspian Sea from Krasnovodsk to Pahlevi (now known as Anzali) in Iran. There they were welcomed by British troops who soon clothed them in British uniforms and fed them well.
"Without Vodka" has been praised for giving an accurate description of the grim conditions faced by the men and women who formed the backbone of Anders Army. They loved and respected their General, knowing that he too had lived through near starvation as a Soviet captive. Most believed that they owed their escape from Stalin's regime to the skill, strength and devotion to his fellow Poles