|A statue of Father O'Flaherty in his hometown of Killarney|
Both the book and film show the dangerous games played to outwit the Germans as they hunted for escaped POWs. The film was very true to the book (except when it was necessary to combine several characters into one person) and covered all the main incidents. The book, on the other hand, fleshed out the characters, added a few extra hair-raising events, and ended differently. Whereas the book highlighted hundreds of acts of kindness done by O'Flaherty at the war's end, the movie condensed them into one huge act of mercy. Frankly, I loved both endings.
The book does a better job of explaining why there were hundreds of POWs roaming around the Vatican and also explains why the Italians were so willing to look the other way when O'Flaherty and others hid them. Gallagher shows how O'Flaherty's audacity and trustfulness were balanced by the caution and discernment of the others in the rescue organization. His descriptions of the resourcefulness of butler John May from the English embassy had me chortling all the way through.
Get this title if you enjoy stories of heroism on the homefront.