Or-how to get out of prison in eleven hard lessons, with expert instruction in filing, burrowing and building rope ladders. These fictionalized accounts of men who managed seemingly impossible escapes, often with no resources but their own ingenuity and tenacity, have a certain macabre fascination and a certain monotony. Most of the men have no distinction beyond this single feat, and no particular individuality; they cannot even be called brave, for often they had nothing to lose. Robert Alter is an old hand at action, and the stories are necessarily fast-paced. A thin rope for the reluctant reader.