Too undisciplined and unhealthy to join the military, he pitched a wild notion to a London newspaper editor: why not make him their war correspondent in Berlin? The editor called the boy's bluff, and Pyke made his way across Europe on little more than a false passport, a pretty good German accent, and sheer chutzpah.
And so begins an odyssey into the heart of wartime Berlin, and a plunge into a harrowing year of solitary confinement and imprisonment at Ruhleben, a horsetrack-turned-internment camp that is now considered the model for Germany's concentration camps. After an escape in broad daylight, and a perilous dash across the German countryside to the Dutch border, Pyke returned home at the age of 20 to write TO RUHLEBEN - AND BACK, the first eyewitness account of a German concentration camp.
Lost to obscurity for over 80 years, his extraordinary book is a college student's sharp-tongued travelogue, a journey of hair-breadth escapes behind enemy lines, a sober meditation on imprisonment and escape ... and, as Pyke intended, a ripping yarn.