The French called it Maison Central, a generic name for a colonial prison. The Vietnamese knew it as Hỏa Lò, which translates to “fiery furnace,” after the wood stove shops common in the surrounding neighborhood. Westerners know it best as the Hanoi Hilton. Whatever its name, the notorious prison housed a century of torture within its walls.
Stuck in an East African prison camp in 1943, Italian POW Felice Benuzzi needed a challenge to regain his sense of purpose. He made a plan that seemed crazy — to break out of the camp, climb Mount Kenya, and break back in. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll follow Benuzzi and two companions as they try to climb the second-highest mountain in Africa using homemade equipment.
We’ll also consider whether mirages may have doomed the Titanic and puzzle over an ineffective oath.