Ruhleben: A Prison Camp Society

By J. Davidson Ketchum
With a Foreword and Postscript by Robert B. Macleod

© 1965

This is an unusual book in that it is an important contribution to social psychology and also an absorbing story of four strange years in a German prison camp of World War I. Four thousand men and boys from the most varied walks of life—professors, seamen, jockeys, schoolboys, bank directors, musicians, clerks, scientists—were taken from civilian life and placed in Ruhleben on the outbreak of war; no activities were prescribed for them, no direction was given to their communal life. In the event, this miscellaneous group of people, closed off from the world, create d their own society. This book is the story of how they did it and what the society they made was like; much more than this, the camp provides a gifted and sympathetic social psychologist with a rare opportunity for study and analysis of an important if inadvertent social experiment. The time elapsed between the event itself and the completion of the book may in one way be regretted; it did, however, allow the author, who was himself and inmate of Ruhleben, the opportunity for mature reflection on its meaning. The book is a contribution to the history of World War I; it is also a basic and timeless study of the dynamics of individual and group behaviour.

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Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 422 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP006524

  • PUBLISHED FEB 2020

    From: $35.21

    Regular Price: $46.95

    ISBN 9781487525750
  • AVAILABLE JAN 2020

    From: $35.21

    Regular Price: $46.95

Quick Overview

This is an unusual book in that it is an important contribution to social psychology and also an absorbing story of four strange years in a German prison camp of World War I.

Ruhleben: A Prison Camp Society

By J. Davidson Ketchum
With a Foreword and Postscript by Robert B. Macleod

© 1965

This is an unusual book in that it is an important contribution to social psychology and also an absorbing story of four strange years in a German prison camp of World War I. Four thousand men and boys from the most varied walks of life—professors, seamen, jockeys, schoolboys, bank directors, musicians, clerks, scientists—were taken from civilian life and placed in Ruhleben on the outbreak of war; no activities were prescribed for them, no direction was given to their communal life. In the event, this miscellaneous group of people, closed off from the world, create d their own society. This book is the story of how they did it and what the society they made was like; much more than this, the camp provides a gifted and sympathetic social psychologist with a rare opportunity for study and analysis of an important if inadvertent social experiment. The time elapsed between the event itself and the completion of the book may in one way be regretted; it did, however, allow the author, who was himself and inmate of Ruhleben, the opportunity for mature reflection on its meaning. The book is a contribution to the history of World War I; it is also a basic and timeless study of the dynamics of individual and group behaviour.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 422 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Author Information

    J. Davidson Ketchum was studying music in Germany in 1914 when he was caught by the war and interned for four years in the prison camp at Ruhleben. The experience generated an interest in human problems which led him first to religion and then to psychology—and eventually to a distinguished career in the Department of Psychology in the University of Toronto, where he was a Professor at the time of his death, in 1962.


    Robert B. Macleod is Professor of Psychology at Cornell University.