Feb 14, 2013

The Long Walk

by Slavomir Rawicz

I read this long ago off my father's bookshelf. It's one of the best adventure stories I've ever read, even if the accuracy of the events have since been questioned. (Which I just discovered). It's about a small group of Polish men who escape a Soviet labor camp and make a perilous 4,000-mile trek south across the Gobi Desert, Tibet and the Himalaya mountains in order to reach freedom and sanctuary in India (then occupied by the British). I remember vividly, even after so many years, the challenges to their survival, hardships with few supplies, the arguments which threatened the venture, the drive which pushed them to continue when all stamina was gone, and most particularly, that at one point they were driven by thirst to attempt recycling their own urine. Ugh.

I also remember the ending; how the men staggered into a restaurant and were refused service because of their dirty, ragged appearance. How they were hospitalized but so consumed with the ordeal they'd just been through that even though now safe, they kept stumbling out of their beds to continue walking. That image of the starved, ill, exhausted men still trying to keep on walking when they no longer had to, somehow stayed with me a long time.

This is definitely a book I want to read again, if I find a copy (my library doesn't have it, nor my personal collection). Even if it never really happened, it's still a great story.

Rating: 4/5 ........ 246 pages, 1956

a few more opinions:
Confessions of a Writer
Book Reviews from an Avid Reader
Smithereens

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