Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Book Review: The Long Walk

"The Long Walk," Slavomir Rawicz, 242 pages.

The next time you feel whiny about the circumstances of your poor, pitiful life, pick up Slavomir Rawiez's classic "The Long Walk." It is an absolute must-read for those who enjoy real life adventure stories. I found it so compelling I could barely put it down. It is a real life account of the Polish author's harrowing escape from a Siberian labor camp in World War 2. He and his companions traverse thousands of miles on foot; out of Yakutsk and down to India. Essentially this book is about suffering and man's ability to endure it. Rawicisz's matter of fact narration makes for a story that is lacking in poetic enhancement but loses nothing for it; the facts of the story presented in a simple non-dramatic fashion lure the reader into the story. I was a little worried about the non-English as the original language issue, but the translation from the Polish is very good.

I found two shocking elements to this story; first the evil of man. When you hear the kind of torture that these men went through, you wonder how anyone could do this. The Russian torture techniques started with something called the "kishka, a chimney like cell into which one stepped down about a foot below the level of the corridor outside. Inside a man could stand and no more. The walls pressed round like a stone coffin Twenty feet above there was diffused light from one, small, out-of-sight window . . . we excreted standing up and stood in our own filth. The kishka was never cleaned . . ." The second shocking element to this story was what a couple of men desiring freedom are of capable of. I found the courage of these men as they fought near impossible odds to be very inspiring. It also made my personal challenges look rather pathetic in comparison (which they are). I dont want to give away too much of the story, but let me tell you that victory and tragedy both get their fair share in this book. I give this book 4.5 ninja stars out of five.

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