Opening Line: “It was about nine o’clock one bleak November day that the key rattles in the heavy lock of my cell in the Lubyanka Prison and the two broad-shouldered guards marched purposely in.”
Wow what an amazing story, epic is I guess more the word I’m looking for. I read this after watching the movie The Way Back and as is usually the case the book is much better, vastly different yet obviously maintaining the gist of the year long trek across an entire continent to freedom. As a point of interest (or not) Colin Farrell’s tattooed gang character does not exist in the book. Anyways…
Slavomir Rawicz wrote this memoir in 1959 as a form of therapy to escape the memories that still haunted him. It has lost nothing with time however and remains one of the most incredible journeys of strength, endurance and human spirit you’ll ever read.
Thus begins his journey. Transferred during the dead of winter Slav somehow survives the 3000 mile cattle car train ride and subsequent chain gang death march into inner Siberia and camp 303 in Yakutsk After enduring starvation, cold, illness and brutality he and six other prisoners escape.
Together they cross an entire continent on foot with nothing more than an axe, a knife, a weeks worth of food and an unbreakable will to live. Covering some of the most inhospitable conditions on earth they travel out of Siberia and through China, across the Gobi dessert into Tibet and finally over the Himalayas and into British India. This is where the epic part comes in because their journey is so brutal, so filled with despair and suffering its at times unbelievable and also impossible to put down.
The LONG WALK is written very factually and Slav doesn’t ever tell us how he feels, he just gives a meticulous account of what is taking place. However for this type of storytelling it was perfect. Included in this 1997 version is an afterwards with some of the readers most persistent questions answered. What Slav’s life was like after The Long Walk, What happened to the other men? Did he ever see them again?
This is a story I won’t ever forget and I highly recommend. I mean they walked from Siberia to India, just think about that for a second.