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4.4 out of 5 stars63
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 23 August 2012
I've read reviews about "too much macho rubbish" and "artistic licence" but I can't see it myself. James Miles talks about them just wanting their mums after their initial arrest, and hugging each other whilst crying after witnessing a gang rape. I don't see any macho boasting at all. He mentions that he became respected at fighting, which is believable when he goes on to say that he's over 6 feet tall and athletically built (the proof is in the pictures),that most Venezuelans appeared to be 5 feet 5 and slightly built. No boasting there, just straightforward fact. James Miles (or his ghost writer!) has a real knack of taking you there and putting you in the situation. After all is said and done they did time in one of the worst prisons in the entire world. They survived. I spent 6 days in a German jail and I witnessed no rape, violence or corruption. It was probably the most daunting time of my life. What those boys went through is staggering. But they came through it and although at first they appear to be a pair of idiot boys, by the end of it they're two brave, tenacious men. Whatever they get in royalties from this book, they deserve it.
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on 28 March 2012
I love Banged Up Abroad and am a huge fan of biographies such as this. The story is great and a lot of it is well written, but i felt that now and again certain rude boy 'lingo' was used when it wasn't really needed and it didnt really fit in with the generally well worded narrative. Words like 'pukka' and 'geezer' and 'beef' just felt like they had been put in to show what a hard-man Jim was trying to be. A personal favourite was 'willy-nilly'. Frankly made him sound like a twit. I also cant help a lot of was exaggerated to show how 'scary' he was in prison. This just resulted in making him unlikeable. He showed no humility and that makes me feel sorry he wasnt in prison for longer.
The story, however, is gripping and interesting. Perhaps a better author and editor would have been less of a downfall.
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on 23 June 2011
First thing you're going to do is hate these lads. Within a few paragraphs words like "wasters" and "plonkers" will flit through your head. But that's not their fault and there are millions like them. And to their credit they admit they're weren't the sharpest tools in the box. By the end of this truly astonishing book, though, you'll have no doubts about what they've become...the sort of people you want in your corner when the chips are down.

This is the story of two bored lads who thought, or were suckered into thinking, that they could make a quick few quid smuggling cocaine. They couldn't. After being set up they soon found themselves thrown into Venezuela's notorious prison system, or Hell as it's otherwise known.
Rape, murder, guns, grenades, knife-fights, rats, lethal insects, bent warders, killer guards, corruption, drugs and filth. Then they were sent to the REALLY nasty prison, Yare, where gang warfare, slaughter and mayhem featured daily.

To say they were quickly toughened up is to understate the case by a significant factor. An outer layer of English indolence was shed to reveal true British millstone grit. When you read what they lived through and how they coped, words will fail you. Luckily, words didn't fail them and they survived to tell their harrowing tale, one that will make any fool considering chancing their arm with drugs think hard and long.

Banged Up Abroad has got to be the definitive book of its kind. It can leave you scarred, not to mention a little bit more wary on your overseas holidays. This is a Five-Star book that will leave you with the conclusion that if these lads had started out with brains as big as their b***s they'd give Stephen Hawking a run for his money.
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on 6 March 2012
Whilst I appreciate that the protagonists begin almost immediately by expressing their remorse at the actions which led to their imprisonment, I feel like they have become detached from the people they were whilst in prison.

It is clear that their imprisonment has affected them for the worse, both men describe having nightmares/flashbacks and are even later diagnosed with PTSD but there is no hiding the fact that they do not see an issue with the types of situations they were involved in during their stint in prison - from accidentally having a rogue attorney killed, to the many violent situations they found themselves in, usually ending in bloodshed. It appears that this was just "the done thing", and I just don't believe that two young men, cast almost as naive, 'wide-eyed innocents' at the beginning could adjust so quickly to such extreme violence. There is never an apology for these acts, only for the initial act which landed them inside, and for me, it casts an unwelcome glaze over the story, one where it appears the boys are only sorry for their actions because of the situation it put them in.

I would recommend this book as an eye-opening look at South American prisons, but not if you're looking for the story of someone who has learned from their mistakes.
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on 31 July 2012
This is the true life story of James Miles and Paul Loseby. It is about what happened when they agreed to smuggle drugs to Venezuelan. They got caught and was sent to some of the worst prisons in the world. The book is mainly from James' point of view but they wrote the book together.

This was seen on Banged up Abroad but the book is able to go into much more detail of what James and Paul went through.

The book is so readable, I finished this in only one weekend. The horrors that they go through is unimaginable and I don't know how they survived. Yes they made a huge mistake in agreeing to smuggle drugs but they have more than paid for their mistakes. You can't read this book without feeling empathy for them.

What I love about this book is how honest James is about what went on in prison including how he became himself. He is not proud of the things he did and this comes across in the book.

A definate must read but be warned - it plays on your mind even after you've finished it!
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on 23 June 2013
I have read many biographical books and to be honest, this is not of the best, it was good in parts but found it to be a bit far fetched in others, but saying that I hope any youngsters that read this book will think twice before doing something stupid.
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on 23 July 2013
I read some of the reviews of this book before I bought it, and I'm glad I ignored some of them and bought it anyway.
At times it was very difficult to read, the treatment of inmates, and the way they treated each other, was gut wrenchingly horrendous and beyond humanity.
But it's also the story of two boys who made a big mistake, paid for it in the most unimaginable way and came out the other side, grown up and willing to hold up their hands and take responsibility for themselves.
To Paul and James, I wish you peace within yourselves, and happy, long and free lives. And I thank you for the courage you found to share your story, no holds barred.
If you stop two more boys doing the same thing, what you have done in writing your book can only be good.
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on 23 March 2014
I enjoyed this book. They do have a brilliant story to tell. Some readers think it is exaggerated at times, but having seen Ross Kemp's excellent show, Extreme Worlds, I can fully believe everything mentioned about South American prison life. My only issue is the lack of emotion from the author. Possibly due to his ability to switch off from emotion as a survival mechanism used in the prisons. He also comes across as a bit of a 'hard man' who isn't to be messed with. Something that does get annoying after a while. Also, never use words such as 'geezer', 'pucker', 'mint' just sounds immature. I would have liked a bit more detail about their life after prison and how they adjusted to being back in the UK.
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on 28 July 2013
Sometimes when reading this , you do have to think ... Is this a wind up? Something's are just too far fetched to be true! Storyline is abit all over the place, but still not a bad read
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on 1 April 2012
When I began reading this book I initially felt a great deal of sympathy towards these two young lads (although they never ask for sympathy). My first impression was they were young, desperate, nieve, even perhaps dumb lads who got caught up smuggling drugs, got caught and thrown into a hellhole prison. However as their story unfolds I began to loose some of that sympathy as I realised these lads were far from dumb or nieve and adapted remarkably well to prison life becoming as hard if not harder and tougher than some of those already serving time. This rather surprised me and was not what I expected to read - although sounds like they had no choice, it was either toughen up or die. Maybe they were not as nieve or innocent as I was thinking initially to adapt so well. I dont know. It would have been nice if they had shared with the reader more "emotion" about being in prison instead of acting tough guys throughout. The continual hard-man/toughman for me got a little tiresome in places and I found myself skipping some of the pages thinking here we go again, more of the same, knife stuff, guns,drugs etc (but then what else is there in these types of hellholes). That being said, its well written and a good read - although personally (as a woman) it was a bit too "blokey" for me compared to some other prison stories but I think they did a good job telling their remarkable story.
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