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Shallow Graves in Siberia [Paperback]

Michael Krupa
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
RRP: 6.99
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Book Description

12 July 2004
Michael Krupa was born into a poor family in south-west Poland, and in his teens was accepted into a Jesuit seminary. He ran away before taking his final vows and joined the army. Soon afterwards, the German tanks rolled into Poland and easily defeated her antiquated forces - the Polish cavalry were armed with sabres. Krupa survived Hitler's invasion, but was arrested in Soviet-occupied eastern Poland and accused of spying. After enduring torture in Moscow's notorious Lubianka prison, he was sentenced to ten years' corrective labour and deported to the Pechora Gulag. Most prisoners there were worked and starved to death within a year. But Krupa managed again to escape, and in the chaos following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union made one of the most extraordinary journeys of the war - from Siberia to safety in Afghanistan. Krupa's Jesuit training had given him an inner strength and resilience which enabled him to survive in the face of appalling brutality and cruelty. Luck and the kindness of strangers helped him complete his epic journey to freedom. The story of the suffering inflicted on millions in Stalin's camps has been told before - but Krupa's story is remarkable and uni

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Birlinn Ltd (12 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843410125
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843410126
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"an extraordinary testimony to the strength of the human spirit when it has to contend with beasts in human form. Anyone who still hankers after Stalin's Russia should be made to read it, and repent. The rest of us can read it and admire his strength of heart' - Michael Foot; 'gives an in-depth picture of both the terror and a land at war, where man is desperate for liberty and security in an almost superhuman urge to survive - In Sudock"

About the Author

Michael Krupa was born in Rudnik, near Krakow, and trained to be a Jesuit before joining the 13th regiment of the Polish cavalry in 1937. After his extraordinary exploits during the Second World War he moved to Britain and settled in West Yorkshire, where he still lives.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shallow graves but deep emotions! 9 July 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Whilst the accounts of the horrors of the gulags are now well documented this book brings a real sense of emotion to the facts. Just when the reader is convinced of the absolute brutality of the Russian people the description of the peasant couple, who selflessly endanger their freedom to help Krupa gain his, makes you think again! It really is a book to be read in one sitting but beware, on completion you will feel exhausted.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very moving/touching/emotional read. 15 Jan 2011
An excellent book, well written, which I found difficult to put down. The author's descriptions of his horrendous experiences are very moving. Highly recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, just hope it's true :) 3 Sep 2012
By Bridgey
//This true story details the journey of Michael Krupa. Captured by the Soviets and accused of being a German spy he is tortured and sentenced to a term in the notorious Russian Gulags. Whilst there he acquires a prestigious and trusted job as a Telephone repair man, a job that allows him weeks of travel unescorted, he soon begins to think of escape.

We follow his trek fromSiberia to safety in Afghanistan.

In the novel there are some graphic details of torture (including a woman interogator who removes tesicles with a poker), and many touching moments (such as the help given by strangers, in particular a couple who's son has also gone missing into the Gulags).

I really enjoyed this book, the only reason I gave it 4 stars was that a number of reviews have questioned the integrity of the authors story. I don't know if it is all true, but I would certainly like to think so.

22/9/13 - I have received a comment on here from the Authors daughter, and this made me want to reread the book again. Having done so, I have now altered the rating to 5 stars. And would urge everyone to try the book and be amazed at the adventures. :)
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and moving 16 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A gripping tale, made all the more poignant and shocking since it is all true. Similar to tales of the holocaust, Michael Krupa's book should be read by anyone wanting an insight into the realities of dispair and the dehumanisation techniques of a regime (here the Soviet Stalinist one) that cares only for its own order, power and prowess. This is how low some humans can stoop to given the right combination of tools and appointed dictators bent solely on absolute power at all costs. Shallow Graves is also a very uplifting book showing how the human spirit can survive the hardest of situations and conditions and the lengths one will go to obtain freedom. Krupa does an excellent job of keeping us hooked to the very last page. The prose are uncluttered, clear and 'to the point' which makes the account of his escape to freedom all the more powerful and moving. Indeed the last half of the book reads like a virtual thriller. I found this book a superb read, and an important and moving account that I didn't want to end, and one that will stay with me for the rest of me life.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Story 12 Sep 2006
What Michael Krupa lived through is incredible. In telling this story, Krupa did not need to embellish or exaggerate. No fiction writer could not have come up with this kind of horror. Once I began to read the book, I could not put it down and finished it in one sitting!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible true story 20 Dec 2006
Michael Krupa is an absorbing writer and I read this book very quickly. The story of his life, tragically caught up in the Communist Gulag, is the most fascinating true story I have read. I recommend this book for people who are interested in finding out more about the Gulag.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most amazing true story I've ever read... 12 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This is the most amazing story of one man's escape across Russia, giving him a unique view of the Soviet regime in action, which no-one has been able to tell before.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WORTH READING! 16 Dec 2013
By imogen
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a story! Life writes the scenarios that we do not even dream of. Mr. Michał was not the only one who survived the tragedy of war, but he was one of the "few" who wanted to talk about it. Sometimes these experiences was easier to hold in themselves, because they were so terrible and returning to them so painful that man prefers to hide them as deeply in themself as possible. About the book, you may think that this is pure fiction, but I know that it is true that Mr. Michał is a survivor. How I know this, because I saw the trace of a bullet in his neck … I had the incredible pleasure of meeting Mr. Michał three years ago and sit on a chair in his living room and listen with bated breath to his story ... A tear in the eye turns as you hear these stories and you can only come to the conclusion how lucky we are to be alive here and now. You have to appreciate and ask that such stories will NEVER happen again.

Michael Krupa died on 6th October 2013 aged 98

Niech spoczywa w spokoju.

Polakowi Polka
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Plucky and lucky
What a story this man has to tell. Torn from his home and family during the war and subjected to incredible hardship in Russia. Read more
Published 2 months ago by patricia oliver
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent read, hard to put down. Inspiring, touching & very well told story of one man's determination for survival throughout cruel times of WWII.
Published 2 months ago by Joanna
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping true story of human strength.
If you ever doubt that freedom is worth fighting for read this book. A compelling read that is hard to put down and will stay with you for some time after reading.
Published 3 months ago by Mr. C. F. Bone
5.0 out of 5 stars A very tough story, a very tough man
Absolutely gripping, a brilliant thriller if it was fiction, being non fiction makes the reading all the more can't put downable. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Derek
5.0 out of 5 stars Siberia
An absolute stunning book which gave an insight as to how the Stalinist country worked. The lack of concern for human life and the survival or otherwise of people of Poland . Read more
Published 4 months ago by GeraldH
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling!
Book of determination, hope, strength and faith amazing story ! I would recommend to anyone to read thank you Michael for sharing your journey with us all.
Published 4 months ago by trixie
5.0 out of 5 stars a simple man
a brilliant record of another world not so far away and how a simple man against all the odds came through
Published 7 months ago by THE TOTAL NOVICE
I thought this book would be bigger since the author was supposed to have escaped through Afghanistan. I read it because I bought it but it was a struggle. Read more
Published on 22 Jun 2012 by Mervyn Plummer
1.0 out of 5 stars Read one, read them all
If you haven't read similar books you may enjoy this one. I found it boring as it is no different to lots of others of a similar elk, apart from the fact that I found I simply did... Read more
Published on 1 May 2012 by Avid reader
4.0 out of 5 stars inspiring
Once I picked this book up I had difficulty putting it down. It really exposes the cruelty of Stalins Soviet regime. It made me think how would I have coped in this situation. Read more
Published on 26 April 2012 by raver
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