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The Long Walk: The Story that Inspired the Major Motion Picture: The Way Back: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom [Paperback]

Slavomir Rawicz
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (365 customer reviews)

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Book Description

16 Dec 2010
Slavomir Rawicz was a young Polish cavalry officer. On 19 November 1939 he was arrested by the Russians and after brutal interrogation he was sentenced to 25 years in the Gulags. After a 3-month journey to Siberia in the depths of winter he escaped with 6 companions, realising that to stay in the camp meant almost certain death. In June 1941 they crossed the trans-Siberian railway and headed south, climbing into Tibet and freedom 9 months later in March 1942 after travelling on foot through some of the harshest regions in the world, including the Gobi Desert. First published in 1956, this is one of the world's greatest true stories of adventure, survival and escape.

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (16 Dec 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849012091
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849012096
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (365 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 451,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


One of the most epic treks of the human race...It must be read - and re-read. --Sebastian Junger

An heroic tale desperately live and compellingly told, Rawicz carries us with each weakening step, sustained by his simple undying vision of the liberty that lies beyond the cruel emptiness of Siberia and the sterile gravles of the Gobi. The Long Walk is an odyssey through the wastelands of Asia and the vastness of the soul - a classic of triumph over despair, of beauty found in the Void. --Benedict Allen

Positively Homeric. --Cyril Connolly, The Times

About the Author

Slavomir Rawicz was born in Pinsk in 1915. After his ordeal of The Long Walk he settled in England in 1944 were he remained for the rest of his life working in education. He died in 2004.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
183 of 189 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From paranoid nightmare to a triumph of survival. 30 July 2001
By A Customer
From page one this is a gripping and absorbing read. We start off with the capture and imprisonment of Polish cavalry officer Slavomir Rawicz, an ordeal that Franz Kafka would have been proud to have written. Accused of spying on the Russians, Slavomir is brutually tortured and beaten before being given a farcical trail that ends up with him being given the sentence of 25 years in a Siberian forced labour camp, on the basis of no evidence and a forged confession. It is here that the action begins to kick in to a more gung-ho spirit. Loaded into freezing cold railway cars and then slowly "chugged" across Russia, almost four thousand miles, to what was thought to be the prison. More agony is piled onto the men as they are chained together and frog marched hundreds of miles through bitter winds and biting snow blizzards until many weeks and many deaths later, prisoners and guards alike, the men finally arrive at their destination. It is a tribute to the writer that while writing of his tribulations he never once seems to feel bitter outrage or acrimony against his Siberian jailers, rather he feels an apathy for them as it seems to be indicated that even the guards here are victims of some small fault against the Russian mother state. Once the prison camp is reached, fans of great escape stories will become gripped as allegiances are formed and slowly an escape plan is hatched. To write too much would be to give too much away, but surfice to say that the team of seven men escape with some help from a very unexpected source and the escape is well and truly underway. Read more ›
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific story of perseverence 5 Aug 1999
By A Customer
....I tend to re-read this book in its entirety every year or so. I also read random chapters much more often and I have probably read this book more times than any other book that I own (The Great Escape comes second).
It's a great story of the hardships endured by prisoners of the Russian system in the early years of world war 2 and covers the capture of Slavomir Rawics while an officer in the Polish cavalry, his interrogation in Russia (for the crime of being a Polish cavalry officer) and the train journey and forced march to the Siberian prison camp with many deaths along the way. With the co-operation of the commandant's wife he has the opportunity to escape and finally does so with a small group of like minded prisoners.
Then begins another long period of torment as they set out to walk south to freedom, which they finally achieve in India.
A great read.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and Inspirational 22 Mar 2010
Every now and again one comes across a book which though is so clearly the experience of the author it nevertheless beggars belief. It is, though, almost impossible to believe that anyone could make up so many elements of this epic. The author is a man who writes compellingly; I truly found it hard to put down, almost led on by the horror and relentless suffering as by wanting to know what happened next. Please don't be put off by that statement, though. The horror was real, is real as you read it, but the dominating feeling is one of the towering human Spirit that overcomes the incredible adversity this man and his friends endured. This book inspired me and left me wondering how on Earth anyone could get through this, and how would I fare under those conditions? The truth is I don't know but I fear nowhere near as well. If you want a book that is inspiring and leaves you breathless, this is one to buy.
Some months later . .
Since writing the review above I have come across criticism and a heated debate over the possibility that this book was not written by the author but plagiarised from another's work and dressed up considerably.
The thought this may be so was disappointing but on examining the evidence I find myself still believing in the authenticity of this book and the author. There are too many questions of a fundamental nature that even the author's detractors do not address and some take on controversial elements in the book and use prejudice as part of the argument to undermine the whole thing.
The author is no longer around to defend himself - how many times does THAT happen! - and so it is ultimately left to the reader to decide and then it becomes a matter of opinion. I do, however, believe in the book, the story and the author and the more I consider it the more I find reasons to. Unfortunately detractors find the sounds of their own voices preferably to reasoned and considered thought.
Buy this book, be inspired and be moved.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping 14 May 2011
By Christian VINE VOICE
This is the tale of an escape from prison; but more than that the indefagitable human spirit overcoming incredible challenges. The story of wrongful imprisonment and the torture that Slavomir goes through is harrowing enough. The following tale of his escape from Siberia is even more so. The journey takes an incredible toll both physically, mentally and emotionally and the pages flew by.

Whatever brings you to this tale, read it as a story of the untold strength of humanity.
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational story of human courage. 22 Jan 2001
Once I started to read this book I quite literally couldn't put it down. Slavomir's inhuman treatment in Russian prisons after his arrest was quite graphic. The 3-week rail journey taken by the prisoners to Eastern Siberia in the depths of winter with almost no food or water meant that older or weaker men died quickly in the icy cold box-cars. Those who survived that ordeal then had to walk 1000 miles to their camp in the far north. The story really begins with the escape-an adventure of truly epic proportions follows as they journey to India some 4000 miles away. Always they meet with people who have little themselves but are willing to share their homes and their food with the strangers. Several of them die on the journey. The crossing of the Gobi Desert made me wonder how they could possibly survive for 12 days without water in that environment. The encounter with yeti in the Himalayas caused me to question how much of the story was fact and how much was fiction. But that doesn't spoil a story that will remain in readers hearts for long afterwards. Has anyone thought of turning this amazing story into a feature film?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read. Like others I find it hard to ...
A good read. Like others I find it hard to believe someone can survive so much. I am looking forward to reading around the subject, especially the book about the search for the... Read more
Published 7 days ago by ces london
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A good read
Published 7 days ago by Richard
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 8 days ago by Ginnette Gibbs
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 10 days ago by j g hames
2.0 out of 5 stars Of course this is my opinion and you might like it instead
Not sure how much this is real.. After reading A. Solzhenitsyn and V. Shalamov, I had a feeling that this guy never went to a gulag. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Piero
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely must read
If this was fiction you would think the author had lost his mind. Because no sane person could ever dream up such a story. Read more
Published 11 days ago by doommuppet
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brill read. Could not put it down.
Published 13 days ago by William S Day
3.0 out of 5 stars Did detract from my enjoyment but still coudn't stop reading
Utterly gripping. Researched it half way through reading and discovered the controversy surrounding its authenticity. Did detract from my enjoyment but still coudn't stop reading.
Published 17 days ago by Jim Jim Josiah
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable story by a remarkable gentleman
I used to be Slavomir's postman when he lived near Nottingham. I will never forget the time I was in his house, which was full of letters from around the World praising his book,... Read more
Published 19 days ago by Trevor J. Foster
5.0 out of 5 stars Dxcellent
A must read for any fan of the 2nd world war rudely an epic story of 8 people's escape to freedom
Published 1 month ago by jack reinholds
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