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on 30 July 2001
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. From the freezing savage Siberian snow plains to the complete opposite but perhaps more unbearable searing heat of the Gobi, with only a couple of sticks and a tin mug between them, the story will simultaneously make you cry, laugh and occasionally feel proud to be human as the better sides of a man's personality and being are brought to light in a truly touching way. The end of the book comes all too soon, and one feels saddened that we do not learn more of our heros, but perhaps the story needs to finish there as perhaps to learn too much of what happened later might take some of the power from the story; and although part of me would like to know for certain the eventual fate of our intrepid adventurers, I feel they are given a more mythical stature by only existing up to the point of thier journeys completion. Forget trashy, clever, oh so chic summer novels about marketing executives trying to find their Mister Right whilst obsessing about everything they possibly can and lose yourself in a good old fashioned ripping yarn that deserves to go down as one of the greatest stories ever told.
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VINE VOICEon 14 May 2011
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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on 5 August 1999
....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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on 22 March 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 preferable to reasoned and considered thought.
Buy this book, be inspired and be moved.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 June 2011
The storyline has already been well outlined by my fellow reviewers, so all I really need do is give you an idea of the impact this gripping true story of survival had on me. As a demanding reader, it takes well-written, engrossing storylines to grip and hold my attention, but the 'Long Walk' has this in spades. Throughout, your emotions are constantly engaged, juggling through both fear and hope for the characters, struggling with them through the deadening temperatures of winter, pushing them through exhaustion and drought. There are also some truly heartbreaking moments here, especially when they lose their young 'emblem' of hope, it almost seems as if the physical loss is also such a severe psychological and metaphorical loss, that all must end in failure.

Every time I put this book aside, I felt almost as if I was also drained by the endless adversity this stoic band had to endure. I celebrated in their triumphs, wept with their losses, and was gripped with the book throughout, finishing it within a weekend, such was its compulsive power. It made me truly grateful for my life of soft comfort, when compared to the harsh brutality of their lives, with the land and the elements even more pitiless than their initial gaolers. This is a book to read which celebrates the heroic nature of the human spirit, and the boundaries which can be overcome by the force of will and determination. It is also a perfect antidote to our often self-indulgent, materialistic lifestyles. If you're looking for a compelling, epic tale of survival against all the odds, you won't find a better written or more engaging account than this. Strongly recommended.
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on 22 January 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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on 19 December 2011
I have one of the original books published in 1954, it's old and rather grubby but I will not part with this book or loan it out. I lost this book in the early 70's, loaned it out and never got it back. Staying in Cape Town in 1992 I found the book and bought it home with me. Every few years I get the book out and read it once again their amazing story. I now see a film has been made of it and I'm sure it will be good but reading from the book itself has to be the best.
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on 10 June 2011
I purchased this book without knowing anything about it; the dust jacket review on the Kindle page was enough to pique my interest. Before beginning the story I took it as read that it was a totally true tale, but since finishing it I am more inclined to believe it is a fabricated but incredibly amazing account of an imagined 4000 mile journey.

I am very glad I started reading The Long Walk believing it was true. The ghost-written story of one man's arrest, conviction and journey to a labour camp in deepest Siberia was enough to have me hooked from the first page. The narrator's account of his treatment by the Russians did not seem in any way outrageous or over the top, just utterly barbaric and cruel.

The jailbreak and subsequent epic year-long journey out of Siberia, southwards through Russia, Mongolia, the Gobi Desert, the Tibetan plateau and the Himalayans was of course beyond belief. However, the narrator, complete with a rag-tag bunch of inmates and later a 17 year old girl, makes this enormous (and quite frankly impossible) undertaking almost believable through the well-written and descriptive prose.

The story is beautifully told, and with a suspension of belief I found it difficult to put down. I thought the descriptions of the countries, the landscapes and their inhabitants were fascinating and was totally spellbound with the idea that this 4000 mile undertaking could have perhaps happened in some form or another.

This book shows the darkest side of humanity, but also the dizzying heights of kindness and love for it. I would recommend this great adventure wholeheartedly; just have your saltshaker to hand, as you may need a pinch of its contents to get you through.
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on 11 June 2004
I read Seven Years in Tibet long before it became a film and found it a remarkable story, but when I read The Long Walk, I was truly astonished by this incredible journey, the endurance and resilience, walking several thousand miles from their Siberian prison camp to India, over the highest mountains in the world.
Like many of the forty-four other reviewers on Amazon at the time of writing this (forty-four reviews for a book published in 1956! including one by the author's granddaughter!), I had to question whether this journey was possible for human beings. But two things convince me. First, the detail of the story, and secondly, that these people had been conditioned to a harsh environment. Whether they really crossed the Ghobi desert without water for twelve days or not does not really matter. When you are in those circumstances, your recollection of the number of days cannot be expected to be accurate: it's what it felt like to the first hand witness.
Finally, look through the forty-four reviews (now forty-five) and see how many of the reviewers have read the book several times. As to me, I just came online to see if it still existed and I could buy it, because I lent my copy to someone years ago and have never got it back.
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on 9 September 1999
This piece of work, I feel, is the single most important documentation of mans will to survive. The copy I have was left me many years ago and has only recently (within the last two years) been investigated, but has since become one of my most valued possesions.
Slovomir Rawicz, the author and character of this amazing journey, was dragged to the depths of human existence, yet amazingly lived to tell the story.
Without wishing to ruin the story, you will feel your heart twist and turn through every emotion as he encounters what appear unmovable obstacles, sheer depths of inhumanity yet also, when at the end of his endurance, hope and redemption.
As you read this amazing account, you will not fail to be thankful for the life you have, because there will not be many a soul who experienced what Slavomir did and survived. The characters he describes are brought to life and , fleetingly become like friends, which makes the culmination all the more heartwrenching.
You will not fail to be moved by this book. Read it and let it change the way you look at your life and whenever life seems a little to hard to live, think of Slavomir and what he did to keep his.
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