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Alive: The True Story of the Andes Survivors Paperback – 4 Apr 2002
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|Paperback, 4 Apr 2002||
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"One of the classic survival stories of all time - a story of the will to survive against impossible odds" (Daily Mail)
"It is inconceivable to me that this story could have been better told... a masterpiece of narrative" (Graham Greene)
"Thunderous entertainment...a classic human adventure...a narrative of terrific and enduring significance" (New York Times)
"A great book... an incredible saga. Read's accomplishment in recording a struggle both physical and spiritual is superb" (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Perfect for fans of Channel 4 award-winning drama series Lost, this remarkable book tells the true story of what it's like to be the lost, desperate and starving survivors of a tragic plane crash... Adapted into a film starring Ethan Hawke and John Malkovich, this is an epic story of survival against all the odds.See all Product description
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It's somehow hard to review, as there are two elements - the events themselves and the book of the events. I find the actual events of the 1972 Andes plane crash, and how 16 of the passengers came to survive the 2+ months they spent in the mountains, utterly fascinating. I have watched and read everything I can find on it - documentaries, the film, books, articles. I have enormous respect for those involved.
Turning to this book, it is highly detailed, well written, covers many perspectives. It is not (in my opinion) perfect. It is at times a little long and can be dry - although as I am so fascinated by the events I enjoyed the level of detail. Also from other things I've read, the survivors themselves felt it painted a slightly critical picture of two of them. But on the other side, it was a great telling of the story - following both the survivors and also their families at home & how they were involved in the search for the wreckage. A great combination of recounting both the facts and conveying the emotions and spirit of those involved.
What is a little suprising is that even in the face of the most inhuman circumstances some still found humour. A true story of amazing solidarity and faith in themselves and humanity.
I read it in three days and couldn't put it down.
If you have Google Earth, take a look at the terrain using the tilt feature...it is truly an amazing achievment.
Theirs is a journey born of tragedy and human endurance. The author unfolds a tale that is gripping in the telling, as enthralling as it is almost unbelievable. It is investigative reporting at its best, because it does not fail to convey the human drama and pathos behind the story of this remarkable struggle for survival high up in the Andes Mountains. Masterfully written, it is a well balanced narrative that takes great pains to ground the experience of the survivors in the context out of which it arose.
The plane had crashed in the Andes Mountains on Argentinian territory. It was an exercise in terror for those on the plane, as it barreled down the mountain, before finally coming to rest in a valley of snow high up in the Andes. Of the forty five persons on board, thirty two had initially survived the crash. Some, however, had sustained serious injuries. Time would not be their friend. Moreover, with little warm clothing (keep in mind that October is springtime in South America), the survivors were exposed to the extreme cold of the night air, high up in the Andes. Though spring, this still meant temperatures well below freezing. Damp, cold, and hungry, amid the anguished cries of the injured, thus began the first of many such nights.
By their tenth day in the Andes, the limited food supplies, which they had rationed with all the care of a miser, had virtually run out. Starving and ravenously hungry, they voiced what they all knew to be true, but had not dared to voice before. They must eat, or they would die. The only thing left for them to eat, however, was abhorrent and deeply repugnant to them. Digging deep into their conservative, religious souls, they found a way to justify actions that would have them transcend a new reality. Their fallen comrades would now provide the means of their sustenance. All eventually succumbed to this only means of survival.
This, while one of the most dramatic parts of their story, is just that, a part. Their survival entailed much more. They had to endure other deprivations. They had to survive the elements. They had to overcome a profound despair over being seemingly forgotten by the outside world. Ultimately, only sixteen were able to do so. How they did so will fascinate all readers of adventure literature. The means that they took to let the world know that they were still alive will astound even the most jaded of readers. It is an account of human endurance that is thought provoking and compelling, a quest to reconcile physical needs with the spiritual. It is, above all, a riveting testament to life.
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OK so this is pretty horrible with the graphic description of how they survived.Read more