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Even Silence Has An End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle Paperback – 2 Jun 2011
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* Ingrid Betancourt's astonishing, powerful and deeply moving account of her six-year ordeal in the Colombian jungle as a hostage of the terrorist organisation FARC
About the Author
Ingrid Betancourt lived in France and New Zealand before returning to Colombia to campaign for the presidency, when she was kidnapped.
Top customer reviews
In fact, though the objective observer might view Betancourt as a victim, the overwhelming message of the book is one of triumph, of a victory for humanity over inhumanity. When guards began calling the prisoners by numbers rather than names, Betancourt protested. For her it was a question of basic human boundaries, an issue of compassion and empathy. If the prisoners were no longer considered as individuals, those boundaries would be broken. As Betancourt puts it herself: "I had just lost my freedom, but I was not willing to surrender my identity."
Unlike many contemporary memoirs it is exceptionally well written. There are moments of profound beauty in the prose, perhaps made all the more poignant by the brutality against which they are juxtaposed. "In the total darkness of its privation, the ground would be lit with thousands of fluorescent stars, as if the sky had been scattered on the ground", she writes at one point.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is a marvellous achievement and a wonderful read, as good as anything else I've read this year.
`There are things that are more important than life.'
`Even Silence Has an End' is Ms Betancourt's account of her captivity and survival. Ms Betancourt's experiences, and those of the other hostages, are almost unimaginable. Ms Betancourt spent almost 6 and a half years imprisoned deep in the Colombian jungle, frequently moving from one location to another and living in filthy conditions. Ms Betancourt escaped several times, but was recaptured each time and punished. She faced malnutrition and illness, was abused by her captors and, at times, was literally kept in chains.
`When you're chained by the neck to a tree and deprived of everything ... Well, it took me several years to realize, but you still have the most important freedom of all: that is, the freedom to choose what kind of person you want to be.'
I read this book after hearing an interview with Ingrid Betancourt in Australia recently. My knowledge of the history and politics of Colombia is comparatively limited, and I hoped to learn more as a consequence of reading Ms Betancourt's book. On the political and historical fronts, the book raises more questions than it provides answers. As a personal account of an horrific set of experiences, it is a tribute to Ms Betancourt's spirit and strength of character. Ms Betancourt's is one story: there are others as well, and I will be looking to read at least some of them.