The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom

The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom

by Slavomir Rawicz


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The harrowing true tale of seven escaped Soviet prisoners who desperately marched out of Siberia through China, the Gobi Desert, Tibet, and over the Himalayas to British India.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493022618
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 04/01/2016
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 59,746
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Slavomir Rawicz lived in England after the war, settling near Nottingham and working as a handicrafts and woodworking instructor, a cabinetmaker, and later as a technician in architectural ceramics at a school of art and design. He married an Englishwoman, with whom he had five children. He retired in 1975 after a heart attack, and lived a quiet life in the countryside until his death in 2004.

Table of Contents

Foreword Ronald Downing vii

Introduction to the Polish Edition ix

I Kharkov and the Lubyanka 1

II Trial and Sentence 12

III From Prison to Cattle Truck 23

IV Three Thousand Miles by Train 37

V Chain Gang 47

VI End of the Journey 58

VII Life in Camp 303 67

VIII The Wife of the Commissar 81

IX Plans for Escape 93

X Seven Cross the Lena River 105

XI Baikal and a Fugitive Girl 116

XII Kristina Joins the Party 128

XIII Across the Trans-Siberian Railway 139

XIV Eight Enter Mongolia 152

XV Life Among the Friendly Mongols 165

XVI The Gobi Desert: Hunger, Drought and Death 177

XVII Snake Meat and Mud 191

XVIII The Last of the Gobi 203

XIX Six Enter Tibet 215

XX Five By-Pass Lhasa 228

XXI Himalayan Foothills 241

XXII Strange Creatures 253

XXIII Four Reach India 264

Afterword to the 1997 Edition 274

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The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 165 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story is so incredible that some readers doubts the authenticity of it, myself included. I ran a check on the internet and found out that he is a real person and has just passed away. He lived to the ripe old age of 88! Incidentally I bought the book in April this year at a book fair at a steep discount of 70% off (most people did not know it is a gem and I regretted not buying a few more copies to give out as gift) and started to read the book at around the time that he passed away on 5th May. Life is full of co-incidences. Read about the obituary of Mr. Slavomir Rawicz at the UK Guardian On-line Newspaper l. The only 'incompleteness' of the story is that he never meet up again with the other three survivors.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Have you ever read something or watched something that defied all knowledge and all attempts at retelling? If not, then you've obviously not read The Long Walk. I feel completely confident in asserting that one can never forget this riveting tale of tragedy and triumph. Congress should pass a law requiring everyone to read this book, along with The Catcher in the Rye.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't know if this was a true story or not but it is one of my favorite books ever. Its kept me up all hours of the night trying to figure out what was next for the characters. I refuse to watch the movie because I don't want to ruin the book (and I hate Collin Ferrel). Awesome book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The harrowing experiences of these men were hard to read, yet even more difficult to put down. It's a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I cried with them, and cheered for them as I read their story. I have not seen the movie based on this book, but I can't imagine that it could capture the true hardships Slavomir Rawicz and his group endured. An excellent and wonderfully inspirational story of courage, endurance and unity!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First heard this book in juniorhigh school in the late 60s read by the english teacher and have read it my self 5 more times over the years. Have a paper copy and plan on getting a digital copy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Almost unbelievable that these men could have done this
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put this book down. Wonderfully written of the struggle of human survival during Nazi germany rein.
hcps-maddenfk More than 1 year ago
"Seven Cross the Lena River", "Eight Enter Mongolia", "Six Enter Tibet", "Five By-Pass Lhasa,"...One remarkable read. With vivid reminders by the eerie chapter titles professing the death count of the travelers, The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz tells the true account of escaped Soviet prisoners. Rawicz offers a hauntingly detached first person description of torture, imprisonment, and inhumane conditions which presented themselves to him as he journeyed from Soviet prisons, and to his eventual expedition to India. In 1939, a then 25-year-old Polish cavalry officer Rawicz was sentenced to twenty-five years of hard labor in Siberia following his torture-induced "confession" in Moscow. The story begins with our protagonist writing of torment at the hands of N.K.V.D. officers in a prison in the town of Kharkov. After a mind-menacing trial at the Soviet Supreme Court, Rawicz moves to the confined "upright-coffin-sized" cell standing amidst his (and approximately 60 other men's) bodily wastes. He moves to Camp 303 in the middle of the Siberian tundra, promptly planning an escape with 6 other men and a Polish teen, Kristina (the only woman in the group), who joins the group not far after they leave the camp. Spring blizzards, icy rivers, Mongolia's Gobi Desert, and Tibetan Himalayas become backdrops for the journey of a handful of comrades. An obvious expert of imagery, Rawicz is able to paint pictures telling stories of the strength of human spirit and the universal desire for freedom. With so many stories of the German Holocaust, recollections of their Soviet counterparts are relatively untold to common man. Reminiscent of Elie Wiesel's Night, this story offers a more blatant, universal theme for readers. This triumph over the always present choice of death is an obvious inspiration to all. The Long Walk is a refreshing celebration of the will to live, one which should be read by all.
BlockM More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was outstanding and would even put it in the same tier as Into Thin Air. Same idea of people overcoming incredible odds in the name of living. The determination and resilience of these people is outstanding. If you ever thought you had it bad.....this will change your mind. I will admit that I did question the validity of the book by the end. It almost seemed a bit too much at points. No way to verifty it or not, however. Still a worthwhile read.
RockyMtnBuzzard More than 1 year ago
Slavomir Rawicz' story of his escape from the Soviet Union to freedom is thrilling and inspiring. A Polish soldier captured by the Communists during WWII, interrogated and tortured in Moscow, shipped to a Siberian slave labor camp, escaping with 6 companions during a blizzard, trekking south thousands of miles through Russia, Mongolia, China, the Gobi, the Himalayas and finally India. In addition to being an amazing story of hardship and struggle, Rawicz' repeated message is that freedom is worth paying any price.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure about reading this book early on but after the first few pages, I was hooked. It is a true story about one man in particular but also a group of people whose lives are connected by a desire to escape imprisonment. They travel through hardships that we can't imagine and develop a bond with each other. It truly is a wonder that any of them lived to tell the tale of their journey. Amazing, wonderful, touching and inspiring.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My teacher is reading it to us now, and i keep finding myself on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear what Slavomir Rawicz is going to do next. I personally dont think i could have handled the torture and deprivation of most essentials. He's a true hero, especially because he had the heart to write us a book on his horrifying, yet ground-breaking experiences. This book portrays bravery, and courage in every way imaginable to human perception. True story's turn out to be the best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Before reading The Long Walk, I used to hate reading non-fiction books, but I loved The Long Walk! This story will give any person who reads it a little history lesson about how harsh the soviets were to their prisoners, but the book is told in such a way that the it doesn't even seem like a boring story you would read out of a history textbook. This book is full of truth, suspense, friendships, and unforgetable memories. I liked it so much, I bought it for my own personal library. This book will soon become a true classic!
bnbookgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Parts of this book have been questioned and after reading it I question it as well. I love a well written memoir, but, I don't want to be fooled by one that is embellished with misinformation. (Lets not forget James Frey). I would like more research done on this if possible. I had no problem with the time in Yakutsk, that part seemed accurate, it was after that where the problems begin. If anyone has found out further info on this book, I am willing to listen.
cacky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really disappointed that this "true" story can't be verified. It was a great adventure and could have been a great novel. Don't like to be fooled, hence the low rating
cmbohn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Slavomir Rawicz was a Polish cavalry officer in World War II. He came home on leave and found himself arrested by the Russians for the crime of, well, being Polish. He was kept in prison, but refused to confess. After a few months, he was tricked into signing a confession and shipped off to Siberia for 25 years hard labor. After a horrible trek up into the northern wilderness, he finds himself in a Siberian work camp.He decides he's not about to spend 25 years there, and makes plans to escape. He enlists six other men, a Latvian, an American, other Poles, and they sneak out in the night. Their escape plan will take them through Mongolia, across the Gobi Desert, up and down the Himalayas, and through India.It's an incredible story. I couldn't put it down once I got started. Sometimes there were gaps in the story, but it was absolutely gripping. Really worth reading.
bespen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A classic adventure story, a tale of endurance and survival, The Long Walk is the story of a Polish officer who escaped from a Siberian Gulag and walked to India.Whilst doing research for this review, I discovered that another man claimed that Rawicz had stolen his story. Witold Glinski says that the events in The Long Walk actually happened to him. Glinski claims Rawicz read an account of his voyage in the Polish embassy in London, and based the book on that recollection. In retrospect, this explains the curious character of the book. The book is incredible, but too incredible to be fake. There is just something about the book that rings true. But nonetheless, the book has a dreamy character, with strange bits that probably are the result of Rawicz making things up that he didn't really know. Reading Glinski's account makes much more sense of the things that happened, the flow is better, and nothing seems out of place.Accusations had been leveled against Rawicz from the moment the book was published, but the BBC discovered evidence that Rawicz was in fact serving with the Polish Army after being released from the gulag during the time the events in the book occurred.Despite all that, I liked this book. Given that it does seem to be based upon true events, it is still worth a read, even if it wasn't Rawicz who actually walked to India. There are a couple interesting things in the book that I noted. One thing that came to mind only because I am reading The Science of Conjecture by James Franklin, is the Soviets had a strange insistence upon obtaining confessions. Rawicz/Glinsky spent several months in the Lubyanka prison while the NKVD was attempting to obtain his confession. In retrospect, this seems strange. Why bother? There was not really any danger of a popular uprising in the WWII period, they did not need to obtain confessions.However, going back to the 10th century in Continental Law, there was a preference for confession above all other forms of proof in legal cases, due to the difficulty of interpretation of other kinds of evidence. Confession was felt to be unambiguous in ways that other kinds of testimony were not, primarily for religious reasons. This struck me as funny, in a perverse way, that the Soviets insisted on confessions for their show trials when the ultimate reason for doing so traces back to the Torah.This book is also excellent for the sense of the vast emptiness it effectively creates. Central Asia has a whole lotta nothing going on, and this book will make that impression stick in your mind.
outside-jane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing story... if it's true! But sadly I am not sure that it is - my credulity was stretched a number of times, not least at the sighting of 2 yetis in the Himalayas - a truly Baudolino-esque moment!
technodiabla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This memoir was unbelievable! I mean, if it wasn't a true story it would seem ridiculous. The hardships those survivors endured is really unimaginable to me. I found the writing to be pretty good for a memoir (not written by a professional writer), unfortunately this edition seemed poorly edited (the U.S. 1997 edition). I would definitely recommend this book though-- to most people. It says so much about what man can do, if he has to, and about the importance of freedom and camaraderie. 3.75 stars
nkmunn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
more than a survival story.
BudaBaby on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Memoir of a Polish soldier captured by the Russians, tortured, forced to sign a false confession while drugged, and sent to a labor camp in Siberia. From there he escaped with others and set off on foot to India. Tale of survival and human limits.
JeremyMeeks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Quite possibly the most inspiring book I've ever read. This thing is awesome from start to finish.
markusnenadovus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the heartfelt memoir of a Polish man who escaped from a Russian work camp. What a wonderful thing it is that an account like this is now preserved in published form! This is a very emotional work and also a very well-written one. The writing style is rather vivid and even to a degree poetic. Either the author is a very talented writer or he got some good assistance! I'm afraid this review can't do justice to the book. Get it and read it yourself!
CarolynSchroeder on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great story of the human spirit, in many different ways ~ one that lingers. Ronald Downing did an amazing job of putting Slavomir Rawicz's words into both simple English prose and poetry. There is nothing fancy about the writing, but it is spare, beautiful and captures the lands of Siberia, Mongolia, Tibet and not often written about areas during WWII. "Slav" is an understated amazing person. He escapes, along with 6 other prisoners, from a Russian "work camp" where he is unjustly held for 25 years on suspicion of being a spy (he never was). I was humbled by the group's devotion to each other. I was waiting for the inevitable implosion of the group, splintering off, etc., but it never happened. These folks hung together until the end, or their untimely demise(s) ... each person contributing his/her strength to the journey and for the common good. The instant kindness and sacrifice they showed to Kristina (a young Polish fugitive they pick up along the way) was amazing. This book is a quick read and I highly recommend it, especially if you like stories about seemingly "common/normal" people doing heroic things (a favorite subject of mine). Know that it is quite sad though, as one would expect.
mlake on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was worried that it would be too much history, or that Slavomir would be self pitying, but neither was true. This read like an action/adventure story.