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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sticking to the point would be advisable to some..
This legendary book (and later movie of the same caliber) has provoked and is still provoking so much off the point debate that it's hard to fathom.

A discussion about Turkey and its pros and cons belongs either in a different forum or upon a different book as a vehicle for argumentation. Even Hayes himself despite his martyrdom had said publicly after his...
Published on November 24, 2004 by Takis Tz.

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Mosquitoes and lousy food.
Midnight Express loses some shock value with redundancy and carbon copy bully guards. Too many books go over 300 pages; it makes me think they're afraid to publish 150 page books.

The movie, to make the story more exciting, takes liberties with the true story that is more about mosquitoes and lousy food.
Published 1 month ago by J. Rodeck


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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sticking to the point would be advisable to some.., November 24, 2004
By 
This review is from: Midnight Express (Paperback)
This legendary book (and later movie of the same caliber) has provoked and is still provoking so much off the point debate that it's hard to fathom.

A discussion about Turkey and its pros and cons belongs either in a different forum or upon a different book as a vehicle for argumentation. Even Hayes himself despite his martyrdom had said publicly after his escape to the States that his intention had never been a defamation of Turkey or the Turks. So lets leave it at that.

To the book itself, this is indeed a momumental reading describing the utter and surreal ordeal that Hayes, a convicted hash smuggler endured while incarcerated in the Turkish prison system. He describes a system which was designed (or left to its own devices?) to devalue human existence and destroy human dignity. In conditions mildly called appalling, Hayes went through 5 years of sheer soul and bodily torture until his incredible and unlikely escape which spared him life imprisonment.

He himself spares the reader none of all the disturbing details and descriptions as he unravels his nightmarish narrative. The Midnight Express is a book that punches hard at the incarceration system (as prisons in many other parts of the world are similar or worse) and the sheer disregard for human dignity. Credit to Hayes for not trying to redeem himself by claiming wrongful conviction. He accepts that he commited a crime according to that country's law and that he knew he was as he was commiting it. He doesnt accept (to put it again, VERY mildly) the severety of the penalty and the way it was carried out.

It's a book that will no doubt unnerve the reader who's unfamiliar with such literature or who's never given much thought to such issues. It's a scary experience even as an innocent turning of pages and will keep you hostage with its gloomy, borderline deathly and insane atmosphere. It will also provide some serious food for thought about the limits of human perseverence as a whole.

Written in a very direct and engaging style, Hayes proved a talent in writting and if you've read other such books you know that not everyone could achieve the level of directness and the effect of making you feel other the way he did.

Worthy of its fame by any standard. For anyone interested in a similar and perhaps even more disturbing book try the "Damage done" by Warren Fellows.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than the movie, August 8, 2009
By 
J. D. Stewart (Anchorage, Alaska) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Midnight Express (Paperback)
I think the movie should have been made like the book in the first place, but Oliver Stone wanted something much more sensationalistic and xenophobic. Not positive, but I'm quite sure one of the main reasons Billy wrote the book was so he could pay back his father for trying to get him out of Turkey. His family was not wealthy and borrowed on their house to give him money while he was in prison and for lawyer fees.

Even though this book has been out of print for awhile, I so wish they would have a remake that is at least 90% faithful to the book, especially the end
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blatant smuggler versus Turkish brutality, June 27, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Midnight Express (Hardcover)
Many of the reviews that I have read about Midnight Express seem to focus on whether Billy Hayes was a smuggler or not, and, having established that he was then go on to tarnish everything he says and dismiss all that has happened to him. whether or not he was a possessor or a smuggler is irrevelant - it is almost certain that he was a smuggler, as he states in the book and film that he did it for money. The point that people seem to want to gloss over is that he spent far too long in a Turkish Hell-hole, with a regime that no-one deserves. I wouldn't subject my worst enemy to such a depraved and abused existence. The book by Mr Hayes and William Hoffer graphically depicts the Turkish mis-justice system for what it is. to serve an entire sentence only to have it re-heard and re-sentenced is cruel and barbaric. The Turkish prison system is accurately depicted in the book and film, as can be proved by reading any of the other books about prison regimes in many similar countries - not just Turkey. The book is quite excellent and one of the best reads that I can remember: it is just a pity that it is out of print, people will now be denied the chance to read and judge it for themselves. Anyone with current information on either of the authors please let me know; also if there is a copy for sale in a shop near Liverpool, England.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WAITING FOR GODOT IN A TURKISH PRISON, November 3, 2004
This review is from: Midnight Express (Paperback)
This is the vivid, detailed, and eye-opening autobiography of student dropout Billy Hayes, who relates his years from 1970-75 in the prisons of Turkey, where he was imprisoned for smuggling hashish. Captured at Istanbul airport by a random search, he has to learn to handle himself inside quickly if he is to survive. His case takes years to go through the courts, slowed down by the grinding wheels of the Turkish injustice system, crooked lawyers, and the bureaucracy found the world over in these cases. American status does not protect him, he is sentenced to life imprisonment, commuted to thirty years. There are graphic descriptions of everything that goes on: there are Turks, Europeans, one or two other Americans, and children all imprisoned together.

He has various plans for escape, the title of the book being his code word for his escape plan. His first plan revolves around getting a psychiatric discharge or escape from an easy prison. A couple of the other prisoners do escape, one by sheer cunning and the other by clever bribery. One or two fail spectacularly. One man is beaten so badly by the warders that he murders one of them when he is released and gets put straight back into the same prison, where now his status is much higher, as murder is considered a 'manly' crime there. Billy keeps himself going by correspondence with home and a past girlfriend, and adapting to but not succumbing to the prison regime. He has to learn to stay alive as a person and keep his humanity by forming friendships and alliances where he can.

One of the great ironies of being inside in Turkey for smuggling hash is that there is free availability of hashish and other drugs, which are used by all--police, prison guards, and prisoners alike. Eventually he is transferred to a low security island prison where he can steal a boat, row to the mainland, and escape to Greece. He returned home, much the wiser for his experiences, and co-wrote this book and also signed the Hollywood deal which led to the famous film of the same name. An exciting story, and an eye-opening account of the seamy side of Turkey.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars crackin' good read, August 31, 2011
By 
Caraculiambro (La Mancha and environs) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Midnight Express (Paperback)
Extrenely well crafted story. There have been questions raised about exactly how factual the events are, but really, I don't care about that stuff. This is one of those books that if you start in the morning you could finish by the evening because the pages seem to turn themselves. William Hayes had help writing it, though. But it's extremely well-done: he doesn't get into his backstory too much, doesn't drift off into politics or human rights, doesn't talk about culture or philosophy. Just sticks to the adventure. There are no slow parts.

Two things:

1. I'm glad he put the sodomy scene in there. If he hadn't, I simply wouldn't have trusted this.
2. Shame that William Hayes eventually went back to Turkey and apologized for besmirching their reputation. No way, man. Forget them. As someone once wrote, you can judge how civilized a people are by how they treat their prisoners.
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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book. Not an attack on Turkey, December 20, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Midnight Express (Paperback)
Please note that at the time of Billy Hayes's story, Turkey was basically a dictatorship; just as Spain, Greece, Portugal, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, etc. were. 30 years ago Turkey along with the other countries just named all had dictators and were not 100% free societies. Therefore his portrait of Turkey and their justice system is true. One must remember however that a lot has changed since 30 years ago. This should make people be aware Turkey is not like this today. It was, however, like this in 1970. Therefore, judging the book by one's ideas of Turkey today is a faux pas. No one would judge Germany of today when reading William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. So beware that many reviews of this book are biased and based on their views of the Turkey of today and not of 1970. Also, be advised that any person who lived through Billy Hayes's horror would no doubt have formed strong opinions on an entire people and society especially when still fresh. Such angers only leave after generations of people. Lastly, though the movie is excellent and follows closely to the book in some cases, the movie screenplay was written by Oliver Stone who rewrites his work for his own agenda and also uses his work as propaganda for some unknown cause which only he knows in that mind of his. He has done so in this case, changing many things that the book says and creating completely fictional accounts that never happened to Billy Hayes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Midnight Express, October 19, 2012
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This review is from: Midnight Express (Kindle Edition)
A very realistic book centered around other country's laws of illegal drug transportation. The story centers around an individual who gets caught with illegal drugs and is subsequently incarcerated. The conditions he must endure are horrific and his subsequent escape leaves one anxious for his safe return to his family despite his obvious guilt.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The true story is dramatic enough, March 27, 2012
This review is from: Midnight Express (Paperback)
I finally got around to reading this book, having seen the movie for the first time years ago, and after repeated viewings. After reading it, my impression is that the true story is dramatic enough that I'm not sure why the film-makers had to take such liberties with it. Billy Hayes must have been quite impressed to learn from the film that he bit out a guy's tongue and killed a guard. I doubt he ever would have gotten to write this book if he had done those things, considering the treatment that he did get for much more minor offenses while imprisoned.

The film is good, but the book is worth reading so you can learn what really happened and how Billy Hayes escaped his ordeal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT, July 8, 2007
By 
Annette Sonnenberg (BOWLING GREEN, OHIO) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Midnight Express (Paperback)
I COULDN'T READ THIS BOOK FAST ENOUGH. IT HAD ME ENTRALLED FROM PAGE ONE AND I HAD ALREADY SEEN THE MOVIE. OUR PRISONS ARE CAKE COMPARED TO OTHER PLACES IN THE WORLD. EXCELLENT BOOK!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Movie and book are fabulous!, February 6, 2014
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This review is from: Midnight Express (Paperback)
Is one better than the other? Some say, the book is better.. than a movie often. I found them equally as good. Is a fast read. I read in 2 days. The insanity of prison life, and what they did to him, lied to him, beat him, is appalling. But is there any good prison, and 'there ain't no good chain gang.' Those who redeem their lives thereafter are rare but Billy continues to help inmates today in the U.S.
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Midnight Express
Midnight Express by William Hoffer (Paperback - March 9, 2013)
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