60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Started it yesterday afternoon and finished today.
This is a tremendous story told with remarkable integrity and humility. I can't imagine switching places with any of these three amazing Americans for an hour much less 5+ years. I was engrossed by their heart-wrenching drama from the moment I picked up the book yesterday afternoon and only put it down with reluctance because I was too tired to read any further until...
Published on March 1, 2009 by CBanks
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading
Out of Captivity details the experiences and emotions of Marc, Keith, and Tom as hostages of the FARC EP.
Written as a narrative, the writing style lacks personalizing the character of the hostages, but each chapter is subheaded by the names of these victims. This is a slight disappointment, especially since throughout their ordeal of being so isolated for...
Published on October 4, 2010 by P. K. Walker
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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Started it yesterday afternoon and finished today.,
This review is from: Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle (Hardcover)This is a tremendous story told with remarkable integrity and humility. I can't imagine switching places with any of these three amazing Americans for an hour much less 5+ years. I was engrossed by their heart-wrenching drama from the moment I picked up the book yesterday afternoon and only put it down with reluctance because I was too tired to read any further until today.
I did feel that Gary Brozek had a heavy hand in how their story was presented because each person's account seemed to be written in a similar voice. I think I would have rather read the voices of the hostages without the editorial intervention of a freelance writer; however, it was still a very worthy, well done endeavor and I'm glad I spent some time with these incredible people by reading their astonishing story.
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A profound revelation...,
This review is from: Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle (Hardcover)"Out of Captivity" reveals the immense capacity of the human spirit to overcome obstacles that in normal circumstances may seem overwhelming and devastating. It also shows the highs and lows of the human nature. I am very grateful for these three brave Americans in telling the truth as they experienced it in the Colombian jungle. Not only the horrors themselves, but also how each individual can behave in so many different and unexpected ways under unthinkable conditions. In their account, they reveal an important aspect of Colombian culture: social classes seem to behave in the same way even when they seem to be on the other side of the spectrum. As a native of Colombia I understand that aspect very well. Those in the upper class seem to feel that they can always manipulate anyone or anything to get their way.
I recommend this book to anyone with an open mind and heart to understand the devastating plague of terrorism and violence that Colombians have lived under for decades, due mostly to social and economic inequality. Ignorance, poverty, fear and greed are an all too effective combination that enables these types of organizations to continue kidnapping, torturing and killing innocent soldiers and civilians in Colombia. That these things can be observed, experienced, and told about by these 3 Americans from their point of view (with a different culture and background), as painful as it was, will add credence to a profound revelation that needs to be told.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Page-turning, personal tales of hope, despair and survival,
This review is from: Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle (Paperback)I read this after reading Betancourt's Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle. I've also since read Rojas's, not as well written, but still interesting memoir.
Despite knowing the ending well, for me, this was a page-turning, "I-can't-put-it-down" read of overcoming horrific circumstances and the power of a unified front.
I particularly found fascinating:
Even though these three shared almost the same general experience, they have very different perspectives on the same situations, people and events they faced. It's a compelling demonstration of how every person's story is uniquely theirs.
Their strength in supporting each other, finding productive ways to use their time and working to improve their lot and chances in the midst of a horrific hell-hole - where liking and agreeing with each other 24/7 is impossible is impressive.
Still, while I found their perspective as outsiders (Americans, only one which speaks fluent Spanish, in captivity for a shorter time and treated very well versus others) gave them a unique vantage point, I didn't necessarily find that they all always had a real grasp of some of the cultural dynamics at play or necessarily a true understanding or compassion for other prisoners unique experiences or motivations.
This was especially true when it came to Stansell's automatic and continued dislike of Betancourt. Having read her book, there is no doubt that she has an abundance of arrogance and self-entitlement that somewhat goes with the social class structure system of the country, and to a great extent is also her personality. But, this book and their perspective on the camp actually gave me a greater appreciation for just how difficult her situation was.
There's honesly no way in any circumstances either Stansell or her were going to like each other. ("Arrogant, alpha-male, status-conscious, conservative ex-marine who isn't used to dealing with powerful woman - please meet your new prison mate arrogant,status-conscious, socialist, politician and prison queen bee.") It's oil and water. The guards and the other prisoners obviously do their best to fan the flames of the dislike between the two to their advantage. It pretty much works, and they both come off as taking cheap potshots at the other. Truth is they are both strong personalities and survivors of a horrific experience.
Bottom Line: No matter how you slice it, these are three personal tales of stolen years, a horrific experience, loyalty and survival - as well as an eye-opening look into the evil of FARC and it's methods.
47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping story, and much more...,
This review is from: Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle (Hardcover)I have followed this story for several years, praying for Marc/Keith/Tom's safe return and honoring the memories of their two colleagues, Tom Janis and Luis Alcides Cruz, who were murdered by FARC terrorists in the incident that led to the former three's captivity. Now that they're home, I'm especially glad to hear their story in their own words.
Other reviewers have already covered the book in great detail, but it's worth recapping some central themes. First and foremost, this is a story about how some very diverse human beings--the authors and the other twelve hostages rescued last July 2nd in a daring deception operation--reacted to and ultimately overcame the most difficult circumstances imaginable. Their stories are remarkable: they pull no punches in describing their highs and lows, their successes and failures.
Some have made much of the authors' observations on fellow hostage and noted Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt; however, these comments are a relatively small part of the overall story. I interpreted them not as a smear on Ms. Betancourt but as a realistic depiction of the inevitable to-and-fro, and occasional conflict, that arises when you put together a group of strong personalities under any circumstances. These conflicts serve only to underscore their humanity. That they all triumphed over 5 years or more of captivity with relative grace and dignity is the real point.
I'm eagerly awaiting comparable treatment of related stories that deserve to be told. First is that of Operation Jaque ("Check"), the rescue mission that lead to their freedom and a testament to the professionalism and dedication of the Colombian armed forces and police, as well as those of all nationalities who supported their efforts. Second, I'd like to read more about Colombia's grass-roots initiatives rejecting the FARC and rebuilding that country's institutions. Finally--someday--I look forward to reading about the end of the FARC... the ELN... and the other narcoterrorist organizations that have long hurt not just Colombia, but all the partner nations of the Americas.
35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring story of survival,
This review is from: Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle (Hardcover)Here's an inspirational true story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. And make you count your blessings.
The book grabs you from the very beginning, with a harrowing, you-are-there plane crash in the Colombian mountains. The story is told by the three men who survived.
After the plane's engines fail, the pilots frantically search for a clearing. It's a miracle that one appears: "If we were falling down a deep well, that clearing was like finding a tiny ledge just a few inches above bottom." When the men emerge from the crash, they are being fired upon by FARC guerrillas.
Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Tom Howes spent over five years as captives of FARC, a Colombian terrorist and guerrilla organization. The group forces the men on a 40-day starvation march through the jungle, chains them, keeps them isolated and threatens to execute them. Surviving the jungle itself is not easy. I think I might always remember the description of the tiny ticks that "got in places on us that had never seen daylight. They worked their way into our skin, and if we had let them stay there long enough, they would have sucked the life out of us."
A glossy 16-page section includes 39 color photographs, including family photos before and after the ordeal, an abandoned FARC camp showing how the beds and pathways were constructed, the cigarettes used as camp currency, a chess set one of the men built out a cardboard box and whittled wood, and pages from a journal.
Here's the chapter list:
Prologue: A Place to Crash
1. Choices and Challenges
2. Changes in Altitude
3. ¿Quién Sabe?
4. The Transition
5. Settling In
6. Proof of Life
8. Broken Bones and Broken Bonds
9. Ruin and Recovery
10. Getting Healthy
12. Running on Empty
14. The Swamp
15. Politics and Pawns
16. Fat Camp
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth from captivity,
This review is from: Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle (Hardcover)This book is a walk through the mental minefields of being a hostage, held by people with little regard for human life, who are as much prisoners as those they keep in the jungles with them. The three men have very different personalities, and have very different viewpoints on many subjects, yet manage to stay dedicated to one another despite their individual differences and treatment by the FARC. As Mark, Keith, and Tom try to understand their captors, the jarring mismatch of human and inhuman qualities of the FARC guards and commanders is deeply unsettling, and a window into the desperate hopelessness of the rank and file FARC member, trapped in a life that most do not want, threatened with death if they leave, and too poorly educated and/or brainwashed to think for themselves if they did escape.
Like Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia, this book shatters the viewpoint that the FARC leaders have any true political agenda. They are exposed as self-deluded manipulators, more in love with portraying themselves as revolutionary fighters for the people than with actually doing something constructive to help the people they claim to fight for, all the while taking all the best things their lifestyle has to offer them - liquor, women, and a willing army of brainwashed servants willing to kill for their continued pleasure. Half Animal Farm, half Lord of the Flies, from the children they recruit up to the members who have been in the FARC for decades, they remain mentally little more than children playing a murderous game of dress-up. The account of the forced abortion on one of their own members made me sick. It is a stark contrast when compared to the strong minds and stronger bond of freedom shared by the three Americans caught in the middle.
These three are heroes for surviving unbroken and unbowed; but there are other heroes in this book as well: Tom Janis - for somehow landing the plane in a way that they all walked away, the murdered Luis Alcides Cruz for his service to his country, and the daring soldiers of the Colombian military for having the sheer audacity to even attempt, let alone succeed with a hostage rescue that will be studied in military academies for decades, if not longer.
Truly an awesome read, and one not to miss. This is one of the best examples of how freedom, dignity, and willpower factor into what we call "the American spirit."
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hostage Crisis,
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This review is from: Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle (Kindle Edition)The three Americans who tell their story in Out of Captivity lived for over five years as hostages under the control of FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. They moved from camp to camp, marched for days at a time through jungles and up mountains and along rivers, and were sometimes chained and sometimes tethered together. Suffering bouts of illness and near starvation, they slept and ate and took care of personal business in the most horrible and demeaning of situations -- and they survived. That they did survive they attribute to each other: being one man in a group of three kept them sane, alive, and supported. When one broke down, the others took up the slack; when one was sick, the others advocated for medical help; when disagreements broke out and annoyances flared, they weathered the blows and stayed tough together. "You don't pick your family members," Marc Gonsalves points out at the end of the book and "the same goes for your fellow hostages." These three were lucky to have each other.
I really was enthralled by the story of these three guys. Bored out of their minds part of the time, terrified most of the time, and dreaming of home all of the time, this book is surprisingly well-written and moving. These men are not adventure-seeking cowboys, not gung-ho military guys or hard-line anything: they are thinking and feeling Americans, the best of our country, embodiments of our ideals of open-mindedness, fair dealing, hard work, faith, and doggone grit. "Do the hard right thing" was a mantra that got them through, together and intact, and without compromise. These men are not armed with a message, they're not weighed down by a vendetta or hawking a cause. The only thing they ask of their readers is that the reader empathize with all those thousands (thousands!!! It boggles the mind and numbs the brain and chills the soul) still held in captivity in Colombia and elsewhere, victims of political maneuvering and competing doctrines and stupidity and violence.
Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Tom Howes (and all helped by writer Gary Brozek) tell their stories clearly and the story they have to tell is well worth reading. This book moved me, disgusted me, but also involved me thoroughly. I am now a part of their history, a reader and a witness to what they have been through. I hope that more hostages can be brought home, yellow ribbons and relieved family and caring arms all around.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story from amazing men.,
This review is from: Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle (Hardcover)This is an amazing book for all to read about an area of the world and a terrorist group that doesn't see all that much press these days. These brave men paint a very real picture of their five and a half years with a group that has menaced the country of Colombia for all too many years. Read it...do it now.
50 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing book!,
This review is from: Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle (Hardcover)I've been lucky enough to work with many of the people that tried so hard to get these 3 Americans out of the hands of the leftist narco-terrorist group, the FARC over the last 5 years. Thousands of dedicated Colombian's and Americans worked day and night for years trying to get ALL of these POWs back. I can't begin to express how happy I am to see them all returned safely and in one piece. An early copy of this book was just given to us this morning and I literally spent the last 5 hours reading as much of it as I could.
I am not surprised at all about the comments they wrote about the leftist politician, FARC sympathiser and 2002 Colombian Presidential canidate, Ingrid Betancourt. Her actions while confined were horrible, vile and should be considered inexcusable. If anyone has read the book "King Rat" by James Clavell, it would give you a good idea about what kind of terrible things she would do to the other prisoners. She would steal food, manipulate her fellow prisoners for better treatment and privlages, and even endangered the American's lives by telling the FARC they were CIA agents!!
The abysmal actions of Ingrid Betancourt are exactly the reason why US President Eisenhower, (later amended by President Reagan) created the "Military Code of Conduct", which are rules by which all POWs should live by.
For anyone that is interested in:
1. Reading about the amazing struggle of 3 brave Americans held captive by leftist narco-terrorists and how things like the Code of Conduct helped keep them alive over 5 years in captivity
2. Just how low people like Ingrid Betancourt can sink to in POW type situations and betray thier fellow POWs
3. Knowing the true personality of the possible future Presidential canidate for Colombia, Ingrid Betancourt
THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read if you care about freedom, survival, the USA or Colombia,
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This review is from: Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle (Hardcover)I have been married to a Colombian woman since 2002. I recall being in Bogota when the DMZ was taken away from the rebels, and negotiations pulled. Even in Bogota you could tell a difference on the streets.
I recall the day I called my wife and told her that Ingrid was free. That's what CNN focused on initially, not all the others (Colombian and USA).
When this book came out, I had to have it and read the details. I would love to say it's a great story, but I don't think that is fair to the time lost from the families and the three authors. I will say that the book took me less than a week to read, ironically while in Bogota. Every night I went to bed thinking, how far over the mountains of Bogota does this different world start. The descriptions and narratives of the authors made it possible to imagine things like the 40 day march, the food, the injuries, the lies of FARC, the contradictions of Ingrid, and more.
I strongly suggest this book for anyone that wants to read about the inner works of a rebel terrorist group, and multiple countries working together for a solution, as well as the challenges of three people learning what they are capable of and adjusting to survive.
I will say that in starting to read this book, I also considered purchasing the Ingrid book, but after reading in this book how she behaved, I don't think I want to waste the time of reading her political hot air....
I think if you get this book, you will not be dissiapointed....It takes a lot to make me stop reading.....If I hadn't had to work, eat and sleep I would have read this in one sitting....
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Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle by Gary Brozek (Hardcover - February 24, 2009)
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