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The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom Paperback – December 1, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Cavalry officer Slavomir Rawicz was captured by the Red Army in 1939 during the German-Soviet partition of Poland and was sent to the Siberian Gulag along with other captive Poles, Finns, Ukranians, Czechs, Greeks, and even a few English, French, and American unfortunates who had been caught up in the fighting. A year later, he and six comrades from various countries escaped from a labor camp in Yakutsk and made their way, on foot, thousands of miles south to British India, where Rawicz reenlisted in the Polish army and fought against the Germans. The Long Walk recounts that adventure, which is surely one of the most curious treks in history. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"One of the most amazing, heroic stories of this or any other time."--Chicago Tribune

"You'll never complain about blisters again/"--BackPacker


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The Lyons Press; 1st edition (December 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558216847
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558216846
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (746 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,006,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

411 of 443 people found the following review helpful By Christopher B. Jonnes on December 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
Although The Long Walk is well written, that has nothing to do with why it's a good book. People should read this book because it chronicles perhaps the most extraordinary true story of human endurance in recorded history.
Slavomir Rawicz is unjustly imprisoned by the Communist Russians early in World War II. He is confined to a cell so small that he literally cannot sit, but must sleep by collapsing with his knees against the wall and his feet steeped in his own waste. He is later transported to Siberia by train, and then marched through the cold countryside to a Soviet Gulag, witnessing the death by exposure and exhaustion of other unfortunate captives along the way. In the prison camp he is set in forced labor, kept in horrendous conditions, over-worked, and underfed.
Near the end of his rope, Rawicz and a handful of companions orchestrate a daring and desperate escape, and then proceed to run for their lives, on foot, toward freedom in India--4,000 miles away. Then the fun begins. They must conquer the frozen Siberian tundra, the Gobi desert, the Himalayan Mountains, starvation, the Soviets, and their own inner demons.
Slavomir's ordeal overshadows every other survival tale I've every read, including Admiral Scott's Polar expedition and Krakauer's Everest disaster. This is up there with the Donner Expedition in terms of grim conditions and the indomitable human spirit. Trust me. If you've got a teenager who's complaining because they think they have it rough, let 'em read this one. --Christopher Bonn Jonnes, author of Wake Up Dead.
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175 of 194 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Smith VINE VOICE on May 12, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The story in a nutshell: A Polish Army officer is captured by the Soviets after they have joined Hitler in dismembering his country. Rawicz (the officer) is tortured in the Soviet prison system and sent to the Gulags. Faced with misery in Siberia and probable death, he and a band of others escape and undertake a two thousand-mile long journey from the snows of Siberia through Mongolia, the Gobi Desert, and across the Himalayas toward British India and freedom.
This is a great story. The author describes the mindless torture under the Soviet system in a manner that should persuade any reader of the evil of totalitarianism. The description of his train journey, hundred-mile winter hike through a Siberian winter to his gulag and life in the camp is fascinating. His will to survive amidst degradation, the elements and overwhelming odds are a testament to the human thirst for freedom and liberty.
As other reviewers have stated, there are some parts of the book that invite skepticism. His befriending by the camp commandant's wife seems as improbable as it is crucial to his ability to escape. The escapees journey across the Gobi Desert where his group went for many days without water beyond what I understood a person could tolerate. Without any climbing tools, his party went across the Himalayas to India -- a feat that seems fantastic. Also his brief description of spotting what could only be described as the elusive Yetti in the Himalayas stretches credibility (unless it does actually exist).
That being said, this story is exhilarating and I found it believable and enthralling. It is a wonderful adventure story and describes the limits of what the human spirit and mind can endure to survive in freedom.
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425 of 484 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Scrubbins on March 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
I am an avid reader of non-fiction adventure stories. Based on the positive reviews of The Long Walk, I was anxious to get my hands on a copy and dig in. Now that I have read it, I must say that it was a real disappointment. This book is not for any objective reader expecting an authentic non-fiction adventure story. If you're just interested in distracting yourself with a bizarre adventure fantasy, and are willing to forget reason and ignore the outright lies, then you might like it. But it is definitely not a true account of the author's experiences as trumpeted in the subtitle and text.

Rawicz (through his tabloid journalist ghost writer, Ronald Downing) makes countless outlandish claims that are not supported by any witnesses, documentation, or even detailed descriptions on his part. Moreover, his assertions often defy the laws of science and common sense. Here are but a few examples:

- reaching his destination after wandering a year through 4,000 miles of wilderness with no maps, supplies?
- trekking 12 days across a torrid stretch of the Gobi desert in mid summer with no water or food?
- crossing the Himalayas, summiting mtn after mtn in only worn moccasins and a few ragged articles of clothing?
- encountering a yeti and taunting it like those guys in the beef jerky commercial (no joke-it's in the book!)?
- Rawicz's inability to provide the most basic details about his ordeal such as the first name of one of his closest companions on the trek (the American, "Mr. Smith"!) or where he was finally picked up by the British Army or the hospital he claimed to recover in?

the list goes on and on...

The BBC did an investigation into Rawicz's story and also concluded it was a fraud.
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