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OUT of CAPTIVITY: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle Hardcover – February 24, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 188 customer reviews

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Marc Gonsalves is a former member of the United States Air Force who worked as a civilian military contractor for four years before the crash. He has a daughter, Destiney, and two stepsons, Cody and Joey. He lives in Connecticut.

Tom Howes has been a pilot working in the United States and South America for thirty-seven years. He currently lives with his son, Tommy, in Merritt Island, Florida.

Keith Stansell is a former Marine in the United States Marine Corps. He lives with his daughter, Lauren, his son Kyle, his twins Keith Jr. and Nick, and his fiancée, Patricia, in Bradenton, Florida.

Gary Brozek is a freelance writer and the author of more than 20 books, including 6 New York Times bestsellers. He lives in Colorado.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (February 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061769525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061769528
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #797,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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