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Slavomir Rawicz’s “The Long Walk”

February 1, 2017

Rawicz Scan

For our 61st book, I decided I’d search for a book unlike any of those featured in the first 60. Preferably, it would be a true narrative that was close to unputdownable. A book that—once read—would be impossible to forget. I found it!

Here are some reviews:

An escape story that combines the best elements of a suspense novel and a travelogue through purgatory. —Newsweek

More than one hundred adventure books are published every year, yet I doubt if any is as gripping and filled with suspense as The Long Walk. A journey of 4,000 miles, with neither map nor compass, equipped with only an axehead, a homemade knife and insuperable determination to live—that is the essence of this book.

Slavomir Rawicz [a Polish officer] and six companions broke out of a Soviet slave labor camp and walked south into the endless crushing spaces of Siberia headed for Tibet. That Rawicz survived to tell his story is a miracle of human endurance. Through nights so cold that sleep meant certain death, through scorching days when heat drove men to the brink of insanity, Rawicz moved on.

The suspense of the book builds to a climax when the threads of life all but unravel a few miles short of the goal. Once you have begun The Long Walk, you cannot willingly lay it down.  —San Francisco Examiner

It is one of the most amazing, heroic stories of this or any other time. —Chicago Tribune

An adventure classic worthy to rank alongside Captain Bligh’s Long Journey and Thor Heyerdahl’s trans-Pacific raft trip. —Minneapolis Tribune

* * *

Constable and Company Ltd
Constable and Company Ltd

The story begins on the eve of World War I, in 1939, and concludes in late winter of 1942. Even before the 4,000-mile ordeal took place, Slavomir Rewicz was tortured for months by fiendish Soviets in Moscow, then sentenced to 25 years in a Siberian prison camp; the hellish ride across Siberia staggers the mind, as does the thousand mile trek on foot (in chains), in the dead of a Siberian winter, to a prison labor camp—all this before the long walk even begins!

Constable and Company Ltd
Constable and Company Ltd

The book was first published in London in 1956 by Constable and Company, then it was picked up by Harpers and other publishing houses around the world. I first read it early in the 1960’s—and have never been able to forget it.

Be sure and purchase an unabridged copy for your library

One thought on “Slavomir Rawicz’s “The Long Walk”

  1. I hope that everyone reads this story of courage and endurance, of selflessness and hope.

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