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The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom | [Slavomir Rawicz]

The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom

Twenty-six-year-old cavalry officer Slavomir Rawicz was captured by the Red Army in 1939 during the German-Soviet partition of Poland and sent to the Siberian Gulag. In the spring of 1941, he escaped with six of his fellow prisoners, including one American. Thus began their astonishing trek to freedom.
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Publisher's Summary

Twenty-six-year-old cavalry officer Slavomir Rawicz was captured by the Red Army in 1939 during the German-Soviet partition of Poland and sent to the Siberian Gulag. In the spring of 1941, he escaped with six of his fellow prisoners, including one American. Thus began their astonishing trek to freedom.

With no map or compass but only an ax head, a homemade knife, and a week's supply of food, the compatriots spent a year making their way on foot to British India, through 4,000 miles of the most forbidding terrain on earth. They braved the Himalayas, the desolate Siberian tundra, icy rivers, and the great Gobi Desert, always a hair's breadth from death. Finally arriving, Rawicz reenlisted in the Polish army to fight the Germans.

©2006 Slavomir Rawicz; (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Nominee, 2008 Audie Award, Solo Narration - Male

"Positively Homeric." (London Times)
"One of the most amazing, heroic stories of this or any other time." (Chicago Tribune)
"It is a book filled with the spirit of human dignity and the courage of men seeking freedom." (Los Angeles Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (371 )
5 star
 (171)
4 star
 (119)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.3 (160 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.3 (155 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Roger South Orange, NJ, United States 09-13-07
    Roger South Orange, NJ, United States 09-13-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    284
    ratings
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    10
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    "Good story, well read"

    This is a very gripping adventure story. There seem to be grave doubts about its truth, however. My guess is that it is a compendium of different stories, including that of the author, and that the gaps and other oddities in the book resulted from the ghostwriter's transitions from one story to another. Still well worth reading!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Millard Columbus, NC USA 05-30-07
    A. Millard Columbus, NC USA 05-30-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    65
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    87
    6
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    FOLLOWING
    1
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    Overall
    "Inspiring and absorbing"

    To me, a great audiobook must contain both great writing and great narration/interpretation. This one has both. The story is absorbing, uplifting, inspiring and educational. In addition, the narrator nails the mood, pace, tempo and inflection. There is some dispute as to the veracity of the story (the book has been around for about 50 years), with some saying it can't possibly be true and others questioning only some episodes. I have done enough research to have a fairly high confidence level in the general truth of the story, but that is really beside the point. It is a great yarn, an inspiration worth your time.

    20 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Utah 02-19-11
    Amazon Customer Utah 02-19-11 Member Since 2009

    tired teacher

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic Survival Story"

    I have always been fascinated by survival stories, and this is one of the best. I can't even imagine what kind of drive it took for these men to leave Siberia, and walk the 4000 miles to India. They hiked through Siberia and the south of Russia, through Mongolia, across the Gobi Dessert, through Tibet, over the Himalayas, and finally after 12 long and uncertain months, arrived in India where they were rescued by the British army. The word "miraculous" does not do this story justice. Just the act of escaping the Siberian work camp during a driving snow storm is nothing short of incredible. What a heart breaking, heart warming story. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

    Narrator John Lee is one of the best. I have heard him narrate several books and have never been disappointed in his ability to tell a story.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. W. Simpson Jr. Seattle, WA USA 07-26-08
    R. W. Simpson Jr. Seattle, WA USA 07-26-08

    Rob Simpson

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    "unbelievable tension"

    I could not wait to get back in my car and resume listening to this title. If you enjoy non-fiction and history; this is the title for you! How the characters survived their tremendous journey had me yelling at my mp3!! Don't miss it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bernard Soihet São Paulo, Brazil 06-20-11
    Bernard Soihet São Paulo, Brazil 06-20-11 Listener Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    4
    3
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    "Good Book; Excellent narrator !"

    The story kept my interest all the time, even having seen the movie previously. The audiobook provides an excellent opportunity to understand better the survival strategy, as well as to know additional important details this of epic adventure. Moreover: Five stars for the narrator.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maria Adkins 12-28-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Adventure story"

    From being tortured by the communists, surviving prison camp in Siberia, and then escaping with 6 prisoners who walked from Siberia through Tibet and onto India, this was an incredible story. The adventure and pace never slackens and it reads like fiction. I know that some people question the veracity of the book, but with the level of detail given, I can’t believe that any of it was made up. This is worth your time for the story’s sake, but truthfully I never really got that attached to the characters.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 01-18-14
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 01-18-14 Member Since 2005

    Business Physicist and Astronomer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Spoiler Alert! DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW"

    Okay, people who read my reviews on Amazon know what's coming. I hate "true stories" or historical pieces that are not TRUE.

    I was enjoying this listen very much though at times it gets a little 'made up' sounding. Almost like the writer is sort of winging it. So, about 3/4ths through, I start doing some research only to discover the whole thing is a fabrication. It's a lie. Well, so what if it's a good story? That can be up to you. For me, it confirmed what I was sensing in the writing. This guy just wasn't there.

    From then on, it was very hard to listen to the story knowing it was all a fake. Then I hit the chapter on their encounter with the abominable snow man. Okay, that was just over the top nonsense.

    It is a fun listen if you don't care or don't know it's a complete fake.

    I am being generous with the stars. I do not care much for John Lee. Everyone sounds like Dracula regardless of accent. He's better than many, however.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Curtis Corinth, TX, United States 06-12-11
    Curtis Corinth, TX, United States 06-12-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Slow to start but kept my attention"

    First: Funny enough, I listened to this just after I took up walking around my neighborhood. I was interested with the telling of the initial scenes up until they seemed to be so detailed that I found myself wishing I had a clearer way to play the audio at x2 speed.

    Next scene: Eventually the scenes move to the migration of the prisoners to Siberia, which, even though I hadn't read the book yet, I could have guessed that was where they were going.

    Queue the prison: I'm still walking, listening, hoping for the 'good parts to make a cameo' and wondering how long I have to listen to this book before we get to walking this long walk the title hints at like a whistling tea kettle. It is getting a little better, and more interesting as the makings of a plan develop and by the time the plan is hatched, I'm hooked.

    Let's run then walk: The break from the prison feels like a penultimate climax, the booms you hear before the finale at a 4th of July fireworks display. I won't give away what happens through the walk, but it is more like navigating a mine filled bay, with low sounding, deep thuds, creating deeper impacts to the story than a flash of sparks in the sky.

    Near the end of the book, there is a mention of folklore that I took away from the credibility of the story.

    I fully recommend this book if you like semi-true stories of hardship and trekking experiences through Siberia, the Gobi, and mountanous regions. It is a little slow to start but I am (unfairly?) comparing this book to Louis L'Amour's "Last of the Breed" which I read ever 5 years or so just because it is so good.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane 02-28-11
    Jane 02-28-11

    Tell us about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Definitely worth listening to"

    John Lee, one of my favorite narrators, brings a measured dignity and care to this harrowing story of human endeavor, comradeship and courage. Rawicz, a Polish soldier, imprisoned in Siberia during the second world war, escapes and this is his account of his prison hell and subsequent long walk out. Ghost written, it is a very restrained account of such an extraordinary achievement.
    There is some question as to the authenticity of the walk, but on balance it seems to be true. It is certainly worth listening to. Published in 1956, it has never out of print and, despite the unimaginable privations endured, Rawicz lived to 89. Distinguished Australian film maker, Peter Weir, has just released a film of this walk called The Way Back.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    10-16-09
    10-16-09 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
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    5
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    "A good narrative. To bad none of it's true."

    The story is gripping, and the narration seems true to the experience. It's too bad none of the experience is true. A 2006 BBC documentary film proved that Rawicz's story was made up.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 29 results PREVIOUS123NEXT
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  • Clare
    Lamerton, Devon, United Kingdom
    11/2/09
    Overall
    "Long swindle, more like"

    There's something about this kind of book that attracts people like me to pay good money to read (or listen to it): namely that it's a factual account of something that happened. Tales of endurance and hardship are only inspiring if they've happened to real people. It's hard to get inspired by the exploits of Reme in Ratatouille for example.

    My suspicions about this book were only aroused near the end with Rawicz's description of, yes, I'm serious, an encounter with two Yeti. Eight feet tall (falling to seven a little later).

    I'm the kind of person who wants to know how it ended beyond the book. You know, what was the rest of his life like? What about the others on the walk? What ultimately happened to them? So I consulted Wikipedia, which in no time at all informed me that this story (not least the Yeti episode) doesn't stand close scrutiny.

    All of which leaves me, frankly, feeling like I've been swindled. I hope this review serves as a 'errata' sticker for the front cover of this book.

    To sum up? Well written but deceptive.

    25 of 27 people found this review helpful
  • Jacqueline
    cirencester, glos., United Kingdom
    1/7/11
    Overall
    "Read the TRUE story not this fiction!"

    Exclusive: The Greatest Escape - war hero who walked 4,000 miles from Siberian death camp


    By Dennis Ellam and Adam Lee Potter 16/05/2009

    Told for the first time the incredible story of Witold Glinski's escape from the Russians across the Gobi desert and through the Himalayas to freedom in India.. a journey that took him 11 months.
    It was an epic feat of courage and strength. A triumph of human spirit over tyranny.

    Witold Glinski is the last survivor of World War Two's greatest escape.

    As he lovingly crafts another willow basket in the shed at his seaside bungalow in Cornwall, it's hard to believe that this modest man walked 4,000 miles to freedom; all the way from a Siberian prison camp to India.

    He trekked through frozen forests, over mountains and across deserts on a journey that took 11 months.

    Seven men were in the break-out, in February 1941. Only four reached safety, at a British base over the Indian border, the following January. And Witold, 84, has now emerged to recall their astonishing story. It's time to tell the truth he says. It's time people knew.

    Witold has waited more than 50 years for this moment. In 1956, a book called The Long Walk claimed to tell how seven prisoners escaped from a labour camp in Siberia and walked to India.

    It was every bit Witold's story and became an international bestseller, but the man who claimed to have made the epic journey was Slavomir Rawicz, a former Polish officer.

    After Rawicz died in 2006, a BBC radio documentary uncovered proof that he was a fake, military records showed that he was serving in Persia (now Iran) at the time of the escape.

    Full article can be read in May 2010 issue of Reader's Digest

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Mary
    Crawley, United Kingdom
    11/9/07
    Overall
    "Gripping"

    I was completely gripped by this astonishing and inspiring story. I have a long commute and sometimes my attention span is not great, but with this book I was actually pleased when the motorway traffic ground to a halt and the journey took longer than planned. I constantly wanted to know what was going to happen next and this book has stayed in my thoughts since I finished it.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Ben
    Shrewsbury, United Kingdom
    5/1/11
    Overall
    "A Wonderful Adventure"

    First and foremost, 'The Long Walk' is a truly epic story of adventure and misadventure. The characters, although not deeply emotionally explored, are interesting and relateable. The build-up and escape from the gulag is tense and terrifying. The epic walk to freedom is both distressing and inspiring. But what I enjoyed most was the interactions the group of escapees have with the locals of the regions they pass through.

    I disagree with the comments of some reviewers; this is a captivating adventure story, one of the best in the genre. The incident with the 'Yetis' is entirely believeable and in keeping with continuous unexplained sightings of ape species in the Himalaya by respected sources. Anyway, why else would it be written in a travelogue, if not true? And as for not tying up loose ends...the book is called 'The Long Walk', not 'The Long Walk and what happened to the escapees in the ensuing 40-odd years'.

    The only reason I was left feeling slightly disappointed with 'The Long Walk' was after I had joyfully completed it and began researching it. The writer was apparently not involved in the trek and was instead, serving time in a different gulag. There was later a claim from a polish man living in the UK, that it was he about whom the story was written. But the original author never agreed on this...why is there so much continuing debate? I don't know the answer.

    What I do know is that the book is based on true events and a true trek, completed by a group of prisoners from a Gulag to freedom. Don't let the anti-author authenticity claims prevent you from enjoying this astounding tale.

    If you enjoy reading of human hardship, travel and true adventure, then you will not be disappointed by 'The Long Walk'.

    Ben Waddams

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Tim
    Norwich, Norfolk, United Kingdom
    2/5/11
    Overall
    "A guilty confession"

    I started listening to this book fully anticipating an interesting and informative experience. Unfortunately I was let down. Not by the subject matter, what could be more exciting than a remarkable true story of escape and endurance beyond belief. It was just the way the story was told. I feel guilty saying this but it was just boring.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Anjum
    LondonUnited Kingdom
    2/8/11
    Overall
    "Inspiring survival story"

    This is an amazing story, which shows just how much people can achieve in the face of adversity. The experiences of the walkers are at turns horrific and uplifting; you get a real sense of the hardships they endure and the growing friendship between them as they continue their journey. There have been questions as to the authenticity of the story, but I?d suggest you leave that aside and simply immerse yourself in this highly enjoyable, gripping story.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Susan
    Alcester, Warwickshire, United Kingdom
    11/10/10
    Overall
    "The Long Walk"


    I was absolutely absorbed and amazed by this book. The reader was brilliant and kept my attention throughout. Please find me another one like this one.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Jo Blogs
    England UK
    10/19/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Don't think it is 100% true"
    Where does The Long Walk rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top


    What other book might you compare The Long Walk to, and why?

    A shallow graves in Siberia which is true so we'll worth the read


    What does John Lee bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    I am dyslexic


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    Great story I think it is a mish mash of the authors experience and other peoples stories

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • leonora
    Caxias, Portugal
    1/27/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Spirit of Survival"
    Where does The Long Walk rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 10


    What other book might you compare The Long Walk to, and why?

    "Spirit of Resistance" because I have first-hand knowledge of the men who attempted these escapes and survived


    What does John Lee bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    It was a long trek and John Lee keeps up the momentum and brings the images to life in a way that reading the book would probably have passed me by in my anxiety to get on with the story. I really enjoy John Lee's readings.


    Any additional comments?

    I listened to this book through sleepless nights. A page-turner, if I had been turning the pages!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Julia
    Ferndown, United Kingdom
    10/20/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant"
    Where does The Long Walk rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The Long Walk is one of my top 5 audio books. It's even more compelling as it may be true. Either way it is a fantastic adventure story about bravery, intrigue and survival in the harshest of times. The narration is absorbing and it is well worth a listen.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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