Natalie's Reviews > The Long Walk

The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz
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's review
Feb 01, 11

bookshelves: real-life, adventure-outdoors, memoir, survival, europe-and-russia
read count: 1

I found this to be more than just a survival story when I read it years ago. Now a new Peter Weir (remember when Master and Commander came to the screen)? movie titled The Way Back is based on the book and attention is being drawn to whether Rawicz's account was a hoax or a rip off.

In a CS Monitor Movie Review of The Way Back The reviewer states: "He was indeed forced-marched by the Russians to a Siberian gulag but he didn't escape, he was amnestied.". At the other end of the spectrum, a UGO review says "The press notes are very sketchy as to whether or not The Way Back is a true story. . . .Frankly, it can't be true. But, for many years, it was believed to be true, and I believe at least parts of it to be true. And when you see the amazing, Lord of the Rings-like struggle of this group, that'll be impressive enough."

If it's good enough for male audiences 18-34 it should be good enough for me, right? The question here on GR is, should I change my rating from 5 stars to 3 or is it a great story EVEN IF IT ISNT TRUE?

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

Witold Glinski, in Cornwall, UK has made a public announcement in May 2009 as reported in the British tabloid newspaper The Daily MirrorExclusive: The Greatest Escape - war hero who walked 4,000 miles from Siberian death camp
that similar events DID happen, but to him (not Rawicz)!

The likeliest explanation accepted by today's reporters and media is that Rawicz read Witold’s genuine account of the escape, in official papers that he found in the Polish Embassy in London during the war and then Rawicz's ghost writer embellished the story that would be sold in 1956 as The Long Walk. I has kept on selling for years, right up to the present time when the story is being brought as The Way Back on film to the theater.

The wikipedia article on Slavomir Rawicz references an Outside Oline article titled To Tell the Truth
Is it fact or is it fiction? The perplexing story behind The Long Walk.
from 2003
and a BBC story titled Walking the talk? from 2006 each calling Rawicz's account into question.

I find it hard to believe the details of the walk were not real . . . why would you make up something as mundane as some of their hiding places and what they stole to eat? The majesty in the story was that they kept on and that their will to get back to friendly territory kept them moving? Is that part of the story on the scrap heap of history now too?

Here's a promo shot from the Peter Weir's new movie based on the book titled: The Way Back, but now I don't want to see it half as much as I did before I was wondering who really made the walk, how do they know who to cast? This is who they've got:

Playing either Witold:

or Rawicz:


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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Natalie The story behind a story could begin in the fine tradition of many "stolen stories" reminiscent of seagoing survival adventures that begin "we picked up a man and he told this story . . . "

Who can not be drawn into a story told by such narrators(as Rawicz must have been?), like RW in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein who begins his famous story saying:
"I have resolved every night, when I am not imperatively occupied by my duties, to record, as nearly as possible in his own words,what he has related during the day. If I should be engaged, I will at least make notes."

Perhaps Rawicz, like RW before him, didn't make those notes verbatim from the reports he read, but told them instead as he re-imagined them from memory?

It will be intersting to see if any of the other members or heirs of Rawicz's purported party find in the movie something akin to an uncanny familiarity with a story they once thought their own?

Brian wrote: "It sounds like the story behind this story may be more interesting than the story itself!"

Natalie Finally watched The Way Back today - well worth the time

And found looking for mr smith which is going to distract my currently reading status !

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