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Midnight Express

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  2,610 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
Midnight Express tells the gut-wrenching true story of a young man’s incarceration and escape from a Turkish prison. A classic story of survival and human endurance, told with humor, honesty, and heart, it became the Academy Award-winning blockbuster film of the same name.

In 1970 Billy Hayes was an English major who left college in search of adventures to write about, like
Paperback, New Edition, 248 pages
Published March 2013 by Curly Brains Press (first published 1977)
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Community Reviews

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Rating details
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Aug 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who have capacious trousers
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: pop culture infiltration
Having lived, worked and travelled extensively in Turkey for many many years I can't believe I waited so long to read this. "Midnight express" is a commonly used phrase amongst many of us who've lived in the remote parts of Turkey. Even now it's a sort of watch word for remembering to toe the line and avoid situations which might lead to incarceration. Billy Hayes' story has infiltrated its way into popular culture.

Admittedly there are many better written books on Turkey to peruse, including Ist
Petra X
Update: This is the wrong Billy Hayes. (Thank you Kim). I stand by the sentiments of the review, and sorry Mr. Midnight Express Hayes. I have also seen mention of the right Bill Hayes in some obituaries, but not in any of the major media ones that published yesterday, when Oliver Sacks died.

We have a long way to go

The synchronicities of the world, or perhaps the bits of flotsam thrown up on the sea of Chaos can sometimes startle you with their relevance.

This book popped up as a recommenda
The Queen of Your Dreams!
Libro autobiográfico basado en la historia real de Billy Hayes, un ciudadano norteamericano que viaja a Turquía y es prisionero en condiciones inhumanas por traficar Hachís, una droga ilegal pegada en su cuerpo. Sirvió de guión para la película homónima protagonizada por Brad Davis y John Hurt. BSO a cargo de Giorgio Moroder.

40 Anniversary
Nov 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit that this was a surprisingly good book, in spite of the fact that I really have a dislike for the author. I had seen the movie decades ago, so I had (I thought) a good idea of what I would find in the pages of this particular piece of literature. It wasn't long before I realized that the movie had been fictionalized to the point of being a totally different story.

I can't work up any sympathy for the author, a bisexual smuggler who brought his ordeal on himself through his selfishly mo
♥ Marlene♥
How weird really that I had never read this book while I love to read books about people in foreign prisons. This is the most famous one so why did I not pick it up sooner? I think because of the movie.

Vaguely I recall having watched the movie as a teenager and that I was shocked and liked it. That is what I recall) but that is why I probably did not read it. I have a tendency to not read a book once I have watched the movie because when I do that the characters of the book will look like the on
Asails F
Feb 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic, personal, and
It was supposedly a true story. Today I listened to Billy Hayes tell the story he always wanted. It was different than the book and far from the movie. I liked his new true story better.

This leaves me with another foul feeling about the publishing industry. I can hope goodreads brings out the truth about deplorable acts in this industry.

Billy used to hang out around Bluepoint and Sayville Long Island and drugs were everywhere. He made an easy buck and lost it all. He stated it was his life chan
So this one of those books I am surprised I haven't read before now. Fairly well known, the plug on the cover says 'A harrowing true story in the great Papillion tradition', which it really is.
The short version of the plot - in 1970 a foolish American decides to stick 2kg of hash in his pants just before boarding his flight home. Caught, he enters he Turkish police cells, then on to prison. He attends court a couple of times, is sentenced to a short stay, which is subsequently changed to thirty
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Will have to read this book again. Not a great piece of work for sure.
That's my take on it right now. Awkward to read.
I'll leave it at that for now. If I reread it I'll post another review.
Christian, Kelanth, Scala
Ho sempre adorato il film "Fuga di Mezzanotte", è uno dei miei film preferiti, quelli che riguardo ogni tanto per rispolverare i ricordi che ne ho. Non per niente ha vinto due Oscar e tra le varie firme si può leggere Oliver Stone, insomma non stiamo parlando dell'ultimo "Vacanze di Natale".

Quest'estate ero in Svizzera, gironzolavo tra le bancarelle di Lugano e da lontano ho visto la copertina di questo libro, non sapevo neanche che prima del film ci fu il libro, potevo immaginarlo certamente,
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonella by: Papá
Expreso de medianoche nos narra la historia de William, "Billy", el mismo escritor, quién es condenado a 30 años en una prisión de Turquía.
El libro es muy rápido de leer. Es narrado desde la perspectiva del protagonista y nos cuenta cada experiencia dentro de la prisión, a un ritmo muy rápido.
Aunque ya sepas como termina la historia (lo cuenta la sinopsis), la pregunta del ¿cómo? se mantiene durante todo el libro.
Si bien yo me esperaba "más acción", por así decirle, creo que sucede todo muy rápi
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Siguiendo la temática leída en "Papillon", mi siguiente lectura fue la de este libro.
Cumple con su función, te cuenta una historia y no trata de ser pomposa en su intento, el gancho es inmediato.
Basada en una historia real (con alguna que otra mentirilla piadosa), Expreso de medianoche es la crónica de Billy Hayes en una cárcel de Turquía tras su fallido intento de pasar hachís de contrabando. Y no digo mas para evitar spoilers.
La película es buena sin dudas, PERO no es 100% fiel al libro, inc
Dec 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was difficult for me to read in that it portrays Turkey and the Turks in such a bad light. I lived in Turkey around the same time as Billy Hayes was imprisoned there yet found the Turks to be kind and hospitable, generous and magnanimous. Having said that I do not doubt that prison life as described by Hayes was awful and perhaps still is. The book is a quick read and not great literature.
Writing is not so great, but story interesting enough. What I hated was the main character, Billy. Hello, moron, if you are caught sneaking drugs into (or was it out of? I can't remember) Turkey, and you were warned not to do it, then you must suffer the consequences. I had no sympathy for Billy. He came across as the typical American asshole in a foreign country and then had the audacity to complain when he was punished for his crime. Dumb ass.
I read this for the first time when I was around 13, after my father began subscribing to a pay-TV network (ON-TV in L.A., for those in-the-know) and I started seeing R-rated movies for the first time. Midnight Express was one of the first R-rated movies I ever saw.

The film made a serious impression on me, since it was set in a strange country, in a prison which made American prisons look like country clubs. It depicted smuggling, torture, violence, squalor, tension, fear, depravity, drug use, m
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This gut wrenching, brutality honest story of Billy Hayes a US citizen surviving a Turkish prison for a risky mistake of thinking he could take on a US plane several kilos of hashish was bold and outlandish. He is sent to a Turkish prison that is definitely not Club Med by any means and it is the beginning of sheer survival and endurance of staying alive after being sentenced to 33 years for his crime.

After numerous attempts from the US Consulate and his parents helping for his release he is sub
Jason Vedder
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I took a non-fiction writing class in Ames/ISU and we required to read two non-fiction books. I choose this one (the teacher was a little dismayed at my choice as it had been a movie. But I told the class. The movie is all wrong and doesn't really follow the book. The screenplay was by Oliver Stone. A lot of the book is rearranged for the movie, which kind of made me mad. Hayes stupidly broke the law, but he never bit a guys tongue off, he faked being crazy and girl that flashed him was not his ...more
Μια αληθινή ιστορία για τον ανθρώπινο αγώνα επιβίωσης σε έναν σκληρό κόσμο που ονομάζεται φυλακή. Δεν ξέρω αν ο πρωταγωνιστής βρέθηκε απόλυτα αδικημένος σε πρωτόγνωρα τουρκικά καθεστώτα ,ίσως εκ διαμέτρου αντίθετα με τα ιδεώδη της Αμερικής του '70 ,καθώς κάπου υπάρχει μια υπερβολή στο θέμα της αφεσης αμαρτιών των χρηστών και κατόχων χασισιου. Η δύναμη και η θέληση παρ όλα αυτά για δραπετευση σε έναν αγώνα εκτός ανθρωπίνων ορίων ,δείχνει τη βαθιά και πανανθρώπινη ανάγκη για ελευθερία. Ο,τι και αν ...more
Diana Maria
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
En una palabra: Excepcional. Me encantó esta travesía emprendida sin querer por un hombre que por una mala decisión perdió algo que no se puede recuperar y que es tan valioso como lo es el tiempo, haciéndonos reflexionar en tantas cosas que damos por sentadas en la vida y que dejamos de disfrutar y darles el verdadero valor que se merecen.
Mar 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, 2006, true-crime
The story of Billy Hayes in that Turkish prison is interesting, though disturbing. I wonder if there are parts that have been made up or embellished.

The downside of this book is that close minded people will automatically think that Turkey is awful, which is not true at all. I was in Turkey last year and it was beautiful.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Saw the movie as a teenager. Every pot smoker's nightmare -- being busted for drug possession in Turkey & sent to a Turkish prison. Even now, decades later, Hayes' story still has the capacity to scare the bejeezus out of you.
Keith Larkworthy
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The book is better and different than the film (and the film was brilliant)
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Billy Hayes was a traveling college dropout, bumming his way across Europe and believing himself invincible and unique in the way many over-privileged white kids with the independence to travel abroad so annoyingly do. In a unusually bold fundraising effort, however, Billy attempts to leave Istanbul with multiple kilos of hashish taped to his body. He is subsequently caught during a surprise anti-terror search on the tarmac, with one foot on the plane. So begins a legal nightmare that sees him t ...more
Alfonso escamilla
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
lo unico que no puedo dejar de pensar, es que esto fue real, sin duda una muestra de que la realidad supera muchas veces la ficcion, lo malo, que en partes es confuso y lento, pero en general un muy buen libro, con toques novelescos para hacerlo mas interesante, y en todo el libro no dejas de preguntarte si esta bien su sancion, o estan exagerando los turcos, no sabes de que lado ponerte, sientes lastima por el protagonista pero otras veces dices, se lo merece
Kieran McAndrew
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Billy Hayes was caught by Turkish police trying to smuggle hashish out of the country. Convicted, he was eventually sentenced to thirty years in prison. His only hope for a normal life and a return to the United States was to plan a dangerous escape.

Told in a simple, open, style, Hayes' autobiographical account of his time in prison is harsh and brutal.
I had very little sympathy for the main character. He knew it was against the law to deal drugs in Turkey. He was surprised he wasn't going to be incarcerated like he would have been in the U.S.? That Turks treat criminals differently? Would he then go to Singapore and chew gum? Just plain stupid.
Susan Birrell
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having seen the movie years ago, I was curious to find out how the book compared. It came up on search I was doing on Turkey.
The movie seems to have been a made for Hollywood version when compared to Billy's telling of what really happened.
Jason Robinson
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Compulsively readable true story of the triumph of human spirit over adversity.
Ana Rodera
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: day-by-day
Lectura ágil y cercana.
Ofrece una visión de las cárceles de Turquía en los 70.
Película disponible:
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una vicenda drammatica, un racconto ad altissima tensione: come uscire da una prigione turca con l'accusa di possesso di droga?
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“La soledad es un agudo dolor generalizado. No se le puede aislar en una sola parte del cuerpo.” 0 likes
“Los soldados me llevaron afuera. El traductor me siguió y me comunicó oficialmente mi sentencia. Cadena perpetua, reducida a treinta años. Mi liberación se fijaba para el año 2000. Con la reducción del tiempo por buena conducta, estaría libre el 7 de octubre de 1990. En diecisiete años yo tendría cuarenta y tres. Lillian tendría cuarenta y dos. El 1984 de George Orwell habría llegado y partido. El cometa Halley habría vuelto y también se habría marchado. Me perdería cuatro elecciones presidenciales más y cuatro olimpíadas. Papá se habría retirado, mamá estaría encanecida. Mis hermanos quizá se habrían casado y tendrían hijos adolescentes que saludarían al tío maduro a su regreso de Turquía. La juventud de mi vida se evaporaría en una cárcel turca.

-Getchmis Olsun -me deseó uno de los soldados que me llevaban a la cárcel. "Que pase pronto.”
More quotes…