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so ask already!!! > Escape / Survival

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message 1: by Emily (last edited Mar 02, 2011 09:44AM) (new)

Emily (emduck) | 16 comments Escape (Prison, life situation) / survival -- especially against enormous odds.

Sample books include:

City of Thieves, by David Benioff - fictionalized account of a true story

Escape From Colditz, by P.R. Reid - true account

The Great Escape, by Paul Brickhill - true account

Papillon, by Henri Charrière - true account

Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival, by Joe Simpson

True-life stories from WW II are definitely appreciated, but not if too much detail about life in prison camps is included...I just can't take it.


message 2: by Christy (last edited Feb 23, 2011 05:57PM) (new)

Christy (christymtidwell) | 149 comments Are you looking for something like a novel or memoir that follows just one narrative? Or is a book with multiple stories in it okay?

I really enjoyed Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why, which is a nonfiction book that describes quite a few situations in which people must try to survive after, for instance, a plane crash or getting lost on a mountain. It's occurred to me after typing this out that it might not quite match your request, though, since it's not just about those who survive - some of the stories he tells are about people who don't make it.

I also enjoyed In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, which is another nonfiction book, this one about the sinking of a whaling ship. Moby Dick was based on this story.


message 3: by Emily (last edited Feb 23, 2011 09:19PM) (new)

Emily (emduck) | 16 comments I love memoirs, but have found that novels, e.g., City of Thieves, are often more exciting to read since they're written so darn well.

So, either first-person accounts of escape/survival, or fictionalized/re-told accounts--I find these endlessly fascinating.

I will definitely check out both of your recommendations, thanks so much!


message 5: by Emily (new)

Emily (emduck) | 16 comments Thanks Chris ! I've tried "Into Thin Air", but just couldn't get into his writing style, but "We Die Alone" is right up my alley!


message 6: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
are you more interested in the mechanics of escape, or the psychology of it all?


message 7: by Emily (last edited Feb 26, 2011 08:10AM) (new)

Emily (emduck) | 16 comments Both, but my fascination does lie with the mechanical side of things. Like in Colditz, they flew out of the castle on a homemade glider. Amazing!

I've just added The Great Escape to my list of books I love in this genre. Brickhill goes into great detail, including photographs, of the ingenious devices that were built in the course of this daring, huge escape.

The wow factor here definitely won't come from reading fictionalized accounts. What I love and find inspiring is that real people really did these things.


message 8: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) Emily, I'm currently reading A Child al Confino: The True Story of a Jewish Boy and His Mother in Mussolini’s Italy. The boy and his mom do stay one step away from the Nazis. I'm not sure if it is quite what you are looking for, though.


message 9: by Emily (new)

Emily (emduck) | 16 comments Chris, I find this kind of reading very compelling, just what I was hoping to find. Thanks!


message 10: by Cassy (last edited Mar 02, 2011 09:32AM) (new)

Cassy (cassybooks) | 4 comments I bought this book years ago, but haven't read it yet. It seems appropriate: [Book:Papillon] by Henri Charrière. It is an autobiography about an escape from prison.


message 11: by Emily (last edited Mar 02, 2011 09:41AM) (new)

Emily (emduck) | 16 comments Papillon is the book that got me hooked; I read it in high school. I think I'll add it to the original list, up top, on "books like these"! Excellent read, very well told story, amazing tale of survival, and TRUE!


message 12: by Kathrina (new)

Kathrina | 50 comments I loved Shantaram, a fiction-based-on-fact account of an Australian ex-con escaping authorities by getting lost in India. I liked Papillon, too, but keep in mind this one is also "based on fact," but very much elaborated to make a good story. The author admits not all the events actually happened to him -- some are rumors or other people's experiences amalgamated.


message 13: by Kathrina (new)

Kathrina | 50 comments Also, for WWII, The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom is an incredible account of walking from Siberia to North Africa, escaping a penal colony. I understand it's a movie now, too, but I haven't seen it.


message 14: by Jason (new)

Jason Brown (Toastx2) (toastx2) | 9 comments Emily wrote: "The Great Escape, by Paul Brickhill - true account

Papillon, by Henri Charrière - true account ..."


mmm. both great books, BUT also both great movies.

Papillon - Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman - 2.5 hours of awesome.

Great escape - Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charlie Bronson, James Coburn.... even more awesome.


message 15: by Natalie (new)

Natalie (nkmeyers) | 10 comments Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 is a contemporary escape memoir from the war in Afghanistan.


message 16: by Kathrina (new)

Kathrina | 50 comments Jason, you're right. Papillon the movie was a great showcase for both actors. Dustin Hoffman takes a role that was much more minor in the book and expands it (thus, again, changing the story) to a heroic and sympathetic lead.


message 17: by Natalie (new)

Natalie (nkmeyers) | 10 comments Here are some fiction escape/survival stories with female protagonists:

Nevil Shute's A Town Like Alice weaves an amazing WWII era tale of escape and survival where the female protagonist, Jean, a young British woman in SE Asia becomes a prisoner of war force-marched for miles and miles.

(view spoiler).

For YA and readers of all ages:
John Marsden's Darkness, Be My Friend which is part of the Tomorrow Series has great escape and survival scenes. All the Tomorrow stories have a bleak survival setting. Darkness, Be My Friend has escape situations that emphasize decisions about saving your own hide vs helping a member of your group.


message 19: by Eh?Eh! (last edited Mar 07, 2011 11:19AM) (new)

Eh?Eh! | 51 comments Emily! I can lend you Shantaram!

A coworker is reading something and his description seemed to be exactly what you're looking for: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand


message 20: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) Eh?Eh! wrote: "Emily! I can lend you Shantaram!

A coworker is reading something and his description seemed to be exactly what you're looking for: [book:Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, a..."


Emily, Unbroken is a very good book, but it does chronicle imprisonment and abuse in a prison camp for part of the novel.


message 21: by Emily (new)

Emily (emduck) | 16 comments OMG, no time to write. Off to Powell's TODAY, thanks everyone. And YES on the Long Walk -- absolutely hands down amazing, and TRUE. Thanks everyone!


message 22: by Kathrina (new)

Kathrina | 50 comments Yay, you liked the Long Walk! I am smiling even though it is so sad.


message 23: by Emily (new)

Emily (emduck) | 16 comments Kathrina, Didn't like it... it was one of those books I couldn't put down until it was through. I didn't even want to eat... Amazing, from start to finish! Thanks! Em


message 24: by Natalie (last edited Mar 20, 2011 10:46PM) (new)

Natalie (nkmeyers) | 10 comments Turns out in spite of its title, The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom is probably NOT true.

A new Peter Weir (remember when Master and Commander came to the screen)? movie titled The Way Back is based on the book and that has brought new attention to whether Rawicz's account was a hoax or a rip off. Seems like it was a rip-off -there really was a walk, but Rawicz didn't actually walk the walk!

I tried to track down the claims about the story's falsity in my review but here's the gist of it:
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 made a public announcement in May 2009 that similar events did happen, but to him (not Rawicz) -The accepted belief now seems to be that Rawicz read of Glinski's account and sensationalized it as his own adventure.

Here's a picture of Witold Glinski (the fellow who probably really DID make the long walk) and below him a picture of the author (who probably didn't!)


or Rawicz:



Emily wrote: "And YES on the Long Walk -- absolutely hands down amazing, and TRUE. Thanks everyone!"


message 25: by Brian R. (new)

Brian R. Mcdonald Although Shantaram has a bit about the narrator's prison escape, it is mostly about his life in India. The time is spent on the run but that has little to do with the plot or scene; it is not really an escape book. It is, however, excellent.


message 26: by Patricia (new)

Patricia (rizeandshine) How about Rabbit Proof Fence? It's a true story about three young girls who escape from a settlement school for Aboriginal children and must cross half a continent in order to be reunited with their families.


message 27: by Emily (last edited Apr 01, 2011 02:36AM) (new)

Emily (emduck) | 16 comments Thanks for recommending Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why. It helped me understand why I'm so fascinated with this topic. Also contains a wonderful bibliography, so I've got books to read for the next year.


message 28: by Emily (new)

Emily (emduck) | 16 comments I'll definitely check out Rabbit Proof Fence. Reminds me of a book I'd forgotten about, which peripherally fits into this genre: Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival. Absolutely beautiful legend of courage and survival - only complaint is it's such a short read.


message 29: by Emily (last edited Apr 01, 2011 02:40AM) (new)

Emily (emduck) | 16 comments Natalie wrote: "Turns out in spite of its title, The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom is probably NOT true.

Ah... sadness. Well, it's still well-told!


message 30: by Emily (new)

Emily (emduck) | 16 comments Jason (FNORDinc) wrote: "mmm. both great books, BUT also both great movies."
To be sure! The Great Escape, though a lovely film, made the whole affair out to be a bit more of a party than it was though. But still, the famous McQueen scene with the motorcyle alone is worth the price of admission.


message 31: by Emily (new)

Emily (emduck) | 16 comments Chris wrote: "Emily, I'm currently reading A Child al Confino: The True Story of a Jewish Boy and His Mother in Mussolini’s Italy.
Chris, I'm half-way through this, and it's a good read. Skimpy on action, but rich in giving one a sense of the way the times felt. Plus, what a bizarre set of circumstances. I knew nothing about Mussolini's "al confino" practice before. Thank you.


message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

I just read Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston which was quite amazing (though a little graphic).


message 33: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
did any of these work for you?


Sam~~ we cannot see the moon, and yet the waves still rise~~ | 110 comments A Long Way Gone. It's a completely true account of a boy escaping the civil war in Sierra Leon. Especially nerve-wracking in the will-he-ever-escape way when he is forced to become a child soldier.


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