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Editor reviews

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia-People’s Army - known popularly as FARC - is a guerrilla organization (considered by some to be terrorist in nature) that advocates a violent imposition of Marxist-Leninist politics in Columbia. If you are a U.S. Defense Department contractor, the FARC region of the Columbian jungle is not where you want your plane to crash land. And yet, that is exactly what happened to a group of Americans in February of 2003.

Mark Deakins performs this harrowing story of those who survived the crash and nearly 2000 days in FARC captivity. In alternating sections, the survivors recall terror, exhaustion, insects, sicknesses, and many other maladies endured in their long wait for freedom. Particularly interesting is that a fellow captive was Columbian politician Ingrid Betancourt.

Summary

On February 13, 2003, a plane carrying three American civilian contractors - Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Tom Howes - crash-landed in the mountainous jungle of Colombia. Dazed and shaken, they emerged from the plane bloodied and injured as gunfire rained down around them.

As of that moment they were prisoners of the FARC, a Colombian terrorist and Marxist rebel organization. In an instant they had become American captives in Colombia's volatile and ongoing conflict, which has lasted for almost 50 years.

In Out of Captivity, Gonsalves, Stansell, and Howes recount for the first time their amazing tale of survival, friendship, and, ultimately, rescue, tracing their five and a half years as hostages of the FARC. Their story takes you inside one of the world's most notorious terrorist organizations, going behind enemy lines with vivid and haunting imagery. Their words conjure a reality that few people have ever encountered, from sleeping on beds literally carved out of the jungle to escaping Colombian military air strikes under the cover of darkness, to being bound with steel chains by their captors.

Though the physical punishments their bodies endured were unrelenting, the psychological battles they waged were the ultimate test of their resolve. With candid detail, Gonsalves, Stansell, and Howes relate the perilous mental struggles they each experienced, as they grappled with feelings of guilt, fear, and anxiety for the families and lives they'd left behind. Exposing the transformative power of captivity, they show how they turned these fears into strengths, using their memories and their families, their pasts and their futures, to motivate them in their quest for survival.

Despite the odds and the conditions, despite the chains and the silence, and despite the often tense relationships they experienced with their fellow Colombian hostages, they had one another, forging a bond that allowed them to cope with the horrific conditions of their...

©2009 Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Tom Howes (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • 26-03-09

great

this is a great book. helps put things into perspective.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • James C
  • 04-07-10

Fascinating!

This is a fascinating story that hasn't received a lot of coverage in the media! Highly recommend both for the content and narration. Interesting from both psychological and cultural perspectives, the authors describe their experiences over five years of captivity in the jungle in a very candid manner.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Magda
  • 05-05-09

good to know how is life in there

I like the book. I like to hear how ingrid betancourt reacted and behaved. While you listen you can imagene everything

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • George
  • 12-02-10

One of the best dramas I have read

This is without a doubt the best real life drama I have read. What a ride! Should be a movie.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Marian
  • 05-09-09

Could Have Been Better....

It was okay but nothing to write home about. I expected better as I was led to believe in the reviews. Also the narrator`s switching from one person to another to narrate was confusing.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Taylor
  • 01-08-09

Not an average workday

Loved it! Nice, clear narration, too. I first heard about this book in an NPR interview with two of the authors. Amazing how these men sustained hope for so long against such overwhelming odds. Their accounts don't sugarcoat life as captives of Colombian rebels. It can be just a little gritty, but without being depressing. I want to hear if the Freedom Ride ever happens!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • W. straubhaar
  • 12-04-09

Excellent documentary

I found this book excellent. I spend a lot of time in Colombia and and interested in how the FARC operates versus what I always heard in the media. Hearing these first hand stories from the inside was fantastic. They do an excellent job recanting the past and bring the experience directly to the listener. Thank god they got out alive and were able to share their story.
This is a great historical document.