The Long Walk Audio Book Review

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

Authored by Slavomir Rawicz, Narrated by John Lee

Audiobook, 9 hours and 34 minutes

Published by Blackstone Audio, May 2007

Language: English


Slavomir Rawicz was a Polish cavalry officer who fought against the German invasion in 1939.  After Poland was partitioned he found himself in the Soviet zone of control near the Ukrainian border.  He spoke Russian, which was the pretext used by the Soviets to arrest him on charges of spying.  An elaborate show trial resulted in his being found guilty and he was sentenced to 25 years in a Siberian labor camp.

The journey to Siberia was made packed into cattle cars for the most part, the last several days on foot through the snow with lines of men chained behind trucks.  Several died along the way.  The camp was little better, but the men were permitted to build barracks which provided shelter.  Their main endeavor was the production of skis for the Red Army, which earned them an increased ration of bread.  The prospect of spending the next 25 years in the camp did not appeal to Rawicz.  He enlisted the help of six other prisoners, and one night they slipped through the wire in a snowstorm.

They had each saved enough rations and basic supplies to last a week, and between them they had an axe and a knife.  Their plan was simple – walk south.  Together, this is what they did for almost a year, covering roughly 4,000 miles of inhospitable terrain.  They passed through the Siberian steppe, the Gobi Desert, the foothills of the Himalayas, and eventually reached British controlled India and salvation.

This is an epic story of survival, well told and engaging.  The author shares numerous fascinating details of their journey and what they did to survive, what they ate, the people they met and their customs, and the will to persist and keep going day after day.  There is a movie adaptation called “The Way Back”, but after reading the synopsis and seeing the trailer for the film it is evident it does not follow the book except in the most general terms.  I quite enjoyed this book, and can recommend it without hesitation.


9 thoughts on “The Long Walk Audio Book Review

  1. I have heard of the movie, but have not watched it.
    Back in the 80’s I was doingWWII reenacting, and was a member of the 110th Pz Gdr. Rgt. The head of the group, a gentleman by the name of Krupa, was the son of a Polish vet. His father and grandfather, to make a long story very short, were arrested and imprisoned by the Soviets and sent to Siberia. When the Germans invaded the USSR in June of ’41, the Soviets approached them and said they had a choice: either join the RKKA and fight the Germans, or they could go join the western Allies. Both men were pretty outspoken opponents of the USSR, ergo they’re arrest, and gave the authorities a big Polish FU. 😉 The Soviets handed each of them a blanket, opened the gate, and said be on your way. They walked all the way from Siberia to Persia where they joined the Brits.
    If you look at photographs of the Battle for Monte Cassino, you can see a combat engineer raising a Polish flag on top of the ruins. That was his dad.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great story! There is some controversy about the origins of this book, some say it is a fictionalized account or an amalgamation of multiple stories. It makes me wonder how many times similar journeys were attempted.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I have watched a movie, but not the one you mentioned – I am almost certain it was a European production, and from what I remember, the guy escaping was a German, not Polish. Anyway, you got my book worm intrigued and I am adding this one on to “to read” list.

    Liked by 2 people

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