Slavomir Rawicz - The Long Walk

Rating 6.6

A well-deserved pass goes to the novel which is a good one.
Just please, don't tell me this is all a true story.

I know how the authenticity topic seems to be still controversial more than fifty years after the publication of this book, but come on! The Long Walk is clearly a clever work of fiction with titbits of reality popping up here and there just like bits of rancid yak butter float over the black tea Slav and his companions were served in Tibet. Of course assuming they get there with their own feet.

Praise the author for the plot and shame on him for claiming it a true story.
Some parts of The Long Walk are certainly authentic memories and nobody can deny the description of the tortures suffered by Rawicz in the Russian prisons are very accurate and compelling.

But then we have a strange and rather suspectful lack of details in many crucial following parts and some oddities (the role played by the camp commander's wife in the prisoner's escape, train of camels seen north of the Transiberian railways, 8 days without drinking while crossing the Gobi desert, an unexpected meeting with Mr and Mrs Yeti) are clearly fictional.

Just look at a map and see those 1500 miles of Chinese territory separating Mongolia from Tibet. How came that 6 people (plus one girl met on the road) walking in rags and with western features escaping from a Soviet gulag crossed this immense distance within China without ever being checked by anyone? And why Rawicz looks so reticent in talking about the Chinese villagers, habits and costumes then giving detailed descriptions of Mongolian headgear and Tibetan hospitality? This is what puzzles me here.

Still, this is an interesting book if you don't take it as a reliable account of what really happened to its author in one of the most remote and secluded corners of the Soviet Union.

I'm sorry, there is no Colin Farrell playing the "over-tattooed bad urka guy but with a golden heart" in the original book. But where Slavomir Rawciz outclassed Peter Weir is in starring two abominable snowmen rather than a single abominable actor.

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