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Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle
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Product Description

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 fifty 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. Describing backbreaking starvation marches and forced isolation, the authors chronicle their confrontations and interactions with the FARC guerrilla soldiers—a motley crew of brainwashed, idealistic teenagers and seasoned vet-erans who've been around long enough to realize that the only way out of the FARC is in a body bag.

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 confinement. This brotherhood enabled them to persevere through the worst that the FARC threw at them while always reminding them of their ultimate goal: freedom.

A harrowing account of one of the longest civilian hostage crises in United States history, Out of Captivity is a remarkable and compelling exploration of how far three Americans were willing to go as they fought to stay alive for themselves, their families, and one another.

Customer Reviews:

  • Excellent book!
    This is an excellent book. An exciting story that is hard to put down once you start reading. I gave it four stars because of the many grammatical errors and typos all over the place, in English and Spanish words. Otherwise this is a good book well worth your time....more info
  • Captivating Book
    This book is a true story account. A must read...it is amazing that they made it home....more info
  • A MUST READ !!!
    I have read numerous books on P.O.W.'s, which includes Vietnam, Korean and WWII. All of the books that I have read were very good and informative.
    I , however, being in my mid -40's, really haven't heard or read of any P.O.W. situations that have taken place during my adult years.
    UNTIL this book came along! It is by far the most interesting piece I have read concerning captured Americans, two of which were Marine and Air Force veterans.
    It having occured in the past couple of years makes it even more remarkable in the since that one can relate far more to their plight, than if it had taken place years ago.
    The three men suffered together and stood together throughout the whole ordeal. Talk about brotherhood and teamwork! These guys takes you through their suffering and painful thoughts and feelings of their loved ones back home. It was a bittersweet reunion in one way or another for all of them when they finally returned home.
    This book reveals the best and worst in men (and women, also) in the worst of conditions.
    You won't put this book down once you begin reading it.
    I won't be surprised if a mvie comes out in the near future!
    BUY IT, YOU WON'T REGRET IT!...more info
  • Not exactly a "Chick" book.
    Excellent read. Very well written, very interesting. Read entire book in two nights........ Not exactly a "Chick" book, but this chick loved it. What these three men endured, and to think people are still being held in this jungle, by two legged animals....more info
  • Great Book!!
    This is a compelling read. It is hard to imagine anyone going through an ordeal such as this. These men deserve any accolades that come to them. The book was hard to put down and I would recommend it to anyone....more info
  • Disappointing and petty
    These men went through hell, an experience none of us would wish on our worst enemy. Yet this book is beneath them.

    The organization of it is clunky, as can be expected from a book written by three people with the help of a freelance writer. The true story of what these men endured, emotionally and physically, is lost in the mundane details that consume the majority of the book, and in the pettiness that is displayed specifically in the attacks on Ms. Betancourt.

    Mr. Stansell simply hates this woman, and his remarks about her are mean, sexist, and almost completely inconsequential to the story he really has to tell. The claims made about her are lacking in credibility, and were obviously included for their sensationalistic appeal.

    It is clear that this book is riding on Ms. Betancourt's name, and the inclusion of petty, negative details is nothing more than a mean stunt designed to sell the book at an innocent woman's expense. Let us not forget this is a woman who was kidnapped and held prisoner in the jungle for six years. For Mr. Stansell to drag her through the mud simply because he does not like her, in order to sell his book, is pathetic and undignified....more info
  • Understanding Freedom
    In Out of Captivity, Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Tom Howes detail what it is like enduring 1.967 tortuous days at the hands of FARC's Marxist terrorists. Their account strips away any notion that FARC is nothing more than a bunch of murderers, tortures, hostage takers and drug traffickers, masquerading as Communist liberation fighters. The book provides insight into what kept these men's hopes alive under the most unimaginable conditions. When enjoyment in life boils down to a warm, clean shower, a soft mattress, and being able to go where you want to, when you want to, the reader will come away with a new appreciation for what they have, and what is important in life. ...more info
  • An amazing story from amazing men.
    This is an amazing book for all to read about an area of the world and a terrorist group that doesn't see all that much press these days. These brave men paint a very real picture of their five and a half years with a group that has menaced the country of Colombia for all too many years. Read it...do it now....more info
  • Surviving . . . One Day at a Time
    Out of Captivity is a remarkable first-person account of living through something worse than a horrible nightmare. Yet the story is told with care, concern, and humanity in a way that will move your heart.

    Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Tom Howes were on a routine surveillance mission to locate drug crops for a civilian contractor when their single-engine plane lost power over the mountains of Colombia in South America. A few seconds later, they crash landed in the worst possible place . . . near a group of FARC rebels who lived off "taxes" paid by drug cartels. In a few moments, they were captives . . . and hostages.

    Bonded by their harsh treatment and dangerous circumstances, the three men did their best to survive and to help other hostages, many of whom they met over the next five and a half years before they were rescued. In many cases, fellow hostages were as unsettling and dangerous to them as the hostage takers were. They lived in fear that they would be executed during a rescue mission. Malnourished, putting up with very poor living conditions, carrying heavy loads and sometimes with chains sometimes around their necks, they kept going somehow. Under the primitive conditions, death and disease were constant threats as they scrambled to new hiding places under the jungle's canopy.

    Occasional access to radios comprised their main means of knowing what was going on with their families and the efforts to free them. Hopes would soar . . . only to be almost instantly dashed. As bad as the physical conditions were, the psychological conditions were even worse. The men were also haunted by realizing that they had serious family responsibilities that they weren't meeting. Guilt alternated with fear to plague their days and nights.

    But they emerged as better men than when they entered the Colombian jungle. Their hardships were like a refining fire that cleansed them of much that they came to see as undesirable about themselves. They seldom faltered in their commitment to one another and to doing the right thing.

    We can only read this book and wonder if we would have survived . . . or done nearly as well. I don't think so in my case. My hat is off to these three men and to the inner strength they exhibited.

    We should all pray for the release of the remaining hostages that are being held by the FARC.

    The book is told in alternating first person by each of them men, picking up in the story line where the last one left off. That makes the story more intense and interesting.

    I was particularly impressed by their insights into the psychology of their captors, other hostages, and themselves. They may not have degrees in psychology, but I think they know more than the equivalent of a doctorate in hostage-captor fears, attitudes, behaviors, and emotions. You'll be fascinated with what they have to share . . . especially how some of the captors were in more dangerous and depressed circumstances than the hostages. ...more info
  • Attitude and Mental toughness
    Unbelievable read. My hat is off to these three gentlemen who under the worst of circumstances, continued to represent our country and our values to the best of their ability. The bond they share cannot be explained and cannot be understood by anyone. I was deployed to Colombia 11 months after they were taken hostage and I can tell you that our first priority was to always seek information on the whereabouts of these brave men. I was elated when I heard they were rescued and I am grateful for the opportunity to read about their hardship and triumph. Their situation makes you re-evaluate your priorities and puts your hardships into perspective. Gentlemen, thank you for writing this book and for your sacrifice as you representated this great nation honorably. Que Dios te bendiga.

    ...more info
  • Derogatory
    I waste my money and most important my time, I'm not used to this kind of books but I gave it a try just to know this side of the story and I think is full of resentment and harsh comments, like Colombian Speaks "campesino Spanish" and more derogatory comments; which doesn't make justice to the rest of good people who have to live in that part of the planet....more info
  • Surviving Terror
    Excellent....! It is a book well written, thanks to Mr. Gary Brozec.
    The story of three Americans held captive by rebels in Colombia. But they are no heroes here, simply three paid adventurers who looking for excitement fell captive and did what they had to do.... Survive...! And that was not easy....! Mr. Brozec captures very well their distressing personalities.
    Their melancholic dreams in the jungle are nothing but an expression of their frustrations. The experiences of their miserable existence are well written. Their return to "society" seems to be a new trivial adventure.... This time on motorcycles....!
    Another important protagonist is Ms. Ingrid Betancourt an aspiring political figure in Colombia who is portrayed as an egotistical, insensitive, vile, disrespectful woman who approaches a treacherous conduct and is nothing but the product of her narcissistic inattentive society.
    Ms. Clara Rojas has a baby in the middle of the jungle; "Rogelio", a terrorist of some importance seems to be the father, but nobody wants to have the child of a terrorist, this should be kept secret. Ingrid will never forgive her for that. Clara's cesarean section is performed not by any qualified, but by the most sadistic "volunteer" of the terrorists. The fracture of the arm of the newborn and permanent damage to the nerves of his arm was also an act of plain sadism.
    Even during their captivity the disturbing ranking of their social stratus is maintained by the Colombians, Ms. Betancourt, "Lucho", Gloria Polanco, "Jorge", Clara, Consuelo and Orlando in that order. Seem that in Colombia to have some foreign blood give special privileges.... Not for the adventurers from America, they simply did not belong anywhere.
    The various sequential emotional affairs of Ms. Betancourt with "Lucho", or with "William", or with one of the Americans are exposed as manifestations of her disturbing emotional vulnerability and lack of respect for others. The emotional attachments of Ms. Polanco with Mr. Guerchen are also an expression of their susceptibility.
    The behavior of the military personnel still captive is related in a respectful manner, like the real brave and disciplined men they are.... They are real heroes....!
    Excellent book....! Thanks to Mr. Brozec....!
    ...more info
  • something missing
    easy read but unable to connect to the fear and isolation of these men. I dare not critize their ordeal but felt a bit too long to keep me engaged. Amazing strength of characters still something missing in retelling the story. Maybe I was wanting more anger directed at the FARC captors! ...more info
  • Amazing story about the human spirit
    To think that less than one year ago these three men were still being held captive sends chills down my spine... and helps me understand the matter of fact voice the book was written in. Out of Captivity made me excited about how strong the human spirit is, and reminded me how important relationships are with those who are very close, and those who are very far away.

    Since finishing this book I've taken some time to learn more about the social and political climate of Columbia, something I knew very little about before. Everyone involved with this book should be proud if this story helps increase education about the situation in Columbia, and awareness to those still in captivity.

    I would love to know if Marc, Keith and Tom ever made it on their freedom ride. ...more info
  • Incredible
    HI,

    I loved that book and the fact that it was true made it even more incredible. I gave it to my sister who read it and thought it was fantastic. God bless those men.

    Frances H. Consorti...more info
  • Excellent reading. Will keep you up all night
    This is an amazing story of survival. I just started reading it and the details described are so vivid, that sometimes I feel I'm there. I'd recommend this book to anybody that is interested in real stories about the problems going on in Southamerica and other countries w/guerillas....more info
  • A sincere, na?ve account
    This is one of the most detailed accounts of kidnapped lives in the jungle. Even if it is perhaps their naivet¨¦ that lead all three authors to do so, it provides exhaustive information of what nobody should ever undergo. Such descriptions help us leave aside any discomfort due to writing in both English and some Spanish that is included, and remind us that the authors are not writers. In the end, and all through the book I considered the three authors as strong and mature men who not only came out alive but who used this appalling experience to be better human beings, and this not always happens....more info
  • Out of Captivity
    Excellent book. Lets the reader know how really awful it is to be held hostage in the Colombian jungle. Gives the reader an insite into the thinking of the three hostages, and they also were candid about their failings....more info
  • great book
    great book. exposes the real personality trends of dirty politicians and noble colombian military personel...more info
  • From beginning to finish....
    Absolutely loved their book. I couldn't wait for it to come out and was very excited when I recieved it in the mail. Definite page turner. There wasnt a "boring" part of the book. From the very first chapter to the very end...I even wanted to know more about their current lives when I was finished! These men survived in one of the harshest environments...incredible!...more info
  • Powerful and Stunning
    From Loren Keim, the author of How to Sell Your Home in Any Market - An absolutely stunning and powerful read that will keep you glued to your chair with this book.

    An inspirational story of three Americans held captive by a Columbian Terrorist Organization for five and a half years, this is one true story that every American should take the time to read.

    Starting with a plane crash in the mountain, these men are fired on by guerillas, marched starving through the jungle for more than a month, chained, held captive and so much more.

    I cannot recommend this book strongly enough....more info
  • One of the BEST true stories.
    This book is one of the best true stories I have ever read. You find yourself feeling the highs and the lows with each of the character. I highly recommend this book. ...more info