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Jan 8, 2004

We Die Alone 

What kind of people turns me on? Survivors. Not the participants of that high rated reality show (silly, I'd say. Tribes, clans..woo hoo hoo.....*ROTFL*.....all in the name of pasting your face in the living rooms of other mindless millions). The real survivors are those people who made it back to life, after everything went against them, who had the closest shaves with death that we could never ever imagine and yet came back to live life the way the wanted to, although with much less glory and credit than Jesus after his resurruction. These are real flesh and blood people like you and me, ordinary citizens of mundane everyday human drama, yet they came alive from situations where death was the only option. How did that happen?

If you want to know more, read some of the books that celebrate such journeys. I really dig these books, it started when I was fourteen, with Alive:The Story of Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Reed, which narrates the story of an Urugyan rugby team, whose plane crashes into the remote Andes and the survivors even had to resort to eat the dead bodies of their teammates to stay alive. Yesterday I finished reading We Die Alone by David Howarth which describes a WW2 escape story made by a battered and frost bitten Norwegian soldier, Jan Baalsrud, through the Lyngen Alps, across German patrolled villages and into Sweden, which was neutral at the time. Some parts of his escape seem too incredible to be true, which the author says no one would have believed but for the presence of witnesses, who themselves corroborated the story and aided in his escape.

Jan Baalsrud, was part of a 12 member undercover Norwegian expat militia, who after a long ardorous journey from England to Norway, were supposed to form a counter resistance group against the Nazis, by organizing the villagers in the area. As luck would have it, as soon as the convoy of 12 men alighted on the Norwegian coast, they are ambushed by the German army and all except Jan were caught or murdered. Thus begins one man's epic saga of survival, which includes more than a month entombed in coma inside a snow tomb, hardly bigger than himself and operating his frost bitten toes himself with more precision than an experienced surgeon. All through his journey Jan relied heavily on the help rendered by his countrymen, without which he'd have never made out of it alive. I haven't said anything about the story as yet, if you like this kind of stuff, I'd say go for it.David Howarth, the author is a veteran writer of WW2 tales of escape and endurance, so that means there is more stuff out there for me to devour.