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Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Homeby Nando Parrado and Vince Rause
Synopses & Reviews
In the first hours there was nothing, no fear or sadness, just a black and perfect silence.
Nando Parrado was unconscious for three days before he woke to discover that the plane carrying his rugby team, as well as their family members and supporters, to an exhibition game in Chile had crashed somewhere deep in the Andes. He soon learned that many were dead or dying — among them his own mother and sister. Those who remained were stranded on a lifeless glacier at nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, with no supplies and no means of summoning help. They struggled to endure freezing temperatures, deadly avalanches, and then the devastating news that the search for them had been called off.
As time passed and Nando's thoughts turned increasingly to his father, who he knew must be consumed with grief, Nando resolved that he must get home or die trying. He would challenge the Andes, even though he was certain the effort would kill him, telling himself that even if he failed he would die that much closer to his father. It was a desperate decision, but it was also his only chance. So Nando, an ordinary young man with no disposition for leadership or heroism, led an expedition up the treacherous slopes of a snow-capped mountain and across forty-five miles of frozen wilderness in an attempt to find help.
Thirty years after the disaster, Nando tells his story with remarkable candor and depth of feeling. Miracle in the Andes — a first-person account of the crash and its aftermath — is more than a riveting tale of true-life adventure: it is a revealing look at life at the edge of death and a meditation on the limitless redemptive power of love.
"In October 1972, a plane carrying an Uruguayan rugby team crashed in the Andes. Not immediately rescued, the survivors turned to cannibalism to survive and after 72 days were saved. Rugby team member Parrado has written a beautiful story of friendship, tragedy and perseverance. High in the Andes, with a fractured skull, eating the flesh of his teammates and friends, Parrado calmly ponders the cruelties of fate, the power of the natural world and the possibility of continued existence. 'I would live from moment to moment and from breath to breath, until I had used up all the life I had.' Parrado, who for the past 10 years has been giving inspirational talks based on his experiences, lost his mother and sister in the crash. Struggling to stay alive, his guide becomes his beloved father: 'each [stride] brought me closer to my father...each step I took was a step stolen back from death.' More than a companion to the 1970s bestselling chronicle of the disaster, Alive, this is a fresh, gripping page-turner that will satisfy adventure readers, and a complex reflection on camaraderie, family and love. Photos. First serial in Outside." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Once in a very long time, a book arrives that changes the way I see the world and the people within it. When I first saw the cover of Nando Parrado's 'Miracle in the Andes' — the image of a wrecked airplane on a mountainside — I thought, 'I know this story.' After all, it had wrenched my emotions 20 years ago under the title 'Alive,' by Piers Paul Read. And I wasn't sure that I had the... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) stamina to read the tale all over again. While I worked up my nerve, my wife snatched the book and started reading it. Every night for a week, she sobbed herself to sleep. By the time I was ready to begin, the book looked as if it had been swept away in a flood. My wife passed it over to my side of the bed, along with a half-empty box of Kleenex. 'You'll need this,' she said. The story begins when a small plane filled with young rugby players takes off from the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, en route to a match in Santiago, Chile. The date: Friday the 13th of October, 1972. Bad weather cloaked the Andes, but the brash young members of the Old Christians Rugby Club wouldn't hear of turning back. Dodging pockets of extreme turbulence, the pilots aimed the plane at the heart of the cordillera, hoping to guide it through the narrow Planchon Pass. Inside, the team and a handful of their supporters were in high spirits — swapping seats, playing cards, throwing a rugby ball around. Outside, nothing but thick fog, crags and sheer mountain walls almost within arm's reach. Then 'there was a terrible howl of metal grinding. Suddenly I saw open sky above me. ... I was torn from my seat with incredible force and hurled forward into complete darkness and silence.' Three days later, Nando Parrado woke from a coma, a ball of snow held up to his mouth by a fellow survivor. His skull was fractured, but he was alive. His little sister, who had been on the flight, was barely alive; his mother was dead. Forty-five passengers and crew had been aboard the aircraft. Of these, 32 survived the impact, including one of the pilots. He was trapped and so badly injured that he begged for the revolver he kept in his flight bag. In the first days, Parrado nursed his sister and took stock of the situation. The odds of survival were almost nil. They were stuck at 12,000 feet, dressed in short-sleeved summer shirts, many of them with appalling wounds. Marcelo Perez, the captain of the team, had taken charge in the most heroic way. He hunted the baggage for food, had the dead pulled out and buried, and organized the building of a snow wall to plug the end of the fuselage. Without this insulation, no one would have lived through the first night. But most of all, he coaxed the living to keep faith. With no proper supplies, the wounded began to drop off one at a time. Parrado's sister died in his arms, while he himself had to wait for nature to repair 'the shattered fragments' of his skull. The living had nothing to drink except a few daily drops of snow melted by the sun. And then there was the matter of food. In one of the most moving passages, Parrado explains how he and his companions faced the grim reality of survival: If they did not eat the raw flesh of their dead comrades, they themselves would die. 'I knew those bodies represented our only chance of survival,' he writes. Soon after, a frail transistor radio coaxed into life spewed out the dreadful truth: that the search to save them had been called off. Morale plummeted. The only hope of survival was to send a team for help. Parrado and three others volunteered to go — to scale the sky-scraping peaks standing between them and civilization. But before they could leave, an avalanche in the night smothered eight more members, including their gallant captain, Perez, and temporarily trapped the rest of them in the wreck. Finally, packing the warmest clothes and a supply of human meat as food, Parrado and his 'expeditionaries' set off over the mountains in search of salvation. Eventually, after 10 days of indescribable hardship and a total of more than 70 days in the Andes, he and one of his companions spotted a peasant on the far bank of a roaring river. Parrado scribbled a note, tied it to a stone and threw it across. It began: 'I come from a plane that fell into the mountains.' 'Miracle in the Andes' tells much the same story as is recounted in 'Alive,' published more than 30 years ago. The difference is that this book contains a level of emotion only a firsthand account can provide. Parrado's narrative paints the terrible tale in vivid colors for the first time. It would be hard to find another book written with such engaging sensitivity and, at the same time, so charged with sheer humanity. Parrado's extraordinary quality is to remind those of us living within the firm safety net of society that we are all capable of pushing ourselves to the limit. But more important, it teaches us not to waste a single moment, or a single breath. Tahir Shah reviews frequently for The Washington Post Book World." Reviewed by Tahir Shah, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"Intense memoir of epic survival....The author claims to not have flashbacks, but his candid, vivid memories bring this nearly incredible story to life once again." Kirkus Reviews
"[A]n amazing story of bravery and courage." Booklist
"More introspective than Piers Paul Read's journalistic account, Alive...Parrado presents both the jaw-dropping realities of the 16 survivors' story and the life-altering lessons he learned from the experience." Library Journal
"Miracle in the Andes is an astonishing account of an unimaginable ordeal. In straightforward, staggeringly honest prose, Nando Parrado tells us what it took — and what it actually felt like — to survive high in the Andes for 72 days after having been given up for dead. If you pick this book up, you will not be able to put it down." Jon Krakauer, author of Under the Banner of Heaven, Into Thin Air, and Into the Wild
"Given up for dead after an air crash in the Andes in 1972, Nando Parrado not only survived but showed the strength and determination that saved his own life and that of his fifteen friends. Now he gives his own account of his ordeal — enthralling, enlightening, modest, and moving. An impressive testimony to what love can achieve." Piers Paul Read, author of Alive
"Unlike the cloud that obscured the mountainside, there is no haze enshrouding the meaning of life for Nando Parrado. It was in the love for his father that Nando found the motivation to survive for over two months on a Chilean glacier. As he makes his unbelievable traverse of the Andes, Nando also demonstrates the depth of his courage, faith, and perseverance that help him later transform his losses into a source of inspiration for others. Connecting our struggles to his, we readers can use Nando as our beacon and see that there is a way out of our 'own personal Andes.'" Aron Ralston, author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place
"Nando Parrado's haunting experience in the Andes — grippingly, honestly, and insightfully told — ranks with the most dramatic survival stories of the last two centuries." Peter Stark, author of Last Breath: The Limits of Adventure
"Miracle in the Andes is an extraordinary book. Everybody's philosophical hypotheticals were Nando Parrado's real life experiences. Would I survive an aircrash? Could I eat human flesh? Would a horrific and life-threatening event affect my religious beliefs? In the end, this account benefits enormously from the maturity that time allows. It is a beautifully written and moving story." Peter Hillary, author of In the Ghost Country: A Lifetime Spent on the Edge
"Nando Parrado gives a compelling account of his and his teammates' survival....Parrado does an admirable job of filling in the gaps in Read's earlier account, being both inspirational and spiritual without being too saccharine." Denver Post
The harrowing personal story of the hero of the international bestseller "Alive" gives a day-by-day account of what happened during the 1972 Andes plane crash and its aftermath and shows how Parrado coped with the stresses; how he kept from giving up; and where he found strength to climb out alive.
About the Author
Nando Parrado lives in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Vince Rause lives in Pittsburgh.
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