Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home

Miracle in The Andes - Nando Parrado, Vince Rause Even in the minds of the co-authors, this book is overshadowed by another, Piers Paul Read's Alive, which told this story of a plane crash and the months that followed in the Andes using interviews of the survivors. Nando Parrado, one of those survivors called Alive a "magnificent book" and said he had not tried to tell his own story for 30 years because he felt that book already covered "all the public needed to know." Vince Rause in his acknowledgments admitted wondering if another book was necessary since Alive "told that story in such exhaustive detail, and with such definitive scope and power." I read Alive decades ago--it was assigned reading in high school, and it made an indelible impression. There was little in this account that was a surprise to me, because I remembered so many of the details of that other book, and I'd certainly say if you're going to read only one account of this story, it should be that one--it's wonderfully and sensitively written. But Rouse said he thought another account would be worthwhile if Parrado was really willing to open up and take you back on that mountain and help you think what he thought and felt what he felt and take you along on the spiritual and physical journey he took, and in that I think it succeeds wonderfully. In fact, at certain points I was even moved close to tears, and that isn't easy. Alive emphasized the importance of their shared faith in the ordeal they underwent. There were 45 passengers and crew on that plane, and within a week there were only 27 survivors with all the food running out. To stay alive, those remaining had to resort to eating the bodies of the dead. To allow themselves to do that, some clung to their faith, even trying to see their taking nourishment from their dead as a form of communion. It was different for Parrado, who would take his survival into his own hands and with one companion make a near impossible climb over the mountain to go get help. Certainly, if there was one survivor of that ordeal whose story I'd want to know, it's his--because he didn't just wait to die. For him in the end the miracle of the Andes wasn't from God. He wrote that he found the "opposite of death is not mere living... courage or faith or human will." It's love. In the end, it was his love for the family that would be grieving for him that pushed him to endure. Parrado's account of the psychology of survival reminded me of nothing so much of accounts I've read of survival in concentration camps--which went well beyond the mere physical. This doesn't to my mind replace Alive, but it's a book well worth having together with it on your shelf.