By Ingrid Betancourt
Penguin. Nonfiction. 528 pgs.
Imagine – you are chained by the neck to a post in the middle of the Amazon jungle, subject to the whims of your captors for every need. Torrential rains fall, monkeys howl overhead, snakes, trapdoor spiders, ants and giant bees torment you. When your captors are on the run you are forced to march and scramble with them through the jungle for days on end to a new camp, a new place of loss and suffering. You contract malaria and hepatitis; you dream of escape and manage it three times, only to be recaptured.
This was Ingrid Betancourt’s life for six and a half years after she was captured by rebel members of FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia) while campaigning for the Presidency of Colombia in 2002. Though some readers may find the account of her suffering lengthy, Betancourt seems to have needed to tell it all, work through it all, find some healing of her trauma through the telling. Her writing is self-aware, articulate and descriptive. Though there is some controversy concerning her capture (some critics say she shouldn’t have traveled in a dangerous area) and her behavior in captivity (some fellow prisoners say she was demanding and difficult and caused additional hardship for her companions) there is no doubt that she suffered greatly and has shared a gripping story. SH