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Captive: 2,147 Days of Terror in the Colombian Jungle [NOOK Book]


On a fateful day in February 2002, campaign manager Clara Rojas accompanied longtime friend and presidential hopeful Ingrid Betancourt into an area controlled by the powerful leftist guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Armed with machine guns and grenades, the FARC took them hostage and kept them in the jungle for the next six years.


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Captive: 2,147 Days of Terror in the Colombian Jungle

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On a fateful day in February 2002, campaign manager Clara Rojas accompanied longtime friend and presidential hopeful Ingrid Betancourt into an area controlled by the powerful leftist guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Armed with machine guns and grenades, the FARC took them hostage and kept them in the jungle for the next six years.


After more than two years of captivity deep in the Colombian jungle, surrounded by jaguars, snakes, and tarantulas, miles from any town or hospital, Clara Rojas prepared to give birth in a muddy tent surrounded by heavily armed guerrillas. Her captors promised that a doctor would be brought to the camp to help her. But when Rojas went into labor and began to suffer complications, the only person on hand was a guerrilla wielding a kitchen knife. The guerrillas drugged Rojas with anesthetic while one of them slit open her abdomen. Her son, Emmanuel, was born by amateur cesarean section in April 2004. His survival was miraculous, but her joy was soon cut short when the FARC took him from her when he was only eight months old. For the next three years, Clara was given no information about him, but her desire to one day see him again kept her alive. In early 2008, Clara was finally liberated and reunited with her son—to whom this book is dedicated.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Another perspective on the most famous hostage case in Colombia's troubled recent history. Rojas, a lawyer and former legislator, was captured by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2002 with her friend, presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. The author would have been all but overshadowed by her world-famous co-captive-whose saintly reputation was sullied by the 2009 book Out of Captivity, written by three Americans held hostage in the same camp-had it not been for the fact that two years into her captivity, she became pregnant and delivered a baby boy via crude field-medicine techniques. Except for her capture and release and a couple of escapes that she and Betancourt attempted early on, the birth merits the majority of Rojas's attention. Though she maintains the mystery of her son Emmanuel's paternity, she writes that the pregnancy caused friction between her and her fellow hostages. She and Betancourt had fallen out after the escape attempts, but unlike the authors of the previous book, Rojas doesn't dwell on her friend's flaws. Rojas claims that she never sympathized with the guerrillas and holds righteous anger toward them for robbing her of six years of her life and separating her from Emmanuel not long after his birth, but the rebels' decency toward her, particularly during her pregnancy, shines through in contrast to the pettiness of her co-captives. Undoubtedly, the author's courage in withstanding her ordeal marks her as an unusual person with an extraordinary story to tell. Unfortunately, the narrative doesn't live up to the subject. Rojas says she wrote the book to put this unpleasant experience behind her and move on. In fact, she seems to have alreadybeen in the process of emotionally escaping from it as she wrote about it, resulting in a quick, light-handed sketch composed from a cautious distance. A disappointingly superficial, unrevealing adventure memoir.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439176092
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 5/25/2010
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,372,330
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Clara Rojas is a lawyer and was the campaign director of Ingrid Betancourt’s presidential campaign when they were kidnapped by the FARC in 2002. She gave birth to her son Emmanuel during her captivity but he was taken from her when he was only eight months old. After six years of captivity she was finally liberated. Clara and her son currently live in Bogotá, Colombia.


Adriana V. López is the founding editor of Críticas, Publishers Weekly's sister magazine devoted to the Spanish-language publishing world. She is the co-editor of Barcelona Noir, a short story collection for Akashic Books, as well as the editor of Fifteen Candles: 15 Tales of Taffeta, Hairspray, Drunk Uncles and Other Quinceañera Stories (HarperCollins, 2007). Lopez's work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post, among other publications and book anthologies. Her essays and fiction have appeared in Juicy Mangoes (Simon & Schuster, 2007), Border-Line Personalities: A New Generation of Latinas Dish on Sex, Sass & Cultural Shifting (HarperCollins, 2004), and Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism (Seal Press, 2002). López is a member of PEN America and currently divides her time between New York and Madrid.
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Read an Excerpt


Dispatched from Freedom

JULY 22, 2008

It’s been almost six months now that I have been free, and it still feels like it’s all a dream. Early each morning, I awake to the sound of birds chirping all around me. I live in BogotÁ’s savanna, where the air is crisp and I can take in the mountain scenery from my window. There isn’t a morning that goes by that I don’t thank God I’m still alive. It’s the first thing I do upon opening my eyes. Yes, to thank the blessing that’s reunited me with my mother, with my son, Emmanuel, with my family and friends, and with all those who I love most. I am grateful to finally be able to leave it all behind. The kidnapping, the captivity—that’s all in the past. Now that my life is back to normal, with the affection and company of my loved ones, it’s strange to recall that not so long ago, when I was rotting away in the jungle, I could have felt so alone. So utterly forgotten.

Many have asked if I’ve changed since the kidnapping; if I’m still the same Clara that I always was. I tell them yes, that for the most part, I’m still the same person—but with a scar on my stomach now, and a profound mark made on the way I think and feel about things, which I can only hope will fade with time. Sometimes I’m assaulted by feelings of sadness, but, luckily, I have Emmanuel at my side for comfort. As is expected, I would have preferred that the Colombian guerrilla organization known as the FARC hadn’t robbed me of six years of my life. But I’m alive and here to tell the tale. Each person will recount what the war was like from his or her perspective. I’m just another soldier. And this is my story.

These words come from the depths of my heart, and I write this for many reasons. First, I’ve always dreamed of writing a book. I’ve written various academic and professional works, but this is a chance to bare my soul in the world of letters, a field that I’ve always adored. I’m also inspired to write a memoir so that it remains for my son and those of his generation. Because I long to be part of a country that prioritizes reconciliation, forgiveness, tolerance, growth, and peace. Lastly, I want to share my experience with readers and have them understand the difficulties I suffered and overcame, so that perhaps while reading this book, a seed of hope and longing will be planted in their hearts.

© 2009 PLON

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Table of Contents

1. Dispatched from Freedom 1

2. My Mother 3

3. The Day Before the Kidnapping 7

4. The Day 15

5. The Day After 33

6. The Jungle 39

7. Night 49

8. The Guerrillas 53

9. A Sense of Decency 61

10. Friendship 63

11. Escape 67

12. The Unraveling of a Friendship 79

13. Solitude 83

14. Fasting 89

15. Faith 93

16. Doubt and Anxiety 101

17. Pastimes 115

18. Motherhood 123

19. Emmanuel 135

20. With a Baby in the Camp 153

21. The Trek 163

22. Christmas 173

23. The Long Separation 177

24. Waiting 183

25. Murmurs of Freedom 191

26. On the Road to Freedom 199

27. Operation Emmanuel 209

28. The Reunion 221

29. Readaptation 233

30. Time Lost 237

31. Forgiveness 239

32. A New Tomorrow 241

Acknowledgments 243

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    I couldn't put this book down Clara experience while I read I ca

    I couldn't put this book down Clara experience while I read I can totally imagine walking thru that jungle. Now my 11year old wants to read this book. I'm sharing it with my sister to read. It's an eye opener and thank God she was freed and rejoined with her son. AWESOME READ.

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  • Posted January 24, 2011

    Don't bother - Read 'Even Silence Has an End' instead..

    CAPTIVE is definitely NOT captivating. I almost hate to say this, out of respect for the author's tremendous ordeal only, but this book is poorly written. Period.

    The story jumps around, tends to be sort of generic and glosses over a lot of things, and she doesn't even give (most) her fellow hostages the courteousy of NAMING them. Furthermore, I find it ironic that her fellow hostage Ingrid Betancourt was accused (in the media) of trying to make the situation all about herself and treated her poorly, when I found CAPTIVE to be written in a pretentious "I took the high-road' tone.

    While 2 people who experience the same ordeal will always interpret and react to it differently, I absolutely started this book with the idea that I would be sympathetic to Clara and see Ingrid for the snoot she was accused of being. However, when I turned the last page of the book I was (1) glad it was over (2) disappointed in the story telling and (3) completely UNsympathetic. She intimates multiple times that her response to a situation/confrontation was 'misinterpreted', but how could one hostage in a group of many not establish a meaningful relationship with anyONE of her fellow hostages???

    'Even Silence Has an End' is far and away a more well written and (seemingly) honest account of life in the jungle as a hostage. It truly picks you up off your couch, throws you down in the middle of the jungle, and has you picturing yourself using the chontos (retch) and tromping through jungle for days on end...It is a haunting and gritty account that will leave you contemplating days later the horrors of living in the jungle under armed guard..... how/if you could survive... would you fight back and refuse to become a number? would you be brave enough to try and escape??

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2010

    A confusing read. Kept trying to connect the dots, trying to understand where her thoughts were coming from. Jumps around. Leaves you with questions. waste of money.

    Clara discribes the hostage experiance like it was 6 years camping trip, with phrases like "my little space in the jungle". "I never could eat all my food so I gave it to..."I'll hold fond memories'She rarely discribes by example of situations, just relays her feeling without letting the reader understand or connect with her. Her comments about her captors are often human kindness and her veiw on the other hostages being insensitive; such as; "the captures were upset with us.." "the hostages spoke angerliy to the captures..."often leaves you wondering who side is this book really on. the clincher is "why bring a child into jungle captivity?" She never tells, but you realize it is selfish attempt to be released that backfires.

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    Posted July 22, 2011

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    Posted December 26, 2011

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    Posted January 7, 2011

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