Alive: Sixteen Men, Seventy-two Days, and Insurmountable Odds--the Classic Adventure of Survival in the Andes

Alive: Sixteen Men, Seventy-two Days, and Insurmountable Odds--the Classic Adventure of Survival in the Andes

by Piers Paul Read


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060778668
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/05/2005
Series: P.S. Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 482,142
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.01(d)
Lexile: 1160L (what's this?)

About the Author

Paul Piers Read is the author of numerous, critically acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, including A Patriot in Berlin (1996), Ablaze: The Story of the Heroes and Victims of Chernobyl (1993), On the Third Day (1989), and A Season in the West (1989). Mr. Read lives in London.

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Chapter One

Uruguay, one of the smallest countries on the South American continent, was founded on the eastern bank of the River Plate as a buffer state between the emerging giants of Brazil and Argentina. Geographically it was a pleasant land, with cattle running wild over immense pasture lands, and its population lived modestly either as merchants, doctors, and lawyers in the city of Montevideo or as proud and restless gauchos on the range.

The history of the Uruguayans in the nineteenth century is filled first with fierce battles for their independence against Argentina and Brazil and then with equally savage civil skirmishes between the Blanco and Colorado parties, the Conservatives from the interior and the Liberals from Montevideo. In 1904 the last Blanco uprising was defeated by the Colorado president, José Batlle y Ordóñez, who then established a secular and democratic state which for many decades was regarded as the most advanced and enlightened in South America.

The economy of this welfare state depended upon the pastoral and agricultural products which Uruguay exported to Europe, and while world prim for wool, beef, and hide remained high, Uruguay remained prosperous but in the course of the 1950s the value of these commodities went down and Uruguay went into a decline. There was unemployment and inflation, which in turn gave rise to social discontent. The civil service was overstuffed and underpaid; lawyers, architects, and engineers -- once the aristocracy of the nation-found themselves with little work and were paid too little for what there was. Many were compelled to choose secondary professions. Only those who owned landin the interior could be sure, of their prosperity. The rest worked for what they could get in an atmosphere Of economic stagnation and administrative corruptiom

As a result, there arose the first and most notable movement of urban guerrilla revolutionaries, the Tupamaros, whose ambition was to bring down the oligarchy which governed Uruguay through the Blanco and Colorado parties. For a while things went their way. They kidnaped and ransomed officials and diplomats and infiltrated the police force, which was set against them. The government called upon the army, which ruthlessly uprooted these urban guerrillas from their middle-class homes. The movement was suppressed; the Tupamaros were locked away.

In the early 1950s a group of Catholic parents, alarmed at the atheistic tendencies of the teachers in the state schools-and dissatisfied with the teaching of English by the Jesuits-invited the Irish Province of the Christian Brothers to start a school in Montevideo. This invitation was accepted, and five Irish lay brothers came out from Ireland by way of Buenos Aires to found the Stella Maris College -- a school for boys between the ages of nine and sixteen -- in the suburb of Carrasco. In May of 1955 classes were started in a house on the rambla which looked out under vast skies over the South Atlantic.

Though they spoke only halting Spanish, these Irish Brothers were well suited to the task they now sought to perform. Uruguay might be far from Ireland, but it too was a small country with an agricultural economy. The Uruguayans ate beef as the Irish ate potatoes, and life here, like life in Ireland, was led at a gentle pace.

Nor was the structure of that Part Of Uruguayan society to which they catered unfamiliar to the Brothers. The families who lived in the pleasant modern houses built amid the pine trees of Carrasco -- the most desirable suburb of Montevideo were mostly large, and there were strong bonds between parents and children which persisted through adolescence into maturity. The affection and respect which the boys felt for their parents was readily transferred to their teachers. This proved enough to maintain good behavior and, at the request of the parents of the their pupils, the Christian Brothers gave up their long-standing use of the disciplinary cane.

It was also customary in Uruguay for young men and women to live with their parents even after they had left School, and it was not until they got married that they left home. The Christian Brothers often asked themselves bow it was that, in a world where acrimony between generations Sometimes seemed to be the spirit Of the age, the citizens at Uruguay -- or at least the residents of Carrasco -- should be spared this conflict. It was as if the torrid vastness of Brazil to the north and the muddy waters of the River Plate to the south and west acted not only as natural barriers but as a protective shell in a cocoon of time.

Not even the Tupamaros troubled the Stella Maris College. The pupils, who came from Catholic families with conservative inclinations, had been sent by their parents to the Christian Brothers because of this order's traditional methods and old-fashioned objectives. Political idealism was more likely to flourish under the Jesuits, who trained the intellect, than under the Christian Brothers, whose aim was to build the character of their boys -- and the generous use of corporal Punishment, which they bad abandoned at the request of the parents, was not the only means to this end at their disposal. The other was rugby football.

The game played at the Stella Maris College was and still is the same as that played in Europe. Two teams of fifteen men face one another on the field, They wear no helmets or protective padding, and there are no substitutes. The objective of each team is to place the oval ball on the try line defended by the other side or to kick the ball over the bar and between the posts of theH-shaped goal. The ball can be kicked, carried, or passed back; the player who holds it can be tackled by an opponent who will throw himself through the air to bring him down -- grabbing him around the neck, the waist, or the legs. The only defense against a tackle is to dodge it...

Alive. Copyright © by Piers Paul Read. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Alive: Sixteen Men, Seventy-two Days, and Insurmountable Odds--the Classic Adventure of Survival in the Andes 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
co_coyote on LibraryThing 8 months ago
One of the classic stories of survival, Piers Paul Read writes about the October 1972 crash of an Uruguayan plane carrying an Uruguayan rugby team in the Andes. Of the 45 passengers on board, 16 survived for 10 weeks, forced to eat the passengers who died. Two survivors managed to walk out of the wilderness to get help. An incredible story of fortitude and survival instincts in the very worst of circumstances.
kaitekelly on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is an amazing tale of disaster and survival during unthinkable circumstances. A Urugayan plane carring a rugby team crashes high in the Andes mountains. The survivors of the initial plane crash are forced to eat the dead while awaiting rescue. Eventually two of the rugby team members manage to hike out of the mountains for help.
Jenners26 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book tells the story of a Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashes in the Andes Mountains. They are faced with a critical situation that results in them taking drastic steps to survive -- eating the bodies of their dead teammates. This is an agonizing account of what they went through and what people will do to survive. Although it might sound gruesome, you follow the survivors through their initial repulsion, denial and finally to acceptance that this is what is needed to survive. I read this book years ago but never forgot about it. It was also made into a movie starring Ethan Hawke. I liked the movie too but the book (as is almost always the case) was superior.
judithrs on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Alive. Piers Paul Read. 1974. This is the story of the survival of the Uruguayan rugby team whose plan crashed in the Andes. It is the most harrowing survival story I have every read. They survived by will, faith in God, and cannibalism. I would not suggest that anyone read it. I heard an interview with the author in which he stressed the faith of the survivors and decided that I would read it. The author did a remarkable job telling the story in a matter of fact style that communicated the horror in a much more realistic way than a lurid account ever could.
analyst on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book is a very detailed and graphic account of the experiences of a group of young Uruguayan rugby players and their fellow travelers whose plane crashed in the South American Andes mountains. Sixteen eventual survivors of a passenger list of 45 explain how they managed to survive over 71 days in an environment with little food and minimum of suitable clothing.
Katie_H on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Most know the story of "Alive," a true account of astonishing survival. In 1972, a plane carrying a rugby team from Uruguay crashed in the Andes mountains. Of 45 passengers, only 16 survived the 70 days on the mountain. Their food supply quickly depleted, and rather than starve to death, they made the grisly decision to eat the bodies of their dead companions. This cannibalism has been hyped extensively as an act of bravery, but the enormous faith that they placed in God and man, enabling them to withstand stunning hardship, was even more inspiring. In addition to starvation, they experienced horrific weather conditions, an avalanche, injuries, and dispair, and incredibly, their endurance and will to live triumphed. The book could have used some editing; there was a lot of repetition, and it would have been helpful if the author had added a chart to help keep track of the many characters. 5 stars for the epic experience, 3 for the novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing! I love how it stays to the true story with no elaboration and yet is so compelling all on its own!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Alive, is a great complying story about the group of Old Christians rugby team, who crashed in the Andes Mountains in a Uruguayan Air Force plane, on their way to Chile. After the wreck of the plane, half of the forty-five had survived, after the next 2 weeks only 16 of them where left. The un-thinkable happened when they ran out of food in the plane, cannibalism. The survivors got tired of just waiting around for something to happen, so they sent Canessa and Parrado two of the strongest out to look for help. Finally after six days they found a village, not soon after that, helicopters were sent to find the other fourteen survivors. Seventy-two days in blizzard cold weather, avalanches, and starvation. the boys where finally safe. This book is an excited journey that takes you through what happens. It seems like you are there with them in their need of help. It's a good experience, shows you how much we take for granted in our daily lives. This book was great, it took awhile to get into, the first 30 or so pages are very dull. People should read this book because; it's thrilling, shocking moments, the friendship that out shown. The book draws you in, the last one hundred pages you won't be able to put the book down, that's how exciting it is! I do recommend reading this book, it's an adventure and survival book for you people who like those kind of books! It teaches you to never give up on your dreams! It's a great book! I hope you will enjoy it as much as it did!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Once I finally got into the book, this was a good story of survival. The men and women who crashed in the Andes had to overcome horrible situations -- injuries from the crash, an avalanche, and then the lack of food. What they did to survive was admirable, even if some may judge them harshly over their decision to eat the flesh of their dead friends.

That being said, though, the story moves so slowly, and the author's writing style is so staid, that it took me forever to actually feel like I was reading something worthwhile.

A good story, but it's a journey to plod through it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It has been many many years sence I've read this book, but I will never forget it, as it is the one and only book that has ever made me burst out balling! It broke my heart. I think I shall read it again.....Linda in California