Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle by Ingrid Betancourt

by |October 1, 2010

‘The bravest Mom in the World. This is the most incredible story of survival I have ever heard’ : Oprah

Ingrid Betancourt’s astonishing, powerful and deeply moving account of her six-year ordeal in the Colombian jungle as a hostage of the terrorist organisation FARC.

Ingrid Betancourt’s story – her exemplary courage, spirit and resilience – has captured the world’s imagination. A politician and presidential candidate celebrated for her determination to combat the corruption and climate of fear endemic in Colombia, in 2002 she was taken hostage by FARC, a terrorist guerrilla organisation. She was held captive in the depths of the jungle for six and a half years, constantly on the move and enduring gruelling conditions.

She was freed and reunited with her children and relatives in 2008. In this important and deeply moving book she tells in her own words the extraordinary drama of her capture and eventual rescue, and describes her fight to survive, mentally and physically. As she confronts the horror of what she went through, her story also goes beyond the specifics of her own confinement to offer an intensely intelligent, thoughtful and compassionate reflection on what it means to be human.

The most interesting part of Betancourt’s book is her relationship with her fellow captives, and the transformation of her own character. She learns that by being stubborn – she repeatedly tries to escape, despite the severe beatings and shackling afterwards – she keeps her identity.” Janine di Giovanni, The Observer.

Ingrid Betancourt spoke to ABC News about keeping her sense of dignity intact during the six years she was held as a hostage in the Colombian jungle – see here.(AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)

Writing the book was clearly a painful experience. Betancourt says it took 18 months. She would eat breakfast, then force herself to write from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., with no break. She started with a list of events that she didn’t want to forget, and her memory, she says, would often drift to unexpected places.

She didn’t, of course, have notes to rely on. “We were frisked all the time,” she says. “So I would write during the day, but then burn it.” She was given two notebooks, she said, in the entire six years. She had a pencil, but no sharpener, so she used a machete.

And so, she says, the book “is not chronological, it is emotional.” JOCELYN NOVECK www.huffingtonpost.com

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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