Faith Johnston takes the story of 10-11 Indian Airforce Officers who were captured in Pakistan during the 1971 war and narrates their experiences as Prisoners of War during the next 15+ months, including a failed escape attempt by three of these officers as well. They managed to get within four miles of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and hence the name of the book, Four Miles to Freedom.
To be very honest, left to me I probably wouldn’t have even noticed this book being released in bookstores, given the absolute lack of any comprehensive publicity around the same in social media. But then one of the book review sites I visit regularly was conducting this Random House Giveaway contests in the quiz format, and being the quizzing geek that I am I went ahead and participated, and wonder of wonders I managed to win this book that way.
And now that I have finished reading the book (in a couple of sittings, over one lax workday where there was not too much to be done at office) I don’t regret winning it. Although this is not classic literature material, the author does manage to narrate the experiences of the IAF PoWs in a reasonably interesting manner.
The main protagonist, so to speak, Dilip Parulkar who collaborated extensively with the author and was the primary source of information, strikes readers as a gregarious, fun loving, full of life and enthu chap of the day. He is the one who hatches the escape plan and despite one non-starter attempt due to various reasons, actually succeeds in escaping the second time around with two of his mates. And the trio actually makes good distance and almost reaches the Afghan border. What does them in was the fact that they relied on old British maps which were at least 25+ yrs old and they end up enquiring about a border town which had since been abandoned and was a ‘ghost town’ now.
For anybody who has seen movies like “The Great Escape” and likes the adventure genre of stories, this book is quite a breezy read. Based on the memories of the surviving PoWs, the author has done more than a commendable job of narrating their lives within the Pakistan Air Force facility in which they were housed for a majority of their tenure. At less than 200 pages, this book is not too taxing on the brain and is a quick light read. Nothing more, nothing less either.
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|Name||Four Miles To Freedom: Escape From A Pakistani POW Camp|
|Publisher||Random House India|
12 thoughts on “Four Miles to Freedom – Faith Johnston – Book Review”
WOW, not a book I normally would pick to read but you gave a brilliant review and write up ..and I think it sounds pretty good. How awful it would be to be a prisoner of war.
@Kathy, it was just about a decent book, that’s all, not quite as riveting a story as one would expect a PoW story to be. I guess it had to do with the fact that the book was just a repetition of facts without embellishing it with too much fiction.
I lived in the Middle East for nine years so might be drawn to a book on Pakistani POWs. I would be tempted to look this up in a library, and read it! Thanks so much for sharing this book with us!
@Amy, actually this is a book about Indian PoWs in a Pakistani Air Base, and not the other way round 🙂
Sounds interesting. I’m still on the fence about wanting to read it or not.
Nice review Jairam.
@pixie, read it only if you are really interested in PoW and escape type of stories
pow stories always interest me … liked the crisp and honest review …”just right” like the book may be
@Shiva, if you like PoW stories, then this book is for you 🙂
Nice review. Let’s see if I come across it in future. Not picking now for sure.. many to complete 🙂
@Diwakar, as I mentioned in the review, this probably will not fall in the category of a ‘must-read’ book by any stretch of imagination.
Brilliant review ! As you rightly said, this doesn’t seem to have come to my notice either, as there was hardly any publicity ….but the review makes me add it to my ‘to read’ list 🙂
( Ditto to your passion for quizzes. I’m a quizzer too and I love the rush of adrenaline that courses through the veins when we participate in quizzes….missing all that now 😦 I also happen to maintain the ‘GK diary’ or ‘Journal’ about which I remember reading on your blog. Thanks for writing about the Giveaway contests 🙂 Could you pls tell me which book review site that is ? )
@Sreeja, the giveaway is over, it was conducted for seven days sometime in December. Am unable to pull out the link right away but will surely let you know the next time something similar happens on any site.
Good to hear that you are also interested in quizzing as I am 😀