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|