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As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me by Josef M. Bauer

I admit, it sometimes takes me a while to catch up with things. This book is one of these cases. The book was originally published in German “So weit die Füße tragen” in 1955. “As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me” has seen international success ever since. It was since been released as a film in 2001 and was the basis for an award-winning German entry at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. The DVD was released in 2011. The book, by Josef M Bauer, has also been translated into fifteen languages and sold more than 12 million copies. So you might have thought I had got wind of it somehow. However, it passed me by until I noticed it in the non-fiction section of my local library.

It tracks the destiny of German soldier Clemens Forrell who, in the aftermath of World War II, was sentenced to twenty-five years of forced labour in a lead mine deep in the eastern reaches of Siberia. He was subjected to intense brutality in the camp and unmitigated brutality the climate. Forrell dreamed continuously of escape and eventually, with the assistance of the camp doctor, effected it.

He trekked from the far East Cape across the vast wastes of Siberia, for thousands of miles. The journey took him over three years. Forrell fled treachery and endured most inhospitable conditions.

Forrell unfolded his remarkable story of survival in a long series of taped interviews with esteemed German author Josef M Bauer. Bauer not only reconstructs the arduous journey to the Iran and freedom; he also reflects the emotional content of Forrell’s journey. The book emerges as an affecting portrait of a man who strove and truly triumphed against all odds.

So, if, like me, this book has passed you by thus far and you would enjoy a true adventure story. Grab this one with both hands.

Val Penny

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