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Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle (Hardcover)


Product Description
On February 13, 2003, a plane carrying three American civilian contractors—Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Tom Howes—crash-landed in the mountainous jungle of Colombia. Dazed and shaken, they emerged from the plane bloodied and injured as gunfire rained down around them. As of that moment they were prisoners of the FARC, a Colombian terrorist and Marxist rebel organization. In an instant they had become American captives in Colombia's volatile and ongoing conflict, which has lasted for almost fifty years.

In Out of Captivity, Gonsalves, Stansell, and Howes recount for the first time their amazing tale of survival, friendship, and, ultimately, rescue, tracing their five and a half years as hostages of the FARC. Their story takes you inside one of the world's most notorious terrorist organizations, going behind enemy lines with vivid and haunting imagery. Their words conjure a reality that few people have ever encountered—from sleeping on beds literally carved out of the jungle to escaping Colombian military air strikes under the cover of darkness to being bound with steel chains by their captors. Describing backbreaking starvation marches and forced isolation, the authors chronicle their confrontations and interactions with the FARC guerrilla soldiers—a motley crew of brainwashed, idealistic teenagers and seasoned vet-erans who've been around long enough to realize that the only way out of the FARC is in a body bag.

Though the physical punishments their bodies endured were unrelenting, the psychological battles they waged were the ultimate test of their resolve. With candid detail, Gonsalves, Stansell, and Howes relate the perilous mental struggles they each experienced, as they grappled with feelings of guilt, fear, and anxiety for the families and lives they'd left behind. Exposing the transformative power of captivity, they show how they turned these fears into strengths, using their memories and their families, their pasts and their futures, to motivate them in their quest for survival.

Despite the odds and the conditions, despite the chains and the silence, and despite the often tense relationships they experienced with their fellow Colombian hostages, they had one another, forging a bond that allowed them to cope with the horrific conditions of their confinement. This brotherhood enabled them to persevere through the worst that the FARC threw at them while always reminding them of their ultimate goal: freedom.

A harrowing account of one of the longest civilian hostage crises in United States history, Out of Captivity is a remarkable and compelling exploration of how far three Americans were willing to go as they fought to stay alive for themselves, their families, and one another.


About the Author
Marc Gonsalves is a former member of the United States Air Force who worked as a civilian military contractor for four years before the crash. He has a daughter, Destiney, and two stepsons, Cody and Joey. He lives in Connecticut.

An inspiring story of survival, February 27, 2009
By Julie Neal "The Complete Walt Disney World" (Sanibel Island, Fla.)


Here's an inspirational true story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. And make you count your blessings.

The book grabs you from the very beginning, with a harrowing, you-are-there plane crash in the Colombian mountains. The story is told by the three men who survived.

After the plane's engines fail, the pilots frantically search for a clearing. It's a miracle that one appears: "If we were falling down a deep well, that clearing was like finding a tiny ledge just a few inches above bottom." When the men emerge from the crash, they are being fired upon by FARC guerrillas.

Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Tom Howes spent over five years as captives of FARC, a Colombian terrorist and guerrilla organization. The group forces the men on a 40-day starvation march through the jungle, chains them, keeps them isolated and threatens to execute them. Surviving the jungle itself is not easy. I think I might always remember the description of the tiny ticks that "got in places on us that had never seen daylight. They worked their way into our skin, and if we had let them stay there long enough, they would have sucked the life out of us."

A glossy 16-page section includes 39 color photographs, including family photos before and after the ordeal, an abandoned FARC camp showing how the beds and pathways were constructed, the cigarettes used as camp currency, a chess set one of the men built out a cardboard box and whittled wood, and pages from a journal.

Here's the chapter list:

Prologue: A Place to Crash
1. Choices and Challenges
2. Changes in Altitude
3. ¿Quién Sabe?
4. The Transition
5. Settling In
6. Proof of Life
7. Caribe
8. Broken Bones and Broken Bonds
9. Ruin and Recovery
10. Getting Healthy
11. Dead
12. Running on Empty
13. Reunited
14. The Swamp
15. Politics and Pawns
16. Fat Camp
17. Freedom
18. Homecoming

An amazing book!, February 26, 2009
By Thomas J. Holewinski (Chicago)


I've been lucky enough to work with many of the people that tried so hard to get these 3 Americans out of the hands of the leftist narco-terrorist group, the FARC over the last 5 years. Thousands of dedicated Colombian's and Americans worked day and night for years trying to get ALL of these POWs back. I can't begin to express how happy I am to see them all returned safely and in one piece. An early copy of this book was just given to us this morning and I literally spent the last 5 hours reading as much of it as I could.

I am not surprised at all about the comments they wrote about the leftist politician, FARC sympathiser and 2002 Colombian Presidential canidate, Ingrid Betancourt. Her actions while confined were horrible, vile and should be considered inexcusable. If anyone has read the book "King Rat" by James Clavell, it would give you a good idea about what kind of terrible things she would do to the other prisoners. She would steal food, manipulate her fellow prisoners for better treatment and privlages, and even endangered the American's lives by telling the FARC they were CIA agents!!

The abysmal actions of Ingrid Betancourt are exactly the reason why US President Eisenhower, (later amended by President Reagan) created the "Military Code of Conduct", which are rules by which all POWs should live by.

For anyone that is interested in:
1. Reading about the amazing struggle of 3 brave Americans held captive by leftist narco-terrorists and how things like the Code of Conduct helped keep them alive over 5 years in captivity
2. Just how low people like Ingrid Betancourt can sink to in POW type situations and betray thier fellow POWs
3. Knowing the true personality of the possible future Presidential canidate for Colombia, Ingrid Betancourt

THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU!

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