Intense memoir of epic survival that both shocked and thrilled a worldwide audience.
Piers Paul Read’s Alive was an international bestseller based on the 1972 ordeal of Uruguayan survivors of a plane crash high in the Andes mountains. Now Parrado, one of the members of that Montevideo rugby club, who was instrumental in the story’s outcome, sets down his personal recollections for the first time. The bare facts remain gripping: In October, 45 passengers and crew, comprising the team, family members and fans departed Mendoza, Argentina, bound for Santiago, Chile, in a chartered twin-engine turboprop plane. The plane, traveling through turbulent mountain passes in lowering visibility, crashed into a peak and came to rest in a glacial snow field at an altitude of about 12,000 feet. There were 32 survivors, some terminally injured. Parrado’s harrowing account details the burial of his mother, dead on impact, and later his sister, who died of internal injuries; meanwhile, the group, without heavy clothing (some had never seen snow before) or any source of food, set about improvising for survival on the freezing mountain. They cared for injured teammates, watched others die and finally made the agonizing decision that the bodies were, indeed, their only potential source of food—hence the sensational reaction to the original story. After two months, Parrado, who sustained a skull fracture, and one companion were able to traverse some 70 miles of Andean terrain without any mountaineering equipment or know-how in order to contact rescuers in Chile, saving the remaining 16.
The author claims to not have flashbacks, but his candid, vivid memories bring this nearly incredible story to life once again.