Book Review: Miracle in the Andes

Miracle in the Andes is Nando Parrado‘s account of his rugby team’s survival in the Andes in 1972. It is the first person perspective of the story already told in the book and movie Alive. For more information on the plane crash and ensuing rescue, check out this Wikipedia page.

I haven’t seen Alive, but I’m going to, because Parrado’s book is stunning, inspiring, and beautifully written. I highly recommend it for anyone who’s looking for both a chronological telling of what happened during those 72 cold, cold days and a deeply emotional reflection only possible from the man who lived it.

What Parrado and his friends went through is unimaginable for those of us who have not experienced an ordeal of that magnitude. Reading Miracle in the Andes reminded me of reading stories from the Holocaust — there is simply no way you can get your head around the pain and suffering.

Yet, the questions I asked myself while reading were, "What would I have done? Would I have been so brave? Could I have survived?" There is no way to know. Maybe, someday, I will face a challenge that calls for true, physical courage. In the the meantime, I can be proud to know that I am human like Parrado is human, and that our shared humanity hopefully implies some sort of shared, primal, benign instincts.

The book’s universal message is that we are all mortal. I believe, as Parrado does, that we can never be too aware of the reality of death and its closeness. 

He closes the book with these words:

As we used to say in the mountains, "Breathe. Breathe again. With every breath, you are alive." After all these years, this is still the best advice I can give you: Savor your existence. Live every moment. Do not waste a breath.

4 Responses to Book Review: Miracle in the Andes

  1. I haven’t read Parrado’s book, but I have read the book “Alive”. The most interesting part of the book was in the last two pages.

    The author states that there was a lodge 10 miles in the opposite direction of which the two men traveled over the mountains for rescue. The lodge was filled with provisions that could have fed them for 2 weeks and was unoccupied because of winter season.

    So, these people went through all of that drama because they never stopped to survey the area for other possibilities.

    This reflects life when we get caught up in our emotions and don’t take time to survey the situation.

  2. mruk says:

    Haven’t read the book, but the movie is superb and one I can strongly recommend worth watching. I’ve never got tired of watching as it’s such a gripping story, with the role of Nando played well by Ethan Hawke.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. Will definitely make a point to pick a copy up from Amazon.

  3. Kris says:

    The movie was really good. My favorite line from the movie is when one of the characters says to the other, “I’ll pay for pizza if you go pick it up”

  4. Krishna says:

    Blood-and-guts reportage is not enough to explain why surviving hardships often emotionally animate a reader. I’ve never been to those high altitudes (except in an airplane), but I can relate it to that I’ve endured in (the plains) my life all along.

    To quote from THE FORGOTTEN SOLDIER by Guy Safer (translated from the French by Lily Emmet):

    “Peace has brought me many pleasures, but nothing as powerful as that passion for survival in wartime, that faith in love, and that sense of absolutes. It often strikes me with horror that peace is really extremely monotonous. During the terrible moments of war one longs for peace with a passion that is painful to bear. But in peacetime one should never, even for an instant, long for war!”

    Can something be more accurate !

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