It tells a remarkable story of endurance, deprivation and at times great tenderness. It concerns a young Pole who was wrongfully imprisoned and sentenced for being a spy. Arrested in the early part of the Second World War, after a mock trial he was sent to Siberia to serve 25 years of hard labour. Joined by a small band of other escapees he set off on a 4000 mile journey on foot across the freezing wastes of Siberia, the barren intensity of the Gobi desert and the forbidding Himalayas. Along they way they are joined by young 17 year old Kristina who is also fleeing the Soviets. Her interaction with the hardened men is remarkable and touching.
They experienced all too brief times of kindness, hospitality and generosity, as their paths crossed with solitary shepherds and hunters. These times really were wonderful examples of what theologians would call 'common grace'.
Having read he book and throughly enjoyed it a web search throws up a lot of debate around the veracity of the book (see here...although this is 'only' wikipedia ) amongst much else. I'm not in a position to judge, but I suspect that the book is probably a gathered up collection of the stories of various Polish ex-prisoners. Powerful all there same.
Yet again, just as after reading about our forbears who endured the rigours of the Great War, or those who explored Antartica at the turn of the 20th century, I'm left humbled and wonder how well the majority of our current generation would cope with such adversities.