10 Amazing Survival Stories That Turned Into Great Books

5. Yossi Ghinsberg – Jungle: A Harrowing True Story of Survival

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Four friends decide to do a little exploring in the Brazilian Amazon. Several hours later, they realize that they are lost and severely under equipped. With the day almost gone, Yossi and his friends decide to split up into teams of two. When Yossi loses his partner while trying to raft down the river he finds himself helplessly lost and trying to survive with no equipment and very little survival knowledge. Alone and desperate, he fights for his life for 19 days in the unforgiving rain forest. Two of the four friends are never seen again. This account of his terrifying ordeal in the Brazilian Jungle is one that you will never forget. Yossi’s story is one of overcoming fear and never giving up. When hope is all you have left, you cling to it tightly. Yossi now travels the world as a motivational speaker and lives in the very forest that almost took his life.

4. Joe Simpson – Touching the Void

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During a climbing trip in the Peruvian Andes, Friends Joe Simpson and Simon Yates find the kind of trouble that will test their courage, will to survive, and their friendship. Descending the Siula Grande, the most dangerous leg of the 20,000-foot climb, Joe slips down an ice cliff and severely breaks his leg. With only 300 foot of rope between them, Simon digs into the snow and attempts to lower his friend down the vertical rock face. Instead of finding a safe perch, Joe is hanging off a cliff over a deep crevasse. Simon can neither see nor hear his friend and has no way of knowing if he is safe. Disaster strikes as Simon’s anchor starts to crumble under him and he is drawn to the very edge of the cliff. Not knowing whether his friend is hanging two feet or two hundred feet from safety, Simon has a choice to make. Hold on to the rope his friend his tied to, be pulled over the edge to his death, or cut the rope, and hope his friend will be all right. What would you do? This riveting true story is a book that will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.
This riveting true story is also a documentary by Kevin MacDonald.

3. Steven Callahan – Adrift

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Incredibly quick thinking allowed this survivor the opportunity to live and love again. During a storm at sea, Steven Callahan believes a collision with a disoriented whale is the cause of his boat sinking into the depths of the stormy and unforgiving Atlantic. Realizing he was about to lose his boat, he gathered everything he could think of that he might need to survive, including a book on surviving at sea, and clamored into his life raft just in time.

For the next 76 days, he drifted more than 1800 miles through two shipping lanes and almost floated unnoticed past the island of Marie Galante near Guadeloupe before being sighted and rescued by a fishing boat crew. His indomitable spirit helped him through hardships like dehydration, exposure to the elements, storms, hunger, shark attacks, and much more. There is one good thing that came from Steve’s incredible experience is while he was adrift, he kept his mind sharp by developing a life raft that is more survival friendly and would allow a person who was adrift to sail and navigate. His wonderfully written book is a testament to the human spirit and courage.

2. Ernest Shackleton – Endurance

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The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914 – 17 only served to cement the reputation of the greatest American explorer, Ernest Shackleton. Already a tried and proven hero, Shackleton led an expedition that was fated to failure and should have meant the death of many, if not all of the 56 men who signed up for the historic adventure. When their ship The Endurance became ice bound and hopelessly adrift, Shackleton’s leadership and bravery kept these souls alive and vital. He had hoped that the ship, trapped in a floating ice floe, would drift them close to Vahsel Bay, but nine months later on Oct 24, the breaking ice put too much pressure on the hull, breaking her up and eventually sinking her. Shackleton had already set up an ice camp and amazingly, not one soul was lost during the entrapment on the ice floe. He then led them on a six-month quest to cross the ice prison and escape to land. This proved to be an effort in futility as they were forced to take to the lifeboats when the ice floe broke in half. Five days at sea landed them on an inhospitable island named Elephant Island. So concerned was Shackleton for the safety and well being of the men in his expedition that he gave his gloves to a cameraman who had lost his at sea. Shackleton developed frostbite in his own hands.
Not one to rely on fate for a rescue, he put his best men to work redesigning and upgrading one of the lifeboats, Choosing five of his best, they set to sea in the craft, christened the James Caird after the main sponsor of the expedition, 15 days after landing on Elephant Island, vowing to return for the friends and crewmen left behind. Two weeks later, they reached South Georgia but were unable to land because, as luck would have it, they sailed directly into a hurricane that pummeled the coast. Incredibly, they rode out the storm at sea. That same storm capsized and sunk a 500 ton steamer headed for South Georgia. If all of this wasn’t enough, they landed on an isolated part of the mountainous island just about opposite of where they needed to be. Not daunted, Shackleton led two of his party across the mountains to civilization, a feat that had never been accomplished before. A few had crossed the island on skis to be sure, but no one had ever crossed the island straight through the center over the mountainous region, which was thought impossible. Shackleton did it with only fifty feet of rope and no equipment.
Throughout this amazing journey, Shackleton had led his team through impossible odds by virtue of his courage and undeniable strength of character. His will to live was a contagious force. Only three men were lost during this nearly two-year ordeal. Three attempts to retrieve the 22 men stranded on Elephant Island were foiled by ice floe but Shackleton persevered. He could have left their rescue to others but instead, Ernest Shackleton led the way back to the island to get his men. An incredible man on an incredible adventure called life.

1. Jan Baalsrud – We Die Alone

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World War II produced heroes. Regular men and women pushed to extraordinary actions by a savage war that, if lost, could endanger freedom on a worldwide scale and wipe out an entire line of peoples. Jan Baalsrud was just one of these heroes who started the war as a regular man who had to do terrible things to survive. After destroying their boat by detonating 8 tons of explosives following a botched mission to destroy a German, air control tower, Jan, and three fellow Norwegian commandos were attempting to escape in a smaller craft when they were attacked by German aircraft. Their small boat destroyed, they found themselves in the icy arctic waters. Surviving the swim to shore, all but Jan were killed or captured by the Nazis. Eluding the enemy, Jan, with only one boot, managed to kill the top-ranking Gestapo Officer. He escaped on foot into the freezing snow-covered countryside. Sick with frostbite and snow blindness, he luckily fell in with a band of Norwegian resistance fighters. In a hut, with no medical personnel around to help him, he was forced to face a terrible decision. Barely able to walk, he operated on his own feet with his pocketknife, making incisions to draw off the poisoned blood.
In an attempt to reach medical help in the town of Mandal, Norway, they found bad weather moving in and Mandal over-run with German troops and patrols. They left Jan on a stretcher on a high plateau where he was stranded for eighteen days with only a rock wall for cover during which time he was forced, again using his pocketknife, to amputate nine of his toes to prevent the spread of Gangrene. Staying alive through sheer force of will, he was lucky to be found by fellow Norwegians and taken to a tribe of native Scandinavians called the Lapps Sami, who cared for him until he could be returned to his country. After the war, Jan Baalsrud went on to retirement and became the chairperson of the Norwegian Disabled Veterans Union. His story is truly one of endurance, a strong will to live, and willingness to sacrifice for the cause of freedom.
Movie about it: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050762/

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