NPJ Book Review: Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls by Edward E. Leslie

Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls by Edward S. Leslie (1988)

I wanted to read something that has been sitting on my shelf for some time and might take my mind off the voluminous amount of disinformation and highly questionable agendas of the day.

The agenda of this work is forthright. The title suggets the content. The author reveals  “some dark truths about human nature, the limits of courage, and the fragility of life itself.” Who and what defines courage? Under what circumstances?  This is a book of survival stories and the survivors who develop rituals, rules and self-organizing steps to move forward especially in the presence of danger or a calamity…the character and mind of each survivor is not to be prejudged.  Personal, intellectual and emotional resources are tested.

Whether it was Alexander Selkirk upon which the story of Robinson Crusoe was based, or others caught among cannibals in Brazil, “cut throat” pirates, the brutality of life itself when caught up ina situation beyond one’s control,  shipwrecks, boredom, fear, and mistrust….to more modern-day stories where a few found success in surviving paying attention to the smallest of details while other survived on a more provocative scale in the form of a spiritual awakening. In a majority of cases the individual that survived found a form of release by “recording” their experience first in their mind and then on paper or sharing their stories first hand.  This work is a third person narrative… fascinating, adventurous and intriguing, nonetheless.

The writing about one’s survival for some was in a way a saving grace allowing the survivor to deal with the horrific nature of their experiences and to come to terms with their existence. Yet we discover through these stories that no one is invincible, and judgment is easier existing in a safe place rather than the midst of the horrendous event itself. Who is to judge the survivor’s actions?

Leslie’s research is solid and the bibliography and suggested readings show it. A thoughtful escape, so to speak, in this day and age of living on the edge.