Sunday, October 19, 2014

Review: Path to Freedom by Conrad Taylor

**I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest review**
4/5 Stars
Synopsis per Goodreads:
Little about Conrad Taylor's upbringing in a remote mining town, carved into the upper reaches of the Amazon jungle, prepared him for a first-of-a-kind scholarship to West Point. An extraordinary opportunity for most, it was a life-changer for him. Culture shock hardened the ensuing West Point Experience. And, Third World politics tested it - severely. The book has a simple proposition. Fly-or-die!
"PATH to FREEDOM: My Story of Perseverance" charts a sometimes-humorous journey of perseverance, resilience, hope, survival, and love. It traverses between the ecologically-exotic Guyana, South America and the wind-swept plains of the highly-regimented United States Military Academy - at the height of the Vietnam War. The narrative sums up rude awakenings, especially after West Point - because of West Point.
The book offers up a ringside seat to Taylor's journey. It provides a unique prism through which to see the cultural trauma of emigration, the unique experience that is West Point, the personal side of Cold-War-era geopolitics, and the mayhem of Third World politics. The view will be nostalgic for some, shocking to many, and enlightening for others. Its subtly-threaded love story will enchant - at the very least. 
The account describes what happened upon Taylor's return to a government turned repressive, anti-American, and paranoid - overnight. The Soviet-leaning, Cold-War-era dictatorship feared regime change. Its power-hungry leaders obsessed about him being a spy for the United States. His was the impossible task of proving that he was not - or else!

 My thoughts on this book:
I was asked to read and review this book from the author.  This is a coming of age auto biographical book, that follows the author through some main points of his young life up living in Guyana South America, follows him through his scholarship to West Point, then after he went back to Guyana, where is government thinks he's a spy for America.
My favorite part of the entire book was the beginning.  The author clearly loves where he grew up his description of the beautiful of Guyana, and the waterfalls, and wild life and trees, I really need to add this place to my bucketlist to go see all of it, especially the waterfall. I've never heard of Guyana before, but the description made me feel like I was there.
There were a few points through the book that I wish were elaborated on, because the briefest mention was made, but then nothing beyond that, curious minds need to know ALL.  The memories and culture shock of arriving in America were interesting to read, I wish there were more mention, if he had problems as far as racism or anything like that,   There were a lot of hazing and seemingly awful memories of West Point, I kind of wondered if there were many good memories, and wish I had gotten to read some of those.  I'm walking away from this book with the thoughts of bullying and WP being awful, there didn't seem to be any happiness except for when there were more freedom allowed to go visit Ona (girlfriend at the time).  Oh and why after marrying Ona did he go back but she stay in the US? I was confused at that part.
It was an easy read, though filled with lots of facts and details about political things going on at the time, both in Guyana and West Point.  The author is very articulate and well written, and it was obvious he went through so much, and it was obviously painful to go through that, when he the place where he was born.  Good book!

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for reading Path to Freedom: My Story of Perseverance and giving it such a thoughtful review. I am glad that you found the book an easy read, learned something new from it, and now want to visit Guyana as a result.

    You are correct that PATH to FREEDOM did not go into "racism or anything like that" at West Point. I did leave that to the speculation of its readers, in describing the initial rocky relationships with my roommates during "Beast Barracks." Though racism may have been a major contributor, it was just another cultural obstacle for me to overcome, then. I was less alert to that possibility because ethnicity - and not race - was an issue in Guyana. West Point is very difficult by design because of its unique mission. My most pressing concern was surviving its rigors. That I did was ultimately a self-affirming foundational experience.

    Oh, I returned to Guyana without my new bride after West Point because of uncertainty. Warnings about either of us going back were factors. And, Ona was expecting our first child. I had far more confidence in the healthcare system here.

    I do appreciate the investment of your time.

    Best wishes, Kim.