Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle

In This Review

Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle
By Ingrid Betancourt
The Penguin Press HC, 2010
544 pp. $29.95
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In February 2002, Betancourt, a senator running for president of Colombia, was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. A dual Colombian-French national, she is feted in France as a courageous activist who took great risks in the pursuit of peace but provokes controversy in Colombia. Was her kidnapping the result of her government's purposeful security lapses or a consequence of her own reckless political grandstanding? In captivity, did Betancourt behave with undaunted dignity, as she asserts, or did she take advantage of her celebrity to gain privileged treatment, as other hostages have alleged? Surprisingly, in this memoir, her politics come off as somewhat superficial; her allegiances, unstable. Looking back on her six and a half years of torment, she makes a virtue of ambiguity: "I have become a complex being. . . . I am torn between opposing emotions. . . . I can accept my inconsistencies without worrying about other people." And her assertions, à la Nelson Mandela, that she has exorcised the urge for revenge and seeks only Christian love do not quite ring true. Nevertheless, the book succeeds as an intimate confessional memoir. It is a moving exploration of self-discipline and resilience on the part of captives and captors battling to survive, in body and soul, under the most extreme conditions.