WordsAPlenty received from the author a copy of Path to Freedom: My Story of Perseverance by Conrad Taylor in exchange for an honest review.
Path to Freedom: My Story of Perseverance written by Conrad Taylor is an exciting memoir of his life during a difficult and violent time. Taylor grew up in a small mining town in Guyana, South America and one of two young men selected to attend West Point Military Academy. The culture shock was enough to send Taylor spinning but then adding the demanding life of a West Point cadet, it is surprising he survived the experience as balanced as he did.
The stipulations of attending the West Point Military Academy required he return to Guyana to fulfill the conditions of his scholarship. Naïvely, Taylor went back expecting a high paying job within the government only to discover the Guyana he once knew was no more. Instead a dictatorship with a strong relationship with the Soviet Union was at odds with the US. The power-hungry, greed driven leadership trusted no one, especially the two West Point graduates. Taylor and his friend Chait had to prove they were no traitors or spies pigeon-holing the two young men into career and life choices that make their continued existence questionable.
“Unhappily, Prime Minster Burnham and other power brokers peered at me through a curtain of self-induced paranoia that clouded their judgment. They saw me more as a liability than asset and as a problem to be solved rather than a resource to be fully utilized. They placed personal wants and their desire for unfettered power ahead of national needs. Personal ambitions subordinated national interests all too often.”
Taylor does an outstanding job of making the story flow between accurate historical accounts and his own personal experiences during this difficult time of the Cold-War Era. He communicates clearly with his words the fears and frustrations he and his family experienced both in the US and home in Guyana. One would expect the massive amount of historical information would be boring or overwhelming and sound text bookish; Taylor is an exceptional story teller. He makes the connections between historical information and his experiences blend together seamlessly.
Although most people know of the unrest during this period, I would venture a guess that what Taylor reveals would be considered unthinkable and appalling to most back then and today. I read this book over several days, far longer than I would normally have taken because it was heart wrenching. Taylor made me feel his pain and frustration, the unfairness of being hazed and a foreigner as well as being home and isolated because of politics. This book covers a wide berth of emotions, history and humanness. I was left asking myself how anyone could survive and still be strong emotionally and mentally to carry on with life. Some of his experiences seem almost “made for the movies” with sneaking, hiding in plain sight and so on.
“Mayo drove my family and me to Timehri International Airport. Navigating Timehri and taking off, successfully, promised to be the trickiest in the last stage of the clandestine emigration process. The “last mile” required the utmost caution.”
Taylor is masterful at crafting the story. His words are clear and the image he wishes to project is powerful. With a large number of memoirs it is an opportunity to share a story with a narrow focus; Taylor shares so much more in his memoir. This is one of those books that evokes thought and questions.
I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a book that is powerful, historically accurate, and insightful.
WordsAPlenty gives this book a well-deserved 5 star rating.
Click here to purchase.