31 Days Of Great Nonfiction Reads {Day 7} We Die Alone

We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance by David Howarth. Day 7 of 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books / Great Nonfiction ReadsWe Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and EnduranceWe Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance by David Howarth. Day 7 of 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books / Great Nonfiction Reads by David Howarth

I read this book while growing up and didn’t remember the title, or some of the specific details, but the overall story stuck with me. And some specific events I’ve never forgotten.

Then, a couple of years ago, I stumbled across the book and was thrilled to have the author & title of that book I’d remembered. I devoured it more than read it, and found that it was as entrancing as I’d remembered. Not because of smooth storytelling or beautiful passages, but because the story is so gripping.

Jan Baalsrud’s survival account is astonishing and unforgettable (even if the title and author were somewhat forgettable). The risks the villagers took to help him survive, the ordeal he had to go through, it’s all a remarkable tale. I’ve read a lot of survival accounts, and this one is particularly powerful because so much of the time Baalsrud is alone, and his refusal to die is incredible.

Publisher’s Description:
In March 1943 a team of expatriate Norwegian commandos sailed from the Shetland Islands for Nazi-occupied Norway. Their mission was to organise and support the Norwegian resistance. They were betrayed. And only one man survived a terrifying ambush by Nazi soldiers. This is the incredible and gripping story of his escape. Crippled by frostbite and snow-blind, hunted by the Germans, Jan Baalsrud, the sole survivor, managed to find a tiny Arctic village. There, delirious and close to death, he found villagers willing to risk their lives to save him. We Die Alone is his incredible story – an incomparable epic of survival in the most hostile conditions.

31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books

To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads, go to the series page.

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  1. This is definitely going on my list. I love reading historical accounts like this.

    • You can tell that the book was written in 1955 just by the style of writing, but obviously I still loved it. 🙂

  2. There are SO MANY books I read as a child that I do not remember the names or authors of (what an awkward sentence). SO MANY. Sometimes I wonder if I ever actually read a book about a subject or a particular story or if I just dreamed it–because that’s how so many of the half-remembered, impressionistic memories of plotlines feel, like dreams.

    Anyway. I love it when I find one of them and discover it really did exist all along. Especially if it turns out to still be a good book. ^_^

    • I know exactly what you mean – did I really read this book? Am I making it all up? I kind of felt that way about this book – there’s a part of it that, in my hazy memory of it, seemed so implausible I thought I had to be making it up.

      But it is so nice when I can find childhood books and reread them as an adult and see how it matches up with my memories.

      Strangely enough, the other two books from my childhood that I was most pleased to find their titles again and reread them are also WWII/Europe settings: Snow Treasure and Twenty and Ten. I loved them both and still do, although I’m not sure how much that is because they’re great books, and how much is because of the fond memories I have of them. 🙂


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