"Conrad- I finished reading your manuscript, it was riveting! I think it should be made into a movie. You provided me with an enlightening look into a country I knew very little about, and into a fellow West Pointer who, after reading his work, I feel I could call a friend and a compatriot." - Kevin Mckeown, West Point Class of 1977
Little about Conrad Taylor's primitive 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 the United States Military Academy. Merely an extraordinary opportunity for most Americans, it was a life-changer for him. Culture shock hardened the ensuing West Point Experience. Third World politics tested it - severely.
"Path to Freedom" is an inspirational memoir. It charts a sometimes-humorous journey of perseverance, resilience, hope, survival, and love, as its author traverses between Guyana and the highly-regimented United States Military Academy - at the height of the Vietnam War. It has a simple proposition - fly-or-die. The narrative sums up rude awakenings, especially after West Point - because of West Point.
The book describes what happened upon the author's return in 1973 to a government turned repressive, anti-American, and paranoid - overnight. The Soviet-leaning, Cold-War-era dictatorship feared regime change. Its leaders obsessed about him being in cahoots with the United States. His was the impossible task of proving that he was not - or else!
Taylor's journey forged a unique prism through which aficionados of true stories could get a peek at the cultural trauma of emigration, the personal side of Cold-War-era geopolitics, and the mayhem of Third World politics. The view will be nostalgic for some, shocking for many, and enlightening for others.
Like Chris Gardner's "Pursuit of Happyness," which is the basis of a blockbuster film starring Will Smith, "Path to Freedom" has cinematic potential. Its backdrop, which is an underdeveloped Amazonian region of South America and the wind-swept plains of West Point, will enchant - at the very least. Its subtly-threaded love story sets it apart.
More than a memoir, the book's travelogue element - exotic ecology, culture, politics, history, and geography - is captivating. The truth-is-stranger-than-fiction arc of the historically-accurate "Path to Freedom" and its unsophisticated, naive foreigner-at-West Point aspect is riveting.
"Path to Freedom" reads like a novel.
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1 . PATH to FREEDOM
Posted August 27, 2011 by Clairmonte A. Griffith , Pittsburgh,PAAfter reading PATH to FREEDOM :My Story of Perseverance,which I highly recommend ,it became evident that the author's (Conrad Taylor) path and that of myself had crossed both in Guyana and above the Hudson River at West Point,NY during RECONDO (a hybrid of reconnaissance and commando) training. I was among an 82nd Airborne detail from the Golden (3rd) Brigade assigned to instruct cadets in such techniques.
PATH to FREEDOM is Conrad Taylor's 1st hand,graphic account of his unique experiences as one of the first two Guyanese to receive four year Scholarships from the U.S.Government to attend the prestigious United States Military Academy (USMA) at West point in 1969. He graduated with the Class of 1973,standing tall in "The LONG GRAY LINE" with his fellow classmates upon successfully completing the rigorous West Point program.
His experiences,after his return to his native land,expose a level of paranoia,a repressive Government structure and an over-politicized Defense Force,which robbed his country of badly needed talent,when it most needed qualified people.
The misguided deeds of a few powerful,self-serving leaders doomed the prospect of a beautiful,once promising country.His journey exhibits a series of inspiring lessons in perseverance,as the subtitle of his book aptly captures.
Because I found Conrad Taylor's account riveting and authentic at many levels,I expect readers will find it easy to identify and root for him,as I did . His story became my story,even though the facts and circumstances of significant parts of my life are different. It helped me reflect,with renewed clarity,on why I left the shores of Guyana so many years ago. His truth became mine as I read his book from start to finish in one day. I could not put it down.
Again,I highly recommend PATH to FREEDOM .
April 20, 2011
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