Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors

Alive: The Story of George is a 1974 book by the British writer Paul Piers Read documenting the events of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 .


Main article: 1972 Andes flight disaster

Alive tells the story of an Uruguayan Rugby team (who were alumni of Stella Maris College ), and their friends and family who were involved in the airplane crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 . The plane crashed into the Andes mountainson Friday, October 13, 1972. Of the 45 people on the flight, only 16 survived in sub-zero temperatures. After many days of searching for survivors, the rescue team was forced to end the search. Consequently, the survivors had to survive with rations found in the wreckage after the plane had crashed. The rations did not last long, and it became necessary for the survivors to eat the bodies of the dead. This was possible because of the bodies had been preserved with the freezing temperatures and the snow. The book was published two years after the survivors of the crash were rescued. The author interviews many of the survivors and the authors of this book. He wanted to write the story as it had happened without embellishment or fictionalizing it. The author comments on this processAcknowledgments section:

I was given this book by both the publisher and the sixteen survivors. At times I was tempted to fictionalize some parts of the story because of their strength in their dramatic impact in the end. manuscript of this book, some of them were disappointed by my presentation of their story. They felt that the faith and friendship which inspired them in the cordillera do not emerge from these pages. It was never my intention to underestimate these qualities, but perhaps it would be beyond the skill of any writer to express their own appreciation of what they have lived through. [1]


The book was a critical success. Walter Clemons said that it “will become a classic in the literature of survival.” [2]

D. Keith Mano, of The Times New York Times Book Review gives the book a “rave” review, stating that “Read’s style is savage: unliterary, undecorated as a prosecutor’s brief.” He also described the book as an important one:

Cowardice, selfishness, whatever: their essential heroism can weather Read’s objectivity. He has made them human. ‘Alive’ is thunderous entertainment: I know the events by rote, nonetheless I found it electric. And important. ‘Alive’ should be read by sociologists, educators, the Joint Chief of Staff. By anyone, in fact, whose business is to prepare men for adversity. [3]

Michael A. Rogers concurs, stating that “Read has risen above the sensational and managed a book of real and lasting value.” [4]


The first edition was released in 1974. A paperback which referenced the film Alive: The Miracle of the Andes , was released in 1993. A new softcover edition, with a revised introduction and additional interviews with Paul Read Piers, Coche Inciarte, and Alvaro Mangino , was released by HarperCollins in 2005. This edition aussi has a new subtitle: Sixteen Men, Seventy-two Days, and Insurmountable Odds – The Classic Adventure of Survival in the Andes. The book was also re-released, simply titled Alive , in October 2012.


In 1993, Alive: The Miracle of the Andes , by Frank Marshall was released. A companion documentary, Alive: 20 Years Later , was made at the same time.


The book inspired the song “The Plot Sickens” on the album Every Trick in the Book by American metalcore band Ice Nine Kills .


  1. Jump up^ Read, Paul Piers,Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, Lippincott (1974), p.10
  2. Jump up^ Clemons, Walter. “Alive”Newsweek(April 22, 1974), p.104.
  3. Jump up^ Mano, D. Keith. “Alive.” The New York TimesBook Review (April 7, 1974), p.2.
  4. Jump up^ Rogers, Michael … “Alive.” Rolling Stone. (May 23, 1967), p.90.