Papillon

  • by Henri Charriere
  • Narrated by Michael Prichard
  • 12 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Henri Charriere, called "Papillon" for the butterfly tattoo on his chest, was convicted in Paris in 1931 of a murder he did not commit. Sentenced to life imprisonment in the penal colony of French Guiana, he became obsessed with one goal: escape. After planning and executing a series of treacherous yet failed attempts over many years, he was eventually sent to the notorious prison Devil's Island, a place from which no one had ever escaped - until Papillon. His flight to freedom remains one of the most incredible feats of human cunning, will, and endurance ever undertaken.
Papillon, Charriere's astonishing autobiography, was published in France to instant acclaim in 1968, more than 20 years after his final escape. Since then, it has become a treasured classic - the gripping, shocking, ultimately uplifting odyssey of an innocent man who would not be defeated.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Well Written Autobiography

Although this is an autobiography, it reads like a novel. I loved reading this book. But once again it highlights the fact that humans can be the most vicious and mean species on the face of the earth. Papillon was not perfect, in fact he did some pretty bad things, but he did not commit the murder he was accused of, and for which he was sent to prison for life. Not just prison, but hard labor, with long stretches of solitary confinement in which he could talk to no one, ask for nothing, and never even see the sun. Papillon tried to escape 10 times and was totally successful the first time. If he hadn't decided he wanted to live somewhere else, he would never have been found and been reimprisoned. I remember seeing the movie with Steve McQueen years ago, and now I want to see it again.

More than anything else, this book taught me to never give up no matter how bleak the outlook. Some days I really need to remember that lesson.

I was a little "if-y" about Michael Prichard as a narrator at first, but I came to realize that his style and vocal characteristics are perfect for this story. Highly recommended.
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- Sher from Provo "Tired teacher. That is, REtired teacher."

The First Escaped Con that Everyone LOVES?

This is a good story. It's translated, so at times the English can be a bit all over the place. There was only one real issue I had, and it's a big one... EVERYONE wanted to be this guy's friend. I don't mean everyone INSIDE prison; actually, that's where the only real tension (best action) takes place. I mean, when this guy escapes, he tells everyone he meets that he's a DANGEROUS escaped convict, and EVERYONE bends over backwards to help him!!

They will say things like:

"Here, take my food that I was going to feed my family with!"

"Here, go sleep with my sister. Oh, she's not your type? Well, here, take my wife."

"Here, take my only boat, that I use for fishing, to feed my family!!"

It may sound like I'm kidding, but trust me, I'm not. It got to be ridiculous. He didn't have to threaten people on the outside, they were just unbelievably eager to help him in any way possible. I don't know if it's just the age we're living in, but I'd venture a guess that around 5% of people would willingly assist a person that approached them and said "Hello, I'm a dangerous escaped con. How's your day going?" Most people would run and/or call the police. In this book, literally 100% of the non-police people he comes across want to help him, and even risk their own lives to do so!

I wanted so badly to like this book, but it is just so unbelievable, I found myself laughing and shaking my head at parts that were clearly not meant to be funny. It's a shame, because there aren't many books out there about escaped cons that have escaped multiple times.

Narrator is excellent. Translation is ok, not great.
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- aaron "Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-12-2012
  • Publisher: HarperAudio