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

A must read, if human nature matters to you!

It's been a while for me since I last find a precious gem like this book. After reading a few good books from Blaisse Pascal, Alexandre Dumas, other stories become pale. I bought the book after some hearty recommendation, which I hope so much to be able to spread it further. Reading this book I realized that human drama when real would never fail to touch. The author has a rather simple style of telling things. On the other hand, he's observation must have been exceptional, making it possible for him to bring out tiny but psychologically penetrating details.
More than once while listing to the book, I had to stop. The emotion it conveyed overwhelmed me. It forced me to slow down and ponder. I resume the listening once I get over it. Surely the life of Papillion must have been full of pain, physical and emotional kinds; even though his story is filled with love and kindness. There were fewer words on the suffering compared to the human experience Papillion wanted to share with the reader. His survival must have a lot to do with this nature in him. The civilized French society failed him in a brutal way, yet he had not failed in embracing the kindness in human nature.
What more can be said about the power of a story, if it succeeds in making me feel this way given that I watched the movie and fully know the story upfront? Indeed, there's no recommendation that could do this book justice. Find it out for yourself!
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- kieu

Book Details

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