Monday, 24 June 2013

Lad Lit Book Reviews: Banged Up Abroad: Hellhole by James Miles & Paul Loseby

Books for Men Book Reviews - Banged Up Abroad: Hellhole by James Miles & Paul Loseby
I've learnt a thing or two since reading the odd book about how you might want to try and avoid the perils and pitfalls of finding yourself behind bars in a foreign nick. For example, that dodgy bloke you met in the pub who offers you easy money for going on a simple little trip is dodgy for a very good reason. Another little tidbit is smuggling drugs out of an Asian or South American country is generally a pretty piss-poor decision, especially when all you get is a weeks holiday at a 5-star hotel and about five grand for your troubles. Stick with your 3-star hotel with Thomas Cook, paid with from your own hard earned money; it's less hassle, trust me. 

Oh, and if you've got nothing but clouds between your ears and you opt to take the dodgy bloke up on his offer of luxury in return of doing a little 'favour' for him, run a million miles if he says the job involves traveling to Venezuela!

Franks Kane's In The Shadow Of Papillon sent a shiver down my spine when I read it, and James Miles and Paul Loseby's account of their Fight To Survive South America's Deadliest Prison comes a very close second!

I remember seeing these two lads on the TV show Banged Up Abroad and it was one of my favourite episodes. Here you had two normal guys who naively agreed to smuggle cocaine back into the UK after growing 'bored' of their lives in Leicester, and my God they paid the price for that boredom!

I've said it before in my reviews of these types of books and I'll say it again - I don't applaud anyone for attempting to smuggle or deal in drugs, but I do applaud the testicular fortitude these people put on display when faced with sadistic prison guards, vicious gangs armed to the teeth with knives, guns, and grenades, and not to mention the filth, insects, and rat infested conditions they have to live in. Miles and Loseby had to deal with some of the worst conditions and scenarios I've read about.

My only criticism - and it is a minor criticism - is that at times I did find myself thinking that Uri Geller would have been proud of the levels of truth 'bending' going on in here! Some of the stories seem a little far fetched. James Miles takes control as the lead vocal in this book, and he clearly enjoys playing the tough guy, which I appreciate you have to do in a situation as extreme as this. But there is a bit too much bravado for me at times; too much of Miles making sure he lets the reader know how much of a 'geezer' he is. You're in a awful, horrible, vile situation - we get it. We know how tough you have to be, you don't need to keep reminding the reader!

Then again, maybe I'm being too harsh, and perhaps after you have been through what these two guys went through you're entitled to some creative freedom and dare I say it, boasting. After all is said and done, the sad reality of this book is that it's a very tragic story of a lost youth. It never ceases to amaze me just how shocking some of these experiences can be; sometimes words simply don't do them justice. 

The bond between these two kids - because that's what they were at 19 when this happened - is testament to the inhumane conditions and regime they fought against to live to tell the tale. I'm sure people would be quick to label and stereotype Miles and Loseby as two typical council estate wannabe gangsters; but I think that upbringing probably saved their lives. Christ knows you need to show a bit of streetwise savvy and aggression to survive a place like Yare (the prison in which they were housed).

I found myself engrossed within the pages of this story, and I came to quite like the two boys, and I was willing them to make it through this terrible journey. Everyone makes mistakes, and these two made the Godzilla of all mistakes. But they fought with every ounce of strength and soul left in their bodies, and that comes through in their words.


  1. I saw their story on Locked Abroad and I have to say, it was my favorite Episode by far for Locked Abroad. These two guys kept their hopes up when there was no hope. I'm so happy they were able to leave Venezuela and be with their Family and Friends. I think the US Government should be more helpful to Teenagers who are manipulated and forced to transport drugs. They are vulnerable and not criminals. Therefor, they should not be treated as criminals.

  2. not long finished this book and thourally enjoyed it, do you know of any other good reads along the same lines as this one? maybe other banged up abroad ''stars''