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Conrad Taylor is a West Point graduate and the multiple award-winning author of PATH to FREEDOM: My Story of Perseverance. His memoir is on display at The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum Library for its historical and cultural value. Taylor’s was an ordinary upbringing in a remote mining town in the upper reaches of the Amazon rainforests in Guyana, South America. That changed in 1969, when Conrad won a coveted scholarship to the United States Military Academy. An extraordinary opportunity for most, the achievement was a life-changer for him. Attending the highly-regimented institution during the height of the Cold War, the Vietnam conflict, and the 60s counterculture upheavals added to his culture shock. Rude awakenings, especially after West Point – because of West Point – inform his perspective.
The engineering undergraduate and former executive emigrated to the U.S. from Guyana, South America after stints in the military and business there. He holds a Master’s degree from the Sloan School of Management at MIT and an Executive Management diploma from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. An avid soccer fan, Conrad represented ARMY on an undefeated freshman team and in three NCAA playoffs. He assisted four youth soccer teams to State Championships.
Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
Path to Freedom: My Story of Perseverance is author Conrad Taylor’s captivating memoir of his life journey from a humble beginning in Guyana to the elite West Point institute, back to Guyana and eventually settling down in the U.S. for good. Conrad Taylor is the first of two Guyanese admitted to the United States Military Academy. He won one of ten scholarships awarded to students from Latin America and the Caribbean to attend the world-famous institution in 1969.
Taylor grew up in a vibrant mining community deep in the impenetrable tropical rain forests of Guyana. Raised in his rough and tumble hometown of Mackenzie, Taylor recalls the place as “home to boisterous, fun-loving, hard-living, raucous types,” a beautiful place where anything seemed possible. His ties to West Point didn't serve him well when he went back to Guyana and got caught up in an anti-American political environment. We can definitely relate to Conrad Taylor’s emotions, aspirations, hopes, as well as uncertainties in this memoir. To read about an oppressive government in the midst of political paranoia reminds me to be grateful for never having to endure that kind of turmoil. At the same time, it gives me another level of understanding of what Third World citizens have to go through to obtain freedom as an unconditional human right.
Path to Freedom is an extremely interesting read, thanks to Taylor’s talent for illustrating his life’s journey in such a fascinating way that I found this book difficult to put down until the end. For those looking to be inspired, as well as broaden their knowledge about Guyana and Third World political affairs, this commendable memoir is highly recommended.
We are proud to announce that Path to Freedom: My Story of Perseverance by Conrad Taylor is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree. This tells a reader that this book is well worth their time and money!
This is an unusual book, which many will like to ignore, but will become better and better known. One of its themes mingles uneasily with the others. It is the genuine love between two young people. It is not a tale added to give flavour to the already gripping story of perseverance. The love subplot is as Guyanese as spice mangoes. That is not the only coincidence in the story. The writer, Conrad Taylor is almost twinned in destiny with Chaitram Singh, from a part of the country unlike Taylor’s bauxite mining hometown. They meet at the country’s then leading high school for boys, Queens College. They win scholarships to the United States Military Academy at West Point, leave Guyana on the same flight, arrive at JFK in equal innocence and are equally unmet by Guyana’s representatives. They find themselves hanging together for years after.
What seemed in 1969 like a path to a career and social mobility, a chance to study at a US military academy a benefit based on their achievement record as students and general potential, was later to be an unexpected millstone about their necks after distinguishing themselves, graduating and returning home as ardent patriots to join in building Guyana.
The author sets out to be very faithful to experience and keeps his enthusiasm under admirable balance. It gives authentic samples of Guyanese life, especially during the time before he left his homeland. He serves us a taste of social dynamics at Mackenzie, where he had been a student at the government high school before moving to Queens College.
There is a vivid description of life at West Point, a US military academy, which enjoy high prestige in military circles. Those who had not attended the school need only to read this adventure to get a close-up of the routines and disciplines and the general atmosphere of the institution. Things at West Point were so segregated that, as strange as it may seem, they separated Chait and Conrad. They were in the same school but by higher design lost sight of each other.
Conrad Taylor takes the candid narrative to a time when after he and Chait had in a passion of natural patriotism decided to return home, and in fact returned to Guyana and to unintended consequences both for their lives and for this tale. Guyanese will read the story up to the time of their return as normally uplifting. The story after that point will tend to win unintended responses from partisan sectors.
A high virtue of the book and its author is the rigid truth telling…
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…
• Don't miss the read. Mr. Taylor's story is a compelling tale of perseverance, determination, and dedication to his family. His and his family's path to freedom reminds us all of the true meaning of the American Dream and the tremendous gift those born in America have, and the value of becoming an American to those who have made that choice. This inspiring story reinforces the message that we don't know what we are capable of, until we are faced with adversity. Mr. Taylor's enriching story takes us from the poverty of a remote mining town South America, to West Point, back to South America, jail and finally freedom in America.
"Path to Freedom" is a terrific read, a very compelling account of recent history by someone who lived it, and I recommend it to anyone who loves a great story.
Guyana would not have gained another opportunity to have a representative at the prestigious USMA at West Point until 2005. Like Conrad, I was very fortunate to be an Ambassador for Guyana at the academy. His story is refreshing and awe inspiring. Our experiences are alike in many ways; coming from humble upbringings to celebrity-like status upon gaining entry to West Point. I was told that I was the third from Guyana to have attended the noble institution, but the rigors of West Point and lack of information available in the Guyana Defence Force prevented me from finding out about these individuals. Our experiences at West Point, while not as rigorous, have many similarities since traditions remain intact at West Point. It's surprising that Mr. Taylor didn't give any account of race relations/conflicts at West Point for I've suffered a few during my tenure. I could only imagine such relations being a major hurdle while he attended the institution. Taylor's account of historic Guyana is scary; I thank God my birth occurred in 1986, one yr after the death of Forbes Burham and during Guyana's transition to democracy… I would definitely recommend this book (actually I've posted it on my Facebook page already)…
How does the mother country spit on its own? Read this book to see how things that seem so right can go so wrong.
Conrad Taylor `s journey from a small village in Guyana to the pinnacle of military training at West Point and back presents a compelling glimpse of what actually happened behind the scenes in a closed developing nation. Taylor chronicles the stresses and strains that occur when personalities, cultures and civilizations clash... his is a personal story that shines the spotlight on how poor communications, suspicion, petty jealousies and lack of understanding among people, nations and governments can have a devastating impact on the lives of those young minds who are so critical to the development of poorer nation states that need their talents.
In spite of it all, Taylor's story is a tale of triumph... a real coming of age story that proves the truth of the words of William Cullen Bryant and Theodore Parker... and quoted by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ....
"Truth crushed to earth will rise again..."
"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice..."
`Path to Freedom' is a must read!
This touching and thoughtful memoir paints a vivid picture of an extraordinary life!
Mr. Taylor's story traces his path of unique opportunity, struggle and indeed, perseverance. I had to keep reminding myself what a young man he was while facing incredible adversity, often from those whom he had wished to help and support. I found myself rooting for him and wondering, what became of this young man and his growing family? Did he ever return to Guyana?
Very inspirational and an overall great read!
Conrad …I have read your book at least 3 times and it's awesome. I have 2 daughters 16 yrs & 13 yrs, they have never visited Guyana but have recently developed a deep interest so I just download the ebook for both of them. I have also given Path to Freedom to a young man as a gift who is graduating from high school this year and is accepted into West Point… Comment via www.tcfbusgroup.com
1. Brilliant, multi-layered, emotionally-rich story.
2. There were romantic and emotional turning points, black moments and the resolutions.
3. The writer has done an excellent job in summarizing his brilliant, multi-layered, emotionally-rich story… Via Amazon.com
I've just finished reading this book and can tell you that you HAVE to read it.
This book is by one of the first two Guyanese to attend West Point and it provides a graphic picture of the life there. They received scholarships from the Guyana government via the US government to attend West Point but somewhere along the line the Guyana government saw these, their own scholars, as threats.
This book is an entertaining memoir by Conrad Taylor of his "adventure" from Guyana to West Point to Guyana and finally back to the US. It also provides good details of the lengths to which a totalitarian government went in oppressive measures against two innocent and patriotic men because of unfounded government paranoia. You will be surprised about the revelations.
Academics, military and ex-military people, the curious about the life at West Point, romantics, the curious about life in a third world country experimenting with socialism, in fact, everyone, this book is for you.
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. I highly recommend PATH to FREEDOM.
I wanted to first of all thank you for giving me the honor of reading your manuscript, ''Path to Freedom.'' As I mentioned, I'm an avid reader, and I can honestly say that I do not remember the last time I enjoyed reading a book so much- start to finish. If I had to sum it up in three words: Inspirational, Thoughtful, Amazing...
As a politics and history ''junkie'', I was captivated by the story of your struggle and perseverance. The only thing that stopped me from reading the book in one sitting, was that I had to recharge the batteries on my e-reader!
I can say that I am honored and proud to know Conrad Taylor. I have had had impactful conversations with him throughout the years about being a man, developing a work ethic, becoming a leader, and how to set and achieve goals during that time period. I continue to respect him and value his opinion and know that I can always call him for advice or validation as a second father figure to me. I can say that his book is a terrific read. It embodies the desire of a man that knows no obstacle can derail a man on a mission that has a vision. You have the ability to create your own path, and Conrad is a living testimony to that. I suggest you read Path to Freedom and you will soon recommend the book to your co-workers and family members. Enjoy the read!
I worked with Conrad Taylor and always knew him to be a creative, unique and highly talented individual. Little did I know these words barely scrape the surface of the man. Path to Freedom is a compelling story of his life - an amazing tale I would recommend to anyone... and everyone! I enjoyed it at first because it gave me a better insight into this man I knew... I enjoyed it second because it gave me a better insight into humanity. Well done, Conrad!
I received my copy of "Path to Freedom" by Conrad Taylor shortly after Christmas holidays. Because of all the other stuff I am involved in it is usually very hard for anything to capture my undivided attention for more than half-an-hour. But I have to say that once I started reading this book I did not put it down until I reached the last page. The story told is riveting and skillfully told. The book is interesting in the personal story that it tells, as well as the shifting socio-political tides which provide the backdrop of the narrative. It was a pleasure reading this book. I hope to see more books from Mr. Taylor in the coming months and years.
I am caught reading your manuscript. I was checking my email on my cellular and noticed your email...hmmmmm why is he sending me an email in the middle of the night...very clandestine....anyway almost 2 hours later I am still reading. I just had to stop to let you know I am reading.....reading....reading.....fascinating read.....will let you know when I am done. Hope you are having a wonderful sleep.....it's unfair to me because...now I have to read some more…
Thank you for allowing me the privilege of reading the first draft. It is a compelling and riveting story that will have very wide readership. Many of us who left Guyana or other loved home lands will be able to identify with parts of your journey and your resilient nature. I can't wait for you to get it published.
Your book is quite an inspiration of hard work and sustenance. Although I am from Trinidad, it always makes me proud of my fellow Caribbean citizens, when they set such remarkable examples for the others to follow; keep up the great work, you truly are an inspiration. You were on quite a journey…
You have an easy style of writing. I am enjoying reading about your journey.
I just finished reading your book. WOW! I've recommended it to the librarians in Monticello & Monon, IN, and our son's girlfriend who works with Sony e-readers in CA. What a powerful story of perseverance, love of family, and love of country. I'm proud to know both of you, and wish I had gotten to know you better at USMA Reunions over the years.
I am glad you told me about your book...I stayed up all night last night and read it on my Kindle....great autobiography... The politics in Guyana makes me think this is what is going on in this country....great change and not necessarily for the better. Are the politics of Guyana any better today? I have Guyanese friends and never asked about the politics of their home country...they are Americans and never thought to ask about their heritage in Guyana....the only thing people remember maybe, is Jim Jones????…
I just finished the book, it was spellbinding as it reminded me of so many things: Oliver H, getting tax clearance, leaving without knowing etc...
Just finished your book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I was saddened to hear of your trials. You did a great job of capturing the West Point experience that I hadn’t relived in quite some time. There is part of me that wishes I had known more of your background then. We were young and more into playing time than learning about our fellow cadets, I guess. I received accolades for being the first from my small town of Florida, New York, to attend West Point. I can’t imagine representing a country. I wish I could meet Ona. She sounds like a wonderful woman and you are lucky to have someone by your side through this ordeal. I could go on and on. I wanted more at the end to know where you went and what you did after arriving in New York.
Hi Conrad, I completed Path to Freedom. It was a well written autobiography. Raising adversity, personal objectives and love of family and friends to great heights. I enjoyed your story and had no idea the hardships you encountered. It is clear however if not for your tenacity, resourcefulness and steadfast attitude we would not have met.
Your wife “The International Stalker” adds an underlying strength to the protagonist. Truly a love story in there as well.
Dear Mr. Taylor…I teach in the Department of History. I am researching an article about President Nixon’s visit to West Point in 1971… I enjoyed your book.
I have also completed reading your work......it was very stimulating and at many times riveting. Your references to Yogi Berra were refreshing to me...I love Yogi as well...I can relate to your story easily for many reasons, having shared a QC and GDF background and knowing many of the persons mentioned. You make me regret my rejection of an opportunity to apply for West Point in 1968, while I was at Mons OCS, UK. I was very ignorant of the possibilities and the experience. Later, I always hoped to go visit there one day. You have reminded me that it should be on my priority list of places to visit. I am only a few miles away. I loved all the details of life at the school, as presented by you...
I have to admit, honestly, that your book is one of the most interesting by a Guyanese (that I have read)....Also...What a love story! Very warm,....very fuzzy...gotta visit the kissing rock...That is a part of you that I never knew.
It is almost one AM and I have to tear my self away!!! Pretty good stuff. Congrats.
I left Guyana at the tender age of 16 in 1970, a naive youth. Reading this book took me to a level of consciousness I could never imagine. The imagery in the writing provided a surreal experience.
I married a 'Lindener' and am grateful to the writer for sharing his experience, reinforcing my thoughts of how fortunate I am to have escaped the political wrangling of the day.
I downloaded and read the book. It was inspiring. Thanks for sharing.
I am telling any and everyone I know about your book, I think it is a great source of inspiration for anyone that would read it. You gave a great historical perspective on the cultural and political climate of Guyana and Mackenzie… say hi to your lovely wife for me...I feel like I know her from your book.
A must read!!!
Conrad has penned a very poignant memoir of an idealistic young Guyanese, who eagerly returns home to participate in the building of his new country and society. He shares with us unexpected encounters of the bad kind - because of his West Point education - with a system of government that has changed from a burgeoning democracy to a repressive, Soviet-style political regime.
This memoir should be a ‘must read’ for all aspiring Guyanese leaders; a text book on how not to treat the citizens of a small country blessed with all the resources nature can provide.
Guyanese in the Diaspora and their foreign born children may also herein discern clues as to why and how such a large percentage of the Guyanese population continues to migrate in search of a more stable and productive lifestyle.
This website urges all its readers to explore the work.
"I really enjoyed this book. The author, Conrad Taylor, was one my classmates at West Point. He and I were in the same New Cadet Company (Beast Barracks) our first summer. Conrad was one of several international students...he was from Guayana (sic). Being from a rural, farming town (population 187), I didn't know exactly where Guayana (sic) was but I WAS pretty sure it wasn't one of the lower, continental United States. I have two distinct memories that involve Conrad that summer:
1. We were standing in line to get vaccinations and he asked me, "What are 'shots?'" I told him he would find out soon enough and try not to flinch since they were using one of those new, air guns. Afterward, as we were hustling back to our barracks, I told him "Welcome to America."
2. About once every two weeks, one person from each squad (8-10 people) would be allowed to make a "boodle" run. (Think candy, cookies, treats, etc.) I was representing my squad and Conrad was representing his squad. I saw him wandering around the "Boodlers." He asked me, "What are 'candy bars?'"
Conrad could have been the only person that summer in greater culture shock than this farm boy from Idaho. He does a terrific job in the book of describing West Point and his transition to a totally different life style. One cute observation he makes is that he really hadn't understood that the "Military" in the US Military Academy indicated he would be undertaking a strict, disciplined, demanding lifestyle. Prior to getting there, he thought he was just going to college on a scholarship.
One touching experience tore at my heart. Like most of us, he was seriously questioning whether or not he had made the right decision during those first 8 weeks. After about a month, we were allowed a little time off and could find a place to call home. Conrad called a neighbor's house (collect) since his parents didn't have a phone. He talked for quite awhile with his mother who listened and tried not to be judgmental. In the book, he tells us that call cost his family two month's of his father's salary! However, it was a turning point for Conrad and he never again thought of leaving. When considered in that light, it was a terrific investment!
This is a wonderful, true story about one person's maturation and ultimately, his escape from a homeland that had become dictatorial. Nicely done, Conrad!"
Conrad Taylor’s story is a poignant first-hand account of the development of irrational infectious paranoia and the moral bankruptcy that it portended. The concurrent exit march and later stampede of Guyana’s investment in training and education gave sobering credence to the chilling experience that was his thwarted attempt to fully contribute to a nation where the reprehensible few have effected the disenchantment of so many.
Path to Freedom: My Story of Perseverance, the first book of African-Guyanese Conrad Taylor, is a memoir of the author’s early life in Guyana up to 1969, when he and his school friend Chaitram Singh won scholarships that took them to study at West Point, the prestigious American military academy in New York. But the two friends’ four-year, West Point interlude, though interesting, is brief, and Path to Freedom soon settles down to provide one of the few, credible, full-length accounts that we so far have of social, political and general living conditions in Guyana, during 1973 to 1977 after Taylor and Singh, against the advice of friends and relatives living in Guyana, returned home from their studies...what makes his memoir so interesting is its candid, straight-talking, slightly hurt tone of an ambitious and patriotic young Guyanese who ventures abroad to acquire skills and expertise that may benefit his country, only to find his good intention blocked at every turn...Despite its wider social/political implications, Path to Freedom remains a narrative of personal experience...Taylor writes lyrically of his fate.
Conrad Taylor's memoir Path to Freedom tells a unique life story that at times is stranger and creepier than fiction. Taylor, one of the two first Guyanese citizens to receive appointments to West Point, returns to Guyana with all of the enthusiasm and idealism that could be expected from a new graduate. But Taylor is greeted by a country he almost no longer recognizes, one sliding toward totalitarianism under the paranoid Prime Minister Forbes Burnham. Taylor's West Point background ironically makes him the target of harassment and surveillance by own country's secret police. Yet that same background is the one that gives him a foundation to persevere, survive, and ultimately triumph - sometimes by "playing along", and sometimes by taking bold steps to chart his own future at considerable risk to him and his family. Taylor often blames himself for misguided optimism in returning to Guyana, but it can be safely stated that most West Pointers would want to similarly step up to enormous challenges to help their country. Unfortunately Taylor's country didn't step up to help him when he needed it the most. A great read and inspiring story.