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Will anyone in Colombia buy Ingrid Betancourt's new book?

Today's release of Ingrid Betancourt's book, 'Even Silence has an End,' about her six years in captivity in a guerrilla camp, was marked by calls to boycott her memoir.

A bookseller displays copies of "No hay silencio que no termine" (Even Silence has an End) by Colombian-French citizen Ingrid Betancourt in a bookstore in Bogota on Sept. 21.

Fredy Builes/Reuters

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Former rebel hostage Ingrid Betancourt launched her book “Even Silence has an End” Tuesday in six languages and 14 countries. Even before it hit bookshelves, it had already caused controversy here amid outrage over her multimillion-dollar demand for damages from the Colombian state.

Fernando Osa, manager of the Librería Nacional bookstore chain, says that when news of Ms. Betancourt’s demand emerged in July, he polled his customers on the bookstore’s website about whether they would buy her book once it was published.

“Eighty-nine percent said they wouldn’t,” he says. “With such an overwhelming rejection, I cut back my order of copies.”

But while many Colombians have vowed to boycott the new book, Betancourt's literary style, gripping accounts of her life in jungle prisons, and profound reflections on the human condition may end up enticing many. After six years in captivity, she was rescued in a military sting operation in 2008 along with 14 other hostages.

“It is exceptionally well written and by far the best of all the books by former hostages,” says Mr. Osa, who after reading the book decided to increase orders from the publisher. The response has been great, he says. Hours after it went on sale today, he had sold 50 copies in just one store.

More than about Betancourt herself, he says, “It is a book about evil.”

It begins with a harrowing account of one of her escape attempts: The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) recapture her, place a chain around her neck, and beat and sexually abuse her. “I felt like a victim of an assault, amid convulsions, as if I were inside a high-speed train. My body and my heart stayed frozen during the brief moment of eternity,” she writes.


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