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No Paved Road to Freedom by Sharon Rushton is a gripping page-turner about one man’s quest for freedom against overwhelming odds. It is an inspirational story about a remarkable man who gave up everything (family, career, fiancée) to escape the horrors of communism. Sharon’s book is also a cautionary tale of what governments can do in the guise of “helping” their people. … Sharon’s story brings the horrors of the purges down to the individual and family level. It is a remarkable and powerful book. … Sharon Rushton’s book should be widely read. It is a reminder of how easy our life is, but how fragile and precious our freedoms are.  Either the soft tyranny of the welfare state or the hard tyranny of communism erode freedom and take away initiative. This would be a particularly instructive book for high school students; it would be a revelation for them.
Weymouth Symmes, Military Writers Society of America (MWSA)
MWSA selected No Paved Road To Freedom as its Book of the Month for February 2012

A touching story intertwined with a brief love affair right before his escape from a border town of Romania, this book pictures in a Hollywood style narrative the struggle of a young man who wants to do better for himself and succeeds in doing that by working hard at it, never giving up his dream, and is to this day an inspiration to us all.
Sebastian Rus, Editor at RadioDiasporaONLINE

No Paved Road to Freedom, under the skilled hand of author Sharon Rushton, shows us how the basic need for freedom is woven into every thread of human life. When that freedom is taken away one thread at a time, life becomes unbearable. Readers will taste the fear and the oppression that Cornel and his family endured. The author creates suspense and zeroes in on the emotional costs of lives torn apart. No Paved Road to Freedom inspires and teaches as it explores the human spirit. I strongly recommend it to everyone and as required reading for high school students across the free world.
Pat McGrath Avery, Kansas City Books Examiner

Timely. With roots that run deep into the outdoor world this talented lady has authored a timely book that everyone in America should read and heed. The story of Cornel Dolana and the oppression of his family and fellow countrymen should be an inspirational message to everyone, and a warning of what might happen if we stray too far from our own roots.
Mike Giles, The Meridian Star

Required Reading for All. More than two decades after the Romanian Revolution, a part of history and memory of those who managed to flee the communist camp is preserved for posterity in this excellent book written in English by Sharon Rushton. The book is written in a style that arouses curiosity and continuously maintains the reader. What is great about the book is the fact that many more people can read what life was like during communism. No Paved Road To freedom is not just a real delight, but a book of remembrance that was the communist period, a necessary and compulsory reading for all of us.
Marian Petruta, Romanian Journalist
North American Romanian Press Association
Romania – USA
De Colorado Gandaculde


Call me stupid, but I would have never known about communist Romania until I read about it in this book. I am sure it is public knowledge, and I may have even learned something about it in school, but I just don't recall. This book is very intriguing, and once you start reading, you cannot put it down. The story is told so well, and you will become awe inspired by the journey of this one man. The courage one human being can have is truly amazing. This book is a story, a reality, a truth! A must read!
Haley Kolb, Hanging Off The Wire Blog

General Readers

"The story left a deep impression on me. Anyone I know who thought their life was difficult needs to read this."
Debbie Burbank

It captures your attention from the beginning, and draws you in so that Cornel's quest for freedom becomes your own. It is completely riveting!
Rae Ann Goemaat

I had the opportunity to talk with Cornel last week when he autographed my book.  I felt very close to him the whole time we talked. I left feeling very BLESSED to have been born in a free AMERICA.  I will cherish the chance meeting.  As many others I couldn't put the book down.  The tears streamed down my face as I read the imprisonments he endured.  I couldn't imagine the life he had as a child after communism changed the world as he knew it.  What strength and perseverance God gave this man!  No one can begin to understand what freedom is until you don't have it!  That's what he said to me. It made me realize how much we take for granted!   Thank you Cornel for sharing a painful story with the whole world.  May God always bless you.
Kathy Thomas

Very well written.  We take so much for granted here in the USA.  As I was reading the book I would compare the dates in his travels, etc. to what I was doing at the time of my life....never realizing the suffering of him and his family.  I/we are so blessed.

I have been a friend of Cornel for over 40 years and now understand the horrific time he endured to reach freedom. A true American who loves his new country.
Bruce Hird

I loved the book. My entire family are Lithuanian refugees. Although relocating and leaving their country was hard, they never experienced what the Romanian's endured. I was shocked at the treatment. So glad I read this important piece of history. Great writing about a story that needed to be told.
Helen Hahn

Freedom is everything! Reading this wonderful book, I was suffering and feeling sorry for Cornel Dolana and his family. That made me think about how blessed I am for being born in a free country (Brazil) and now living in another great country (Canada). It is incredible to realize that even now, in the 21 century, lots of people in this huge world still struggle to have freedom and a better life. Last year, in a trip to East Europe, we could see in Croatia, Hungary and Czech Republic the scars of the communism still hurting those nations, like ghosts above peoples heads and minds, but things are getting better every day, because they are strong, and as did Cornel, they don’t give up their dreams.
Jane Thede

I was just captured by the story. I was unable to put the book down and even woke up during the night to read a bit more. I was with Cornel all the way and I must admit that I hardly did any housework or cooking for two days.............I just HAD to finish the book. I felt the cold, the hunger, the misery that he endured, and the happiness that he enjoyed ( oh, DID he ever? ) when his dreams were realized. I am so grateful that I was able to read of his journey to freedom. I enjoyed the book so much, and I truly want to thank you for bringing his story to all of us who have always been so lucky (I call it BLESSED) to live in the greatest country in the world.   
Kate Delle

Reading about an account of this man’s life puts a new meaning to our freedom in the United States of America. Each attempt he made at escaping had me terrified for his life and frustrated and sad for the setbacks and cruelty he endured.
Shirley Williams

Exciting and sad. This story is an emotional journey that defines the human spirit and redefines determination. It left one exhausted and should lead every American to count their blessings. I couldn’t put it down.
Alvin Bracey

Once I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down.  There were many times I cried for Cornel as he suffered through his journey to freedom.  I can see this story becoming a great movie.
Donald Reach

This story of heroic feats and surreal struggles for ones freedom seems too amazing to be true. Such an awesome book. I couldn’t put it down.
Christy Abbatello

It reads so much like a novel that I shiver when I remember it’s a true story.   Lisa Snuggs

After reading this book I was amazed at my father’s determination to have freedom in his life.  This book is a must read.  Once I began reading this book, I found it difficult to put down.  I couldn’t believe the courage my father had and the risk he took to make a better life for himself.  How fortunate and proud I feel, to have a father that was so brave and determined and such a devoted man to his family and many friends.
Danielle Pierpont

College and University Professors

This gripping account of a young man's escape from Communist Romania has so many switch-backs, you'll have to hold on tight. The young Cornel determines to get to a free country or die trying.  Despite careful, cunning planning, the wrenching events of the long run to a new life make clear that the gulf between freedom and death is more terrifying than anyone so young could have imagined.
Jan Simpson
Yale Writing Center

A gripping and emotional tale of human frailty and perseverance and endurance under totalitarian repression, Rushton's book captures like no other the essence of Romanian Stalinism and the remarkable courage of a peasant family. The story of young Cornel Dolana and his relentless quest for freedom, is an inspiration for us all.
Lavinia Stan, PhD
Director, Center for Post-Communist Studies
St. Francis Xavier University, Canada

Cornel Dolana's story reminds us that freedom is precious. His example makes it difficult for contemporary readers to take the fruits of our liberty for granted. This is a gripping tale told by a skilled and sensitive writer.
Andrew R. Cline, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Journalism,
Missouri State University

Spell binding saga. I would like to see state boards of education adopt this book as required reading.
Jane McCasland, Ph.D.

A remarkable story of a very colorful guy. Cornel’s ingenuity and determination kept me turning the pages.
Satish Dhawan, Senior Scientist, Yale University

Reviews From the Web


High School Teachers and Librarians

A page turner that humanizes the struggle of communist occupation in Romania. I couldn’t put it down. It would be an outstanding resource to augment modern world history for high school students.
Nanette D. Stark, High School English and History Teacher


No Paved Road To Freedom is an amazing story and beautifully written by Rushton—a gifted writer and storyteller. My passion for freedom (which has always been strong) is rekindled after reading Cornel’s story. I am reminded of how easily regimes with an agenda “for the good of all” can take assets, livelihoods, and yes, even lives as they squash the intelligent and the freedom-loving. Before long, the average person risks imprisonment, torture and death to buck the system.
Kristine Houtman, Author, Fish On Kids Books Series

“This is a great story of heroism, endurance, and fortitude.”
Dan Thompson, Author, Caron Brannan – Bound Boy of Belfast

I have heard about "Communism" all of my life. However I never truly understood what it was, or what it meant to people, until now.
Richard Simms, Author, Outdoor State of Mind

This fact based story offers more human drama and adventure than any fiction novel could equal. The writer offers an inside view of the workings of how a country can be slowly overpowered by political pressure and control. Rushton reveals how human determination can overcome overwhelming odds to survive and read freedom.  History students could learn a great deal from this book.  
Zona Crabtree, Author, Corn Cave Series

"No Paved Road to Freedom" is a fantastic adventure story but unlike so many that threaten to overwhelm us in recent years with invented creatures from outer space, centuries past, or atomic or chemical disasters, this one is all too real, The monsters are not vampires, dragons or werewolves but diabolical officials determined to keep all of their countrymen in one form of bondage or another. Anyone who dares to follow their own dreams and do anything as daring as simply reading a prohibited book is thrown into prison, no questions asked. It is an unimaginable world, to most raised in America, where only the bravest of the brave have the strength of character to find a way out. Cornel Dolana is one of those rare individuals in post World War II Romania. His personal quest to fight his way to freedom makes for a page-turning account of courage and determination that shares a love of freedom that will not die as long as this young man can still draw a breath. "No Paved Road to Freedom" is an incredibly engrossing tale for anyone but one that should be studied by every person in America today, to remind us all of what a great gift we receive from the first day we are born! Thank you, Sharon Rushton and Cornel Dolana for that important life lesson.
Laura L. Valenti, Author,
"Between the Star and the Cross"
"Ozark Meth: A Journey of Destruction and Deliverance"