My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me

Mahvish Rukhsana Khan, Author PublicAffairs $25.95 (302p) ISBN 978-1-58648-498-9
In her moving debut memoir, a young journalist recounts her time as a translator for the detainees of notorious Guantanamo Bay prison. As a law student and American-born daughter of Pashtun (ethnic Afghan) immigrants, Khan seeks a translator position at one of the private law firms that represent the Guantanamo inmates, some of whom spend years in prison before offered a ""fair"" trial-or even access to counsel. Shockingly, many of the detainees Khan encounters are average citizens placed in prison due to unfortunate circumstances, the blind aggression of modern anti-terror tactics and the incompetence of its enforcers; one detainee, elderly stroke patient Nusrat, was detained after questioning the authorities regarding the arrest of his son (accused of having ties with al-Qaeda). Revealing near-universal abuse, both mental and physical, inflicted on the prisoners, Khan's account is plenty powerful-and that's before she travels alone to war-torn Afghanistan in order to prove her clients' innocence. Khan also divulges her poignant reunions with several prisoners following their release, a bittersweet breath of fresh air amid a nightmarish, eye-opening and important account.
Reviewed on: 06/23/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
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