Captive: My Time as a Prisoner of the Taliban

Jere Van Dyk, Author . Times $25 (269p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8827-4

An American journalist exploring the war zone on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border reports unwanted lessons in its perils in this harrowing memoir. Having traveled with the “freedom fighters” in the '80s, Van Dyk thought he had the connections and knowledge to navigate the tribal lands between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but he was captured by a fractious band of Taliban fighters in 2008. Van Dyk (In Afghanistan: An American Odyssey ) and his Afghan guides spent 44 days in a dark cell. Well-fed but terrified, he felt a nightmare of helplessness and disorientation. Dependent on a jailer who mixed solicitude with jocular death threats and a ruthless Taliban commander who could free or kill him on a whim, the author performed Muslim prayers in an attempt to appease his captors; wary of murky conspiracies involving his cellmates, he “was afraid of everybody, including the children.” Van Dyk's claustrophobic narrative jettisons journalistic detachment and views his ordeal through the distorting emotions of fear, shame, and self-pity. But in telling his story this way, he brings us viscerally into the mental universe of the Taliban, where paranoia and fanaticism reign, and survival requires currying favor with powerful men. The result is a gripping tale of endurance and a vivid evocation of Afghanistan's grim realities. 1 map. (June 22)

Reviewed on: 04/19/2010
Release date: 06/01/2010
Paperback - 269 pages - 978-0-312-57342-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-4272-1043-2
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4299-4997-2
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