The compelling and insightful account of a New York Times reporter's abduction by the Taliban, and his wife's struggle to free him.
Invited to an interview by a Taliban commander, New York Times reporter David Rohde and two Afghan colleagues were kidnapped in November 2008 and spirited to the tribal areas of Pakistan. For the next seven months, they lived in an alternate reality, ruled by jihadists, in which paranoia, conspiracy theories, and shifting alliances abounded. Held in bustling towns, they found that Pakistan's powerful military turned a blind eye to a sprawling Taliban ministate that trained suicide bombers, plotted terrorist attacks, and helped shelter Osama bin Laden.
In New York, David's wife of two months, Kristen Mulvihill, his family, and The New York Times struggled to navigate the labyrinth of issues that confront the relatives of hostages. Their methodical, Western approach made little impact on the complex mix of cruelty, irrationality, and criminality that characterizes the militant Islam espoused by David's captors.
In the end, a stolen piece of rope and a prayer ended the captivity. The experience tested and strengthened Mulvihill and Rohde's relationship and exposed the failures of American effort in the region. The tale of those seven months is at once a love story and a reflection of the great cultural divide-and challenge-of our time.
For a harrowing seven months of captivity, Rohde, a Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times foreign correspondent on assignment in war-torn Afghanistan, survived after being kidnapped, with two Afghan colleagues, by the Taliban in November 2008, suffering from all of the cruel terrorist maneuvering and hapless government countermoves during the crisis. Rohde wrote a series of articles for the Times about his experiences, but here Rohde alternates chapters with Mulvihill, to whom he had been married for two months at the time of his kidnapping. In suspenseful prose, he recounts his abduction and she describes her efforts, along with those of the Times, to secure his release by writing everyone in government and negotiating with the Taliban. Rohde's escape, with one of his colleagues, received major media coverage. Possibly the most informative segments of the book are the masterly observations of life with the jihadists, the chaotic Pakistani tribal areas and the topsy-turvy war itself. This potent story of love and conflict ends well, but not without making some smart and edgy commentary on terrorism, hostage negotiation, political agendas, and the human heart. Map.