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A New York Times bestseller!
In 2006, twenty-seven-year-old Jessica Buchanan stepped off a plane in Nairobi, Kenya, with a teaching degree and long-held dreams of helping to educate African children. By 2009, she had met and married a native Swede named Erik Landemalm, who worked to coordinate humanitarian aid with authorities in Africa. Together the two moved from Nairobi to Somalia, and with hopes of starting a family, their future couldn’t have been brighter. . . .
But on October 25, 2011, Jessica and a colleague were kidnapped at gunpoint and held for ransom by a band of Somali pirates. For the next three months, Jessica was terrorized by more than two dozen gangsters, held outdoors in filthy conditions, and kept on a starvation diet while her health steadily deteriorated. Negotiations for ransom dragged on, and as the ordeal stretched into its third month, the captors grew increasingly impatient. Every terrifying moment Jessica Buchanan spent suffering in captivity was matched by that of her adoring husband working behind the scenes to deal with her captors. After ninety-three days of fruitless negotiations, and with Jessica’s medical state becoming a life-or-death issue, President Barack Obama ordered Navy SEAL Team Six to attempt a rescue operation. On January 25, 2012, just before the president delivered his State of the Union speech, the team of twenty-four SEALs, under the cover of darkness, attacked the heavily armed hostiles. They killed all nine with no harm to the hostages, who were quickly airlifted out on a military rescue helicopter.
In riveting detail, this book chronicles Jessica and Erik’s mutual journey during those torturous months. Together they relate the events prior to the kidnapping, the drama of Jessica’s fight to stay alive, and Erik’s efforts to bolster and support the hunt for her while he acted as liaison between their two families, the FBI, professional hostage negotiators, and the United States government. Both a testament to two people’s courage and a nail-biting look at a life-or-death struggle, this is a harrowing and deeply personal story about their triumph over impossible odds.
Buchanan and husband Landemalm provide perspective and detail of theher real-life and recent kidnapping. In the fall of 2011, 32-year-old Jessica Buchanan, an American working for an NGO in Somalia, was preparing to travel to a training session near the Somalia border in an area controlled by Islamists. All went smoothly until October 25, when Jessica and her Dutch colleague began their trip home and were kidnapped by extremists. And so began an ordeal that dragged on for 3 months and left Buchanan near death. The story is retold through an awkward mix of Jessica's first person accounts, third person narratives that include her husband's story and flashbacks. The use of third person narrative to describe Erik and Jessica's joyful reunion is a prime example of how the book's craft dulls down its subject matter. The story is dramatic on its own but its retelling suffers from overwritten prose yet rarely imparts the depths of despair that Jessica felt. As a result, the eventual rescue following months of negotiations, espionage, and planning by the FBI and a SEAL team is oddly anticlimactic. While Buchanan's experience was most certainly a horrifying and life-changing event, it's nearly impossible to get that story from this book.