This book was one that I picked to review through Book Sneeze and honestly- it's been sitting on my desk for awhile. I was hesitant to actually read it because if you remember correctly, I don't like the kidnapped thing because hello- it's probably the biggest fear of mine.
So this weekend I settled in to start this and I could NOT put it down. It's a true story of an American who, while working in Iraq as a contractor, was kidnapped and tortured by Iraqi insurgents and held for over 300 days. 300 days, people. Imagine being blindfolded, rationing out small portions of mostly rotted food for a every three day span (if you were lucky), being beaten, having to make videos to plea for your life, and little to no communication with other hostages for over 300 days. If that isn't a description of hell I don't know what would be.
What I really enjoyed about this book (well there were several) was that through the whole thing, Roy had a sense of humor. His extensive military training (he was retired from the military but knew if his captors knew that he'd be dead) probably helped him quite a bit. He seemed level headed enough to be able to take mental notes of everything, to keep track of time by paying attention to the Islamic prayers he heard, and was smart enough to figure out what he should/shouldn't do to make it out of there alive.
I will confess right here and now that I don't pay attention to the news coverage. I know this may seem idealic and naive, but to me, I know it's something I can't fix. Me watching the constant barrage of news coverage is not going to make a difference. And because I don't watch it- I really have no clue about the war, why there is a war, why people are kidnapped, etc. This book really enlightened me. Am I going to watch the news now? Probably not. Am I going to click on a news link about hostages? Yes. I most likely will. Because I can't even imagine what that is like.
What also surprised me was how really unintelligent these people are (meaning the kidnappers and radical groups). I mean one could argue that they have some intelligence if they are kidnapping people in the hopes for ransom payouts in order to fund their insurgency. Sure. I'd give you that. Two points crazy people. BUT, the book really highlighted that despite what you see/read on the news, they are highly unorganized. They couldn't find their ass from their elbow. And despite all of this- it leaves me baffled that the United States, supposedly this really smart (debatable) and powerful country can't beat them. What gives?!
The other thing that I know is probably more true than we'd like is how uncooperative the US Government was to Roy Hallums' family. Really, FBI? You can't just give them an update? You can't just say, "We have no fucking clue where he is. Sorry" ?? I'm probably going to get red flagged but I'm sorry. I just think there needs to be a little more bedside manner instead of all of the red tape.
It was a good book. I really enjoyed it and I recommend anyone to read it. I think the most heartbreaking line in the whole book was Roy describing that since the war began, 50 American contractors have been kidnapped. He was the only one rescued.
SO--- anyone who wants this book, please leave me a comment with your email address and I will put your name into a drawing. Winners announced this Friday, March 5. :)