An affecting first-person account of the ordeal endured by one of the most celebrated casualties of the Persian Gulf War. Five days after Desert Shield became Desert Storm, Simon (CBS- TV's chief Mideast correspondent) and his three-man crew were taken captive by an Iraqi patrol on the wrong side of the unmarked Saudi Arabia/Kuwait border, where they had driven in search of news not screened by military censors. The author's ill-advised enterprise earned him and his associates a hellish 40-day hegira that took them from field detention to a couple of stygian lockups in Baghdad, one of which was bombed by the allied coalition. Constantly blindfolded, beaten, and branded a spy, Simon lived in fear that Saddam's interrogators would discover he was a Bronx-born Jew based in Tel Aviv, not a Protestant working out of N.Y.C. as his press credentials stated. To keep his sanity as a no-name prisoner in solitary confinement, Simon reflected on past assignments (which had taken him to Lebanon, the Philippines, Vietnam, and other strife-torn venues), friends, family, colleagues, and food, albeit not necessarily in that order. Though he considered suicide only once, early in his Kafkaesque trial, the author was ever drawn to dwell on death. Once released, Simon appreciated the irony of a journalist's being the subject of a major media story and of his own obituary (providently prepared by CBS and narrated by Dan Rather). Recalled with less relish, though, are the deep emotional wounds and nagging physical debilities he suffered while in Iraqi hands. The involving testament of a man who's been to the brink and learned that the abyss does indeed stare back.
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