If hostage Richard Queen had not been released early for treatment of a neurological disorder (soon diagnosed as multiple...


INSIDE AND OUT: Hostage to Iran, Hostage to Myself

If hostage Richard Queen had not been released early for treatment of a neurological disorder (soon diagnosed as multiple sclerosis), it's a fair bet that we wouldn't have this utterly bland book. But in clip-clopping along from banality to clichÉ to stereotype (per the tribute to ""the undefeated spirit of an American woman""), Queen comes close to echoing the national mood: it did mean everything to him to learn, from a clergyman that First Christmas, that ""All of America is praying for you."" Or, to receive weekly copies of Sporting News--""air-mail, special delivery""--from its mighty publisher. And his very guilelessness is a kind of confirmation--sometimes, of more than he may intend. At 28, he had just entered the Foreign Service; his assignment to Teheran--as a nonimmigrant (student) interviewing officer--was his first tour. ""I really found interviewing those students awful,"" he writes (not, for once, sounding ghosted); and you understand why the hysterics and proffered bribes of those denied visas got to him. Captured and trussed up, without fresh clothes or showers--""My mind jumped from one gloomy precipice to the next until I saw myself--and all of us ragged, dirty figures--unfit to return to society."" In dank, underground ""Mushroom Inn,"" he gets hold of his favorite giant Civil War Game--and though the 32-page rule book scares everyone else off, he pitches in (consoled, also, by now having one of his own 24 pipes). The book's peak moment is not his release--months after the onset of his illness, which he appears to have accepted stoically--but removal of the ban on talking: now, he and roommate Jim--gabbling and gasping with laughter--can hold a ""con-ver-sa-tion."" Yes, he hated one of the militants (but generally he speaks of them no more disparagingly than other Iranians). No, he didn't refuse to sign a petition for the Shah's return (""But I told him I knew the United States wouldn't send the Shah back""). Overall, Queen substantiates the impressions conveyed in the McFadden et al. No Hiding Place (above). But this is much less the story of a historic captivity than the story of one boyish American captive--for readers to make of what they will.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1981