HOSTAGE by David Jacobsen


My Nightmare in Beirut
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 Here, Jacobsen, an American hospital administrator held hostage by the Islamic Jihad for 17 months, details the hell of captivity and questions the good faith of US efforts to free the remaining hostages. Writing with veteran author Astor (The Last Nazi, 1985, etc.), Jacobsen tells of his capture in May 1985 while director of the American Univ. of Beirut's Medical Center, and of his ensuing ordeal: his captors' petty humiliations (false promises of release; constant surveillance, even at the toilet); his frustration when Reagan broadcast a no-negotiation-with-terrorists policy; his terror when an American newscaster's speculation that Jacobsen was encoding secret messages in videotaped statements resulted in a savage beating. And he writes also of what sustained him and his fellow hostages: close friendship (in Jacobsen's case, especially with AP correspondent Terry Anderson, still held hostage after six years), plus faith and twice-daily religious services conducted by a hostage priest and minister. Throughout, Jacobsen questions US hostage and terrorism policies, arguing the urgency of saving the hostages and asserting that many rescue and negotiation options have been and are being ignored. (Released in November 1986 as part of the infamous arms-for-hostages trade with Iran, Jacobsen praises Oliver North and his cohorts for heroism.) The author also condemns the naked villainy of Islamic extremist groups, but fails to examine whether Mideast problems have any roots in US policies. An understandably angry, and effective, polemic/memoir, likely to catch the attention--and maybe even prick the consciences--of D.C. powerbrokers.

Pub Date: Aug. 12th, 1991
ISBN: 1-55611-265-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Donald Fine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1991


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