A ROPE AND A PRAYER by David Rohde


A Kidnapping from Two Sides
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From a New York Times journalist and his wife, a blow-by-blow chronicle of his kidnapping in Afghanistan in November 2008 by the Taliban, his seven months of captivity and eventual escape.

Pursuing an interview with a Taliban commander for a book he was writing about the American effort in Afghanistan, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Rohde made an imprudent arrangement to meet the leader outside of Kabul and was kidnapped, along with an Afghan journalist, Tahir Luddin, and their driver, Asad Mangal. Kidnappings were not uncommon, and in his rush to get a good story, Rohde recognized that he had put Tahir and Asad at a huge risk. Moreover, he was recently married. His wife, photo and fashion editor Mulvihill, took over the ransom negotiations in New York, quietly advised by Rohde’s brother Lee, representatives at the Times, the FBI, an outside security firm (American International Security Corporation) and numerous ex-hostages and their families. In alternating chapters, husband and wife chronicle their parallel ordeals. Rohde and the two other hostages were moved to remote tribal areas in Miran Shah, the so-called Pashtun belt making up the intractable border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban and al-Qaeda maintain their training camps. The men cooked, cleaned and prayed, wiling away the time discussing religion and playing Checkah [sic] with their captors. The couple spoke rarely over carefully monitored phone calls, and the Taliban sent several alarming videos. The kidnappers wanted millions for the hostages, as well as an exchange of prisoners, but no one could agree to terms over the ensuing months. Rohde and Tahir’s escape in June 2009 was truly remarkable and bold, and his unique take on the hard-line Islamist movement provides many astute observations.

A painstakingly reconstructed, harrowing account by a seasoned expert in the region.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-670-02223-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2010


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