Syria’s bloody civil war swallows up an intrepid French-American photojournalist secretly struggling with his own ambivalence about the seductive nature of conflict and violence.
In 2013, at various points in his 81 days of captivity at the hands of a ragtag force bent on toppling President Bashar al-Assad, Alpeyrie alternately found himself fantasizing about fighting his kidnappers and dashing for the hills at the earliest possible opportunity. There were also those times when he longed for the chance to sit and watch Arab variety shows with his tormenters. That the author wound up on Facebook at the conclusion of his punishing ordeal, curious about the welfare of the same gunmen who terrorized him for almost three month highlights the depths of inner turmoil roiling inside the veteran photographer. It was Stockholm syndrome coupled with a journalist’s heightened ability to recognize all angles of an evolving story. Alpeyrie’s often harrowing biographical tale is split between his time in Syrian captivity and his life immediately after a hefty ransom was paid for his release. Like many who have come before him, the author’s dance with death left him yearning for even more dangerous adventures. Readers hoping for special insight into the geopolitical issues involved in the Syrian War will come away disappointed, as Alpeyrie views the ongoing carnage in the Middle East as a sort of inscrutable mess. “From a wide-angle perspective,” he writes, “this whole Syrian War struck me as a historical clusterfuck that could even help set off some global Armageddon.” What the author does offer is a chilling tale about how he managed to win the fragile esteem of his captors while simultaneously keeping his fried nerves from completely shorting out, as well as his personal take on armed conflict and global jihad.
A gripping account of life in captivity and humankind’s ongoing relationship to war.