The three American hikers imprisoned in Iran in 2009 alternate relaying their versions of their scary, uncertain ordeal.
Trekking up a mountain in northern Iraqi Kurdistanm, the three 20-something Americans working in the Middle East as journalists and teachers wandered across the Iranian border and were thrown into prison, suspected of espionage. The two young men, friends Bauer and Fattal, were held for two years. Shourd, Bauer’s fiancee, was released after a year, and she employed her notoriety to get the others out. Indeed, they became convenient pawns in the ongoing political enmity between the United States and Iran, used to apply pressure where needed in discussing sanctions and nuclear arsenals. In their well-developed and detailed accounts, told in alternate first-person voices, the three remind the world how human, vulnerable and terribly isolated they were during their months of incarceration, when they knew little of what was going on in the outside world and existed day by day in an entrenched survival mode. Shuttled around blindfolded, with Shourd wearing hijab, they started several hunger strikes at first when the guards separated them and soon were transported to the dreaded Evin Prison in Tehran. Managing the guards was key, as was learning to stand up for themselves in terms of the small liberties they were allowed, such as spending a precious few hours together daily in the courtyard. Shourd endured solitary since she wasn’t allowed to mix with Iranians, while the two men roomed with each other and devised all kinds of mental-exercise games—e.g., studying Morse code and memorizing poetry. As a Jew, Fattal became more religiously observant in jail, and all three studied the Quran. All were critical of American government policy before their incarceration and emerged from their ordeal unbowed and outspoken.
An unsugared account that demonstrates the admirable, unbreakable bond of friends, parents and countrymen.