My Time as a Prisoner of the Taliban
By Jere Van Dyk
(Times Books, Hardcover, 9780805088274, 288pp.)
Publication Date: June 22, 2010
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An American reporter's chilling account of being kidnapped and imprisoned by the Taliban, in the no-man's-land between Afghanistan and Pakistan
Jere Van Dyk was on the wrong side of the border. He and three Afghan guides had crossed into the tribal areas of Pakistan, where no Westerner had ventured for years, hoping to reach the home of a local chieftain by nightfall. But then a dozen armed men in black turbans appeared over the crest of a hill.
Captive is Van Dyk's searing account of his forty-five days in a Taliban prison, and it is gripping and terrifying in the tradition of the best prison literature. The main action takes place in a single room, cut off from the outside world, where Van Dyk feels he can trust nobody—not his jailers, not his guides (who he fears may have betrayed him), and certainly not the charismatic Taliban leader whose fleeting appearances carry the hope of redemption as well as the prospect of immediate, violent death.
Van Dyk went to the tribal areas to investigate the challenges facing America there. His story is of a deeper, more personal challenge, an unforgettable tale of human endurance.
Jere Van Dyk is the author of In Afghanistan: An American Odyssey, an account of his travels with the mujahideen in the 1980s, during their struggle against the Soviet Union. Since then, he has covered stories all over the world, mainly for The New York Times, CBS News, and National Geographic, that have required him to visit places where few Western reporters had ventured before. He lives in New York City.
In 2008, Jere Van Dyk set off from Kabul to write the authoritative book on the Taliban. That February, he became the second American journalist to be captured by the Taliban. In Captive, he tells his story. More at NPR.org
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“If you want to read an amazing book, check out Captive, by Jere Van Dyk. . . . What this reporter lived through is, I think, pretty much the most frightening thing a journalist could be subjected to. He wrote a phenomenal book about it that I consumed in about a day. Please read it.”--Sebastian Junger, author of War
“Rich and revealing. . . . Offers a rare and complicated portrait of the Taliban mentality seen through discerning Western eyes.”--The Washington Post
“A vivid portrait of a man under stress and pressure, producing the equivalent of war’s high tension and terror. . . . Some of [Van Dyk’s] passages inevitably will become part of the canon.”--The Boston Globe
“A gripping tale of endurance and a vivid evocation of Afghanistan's grim realities.”--Publishers Weekly
“A harrowing survival story.”--Kirkus Reviews