There are very few terms that can illicit fear in the global audience. One of these is "taliban". World renowned for their violence and oppression, the fear and yet respect of this terror group is common. Their presence in the Middle East, particularly their stronghold in Afghanistan has created some of the lowest points of the general war on terror and has provided some of the most patriotic moments of good beating evil and the American hero. Combine the terror of the Taliban, the American pride in its Seal Team Six, and the heart of serving the oppressed and you have the gripping story of Dr. Dilip Joseph and his experience outside of Kabul. Kidnapped by the Taliban is Joseph's account of his harrowing days as a prisoner of the dreaded terrorists, the unexpected unifiers of the human spirit, and the dramatic rescue by true American Heroes.
Serving the underserved communities outside Kabul, Dr. Joseph spent months of his career hands on training workers, professionals, and residents in basic medical care and nutrition. With his heart torn between the family he loved back home on U.S. soil and his care for a people he had grown to love, Dr. Joseph was wrapping up a series of community visits when he and two friends were ambushed and subsequently kidnapped by members of the Taliban. Held for ransom, the three men spent days wondering the rural outskirts of the Kabul mountains waiting for their fate to be revealed. In the end, it was not a ransom payment, but a dramatic mid night rescue by the same team of Navy Seals who had infamously killed the face of terror itself- Osama Bin Ladin- only months earlier.
I was gripped, page by page of this amazing account. While a fast read, Joseph and his writing partner James Lund, perfectly describe the mysterious terrain and its people with great detail. The novel keeps the focus on the story the title promises. Joseph's memories come alive as his many encounters of death's doorstep. The story unfolds through simple recollections of bathroom excursions in the wilderness, strange meetings with rural communities, and unexpected conversations with men holding machine guns.
It was this last point that makes this tale more than a Dateline special. It is the heartbeat of a country and people group that the world really does not fully understand. Dr. Joseph's conversations of family, technology, life, death, food, manners, and the human nature with his apparent evil captors peel away the layers of mystery and judgment and point to the reality of the heart of people. Men, trapped by the order and knowledge that they are going to die by suicide bombing in a week suddenly appear less evil and more sad. The terror of men holding machine guns intended to end a life seem less threatening as they willingly share food, water, and tea with their kidnapped ransoms. What made this story so gripping for me was getting a glimpse into a world that is so well feared but really not well known. Joseph and Lund do a fantastic job in bringing in humanity with a story that appears so inhumane.
My only wish for the novel was to have read a more in-depth analysis of the after affects of being kidnapped by the Taliban. For as honest and frank as the story was presented during the event, the after affects seem glazed over. Perhaps the nature of his rescue and the involvement of the government prevents a more open dialogue, but as a reader I feel I too quickly was transported from the harrowing and emotional rescue to a life perfectly built back at home with a heart longing to return to Afghanistan. Perhaps as time goes on, Joseph and Lund will be able to add to the epilogue.
Overall, this story is one worth spending an afternoon or two being engrossed in. Take time to read the harrowing, yet redeeming story of Kidnapped by the Taliban.
*I received a free copy a novel from BookLookBloggers in return for my honest review