By David Rohde

The compelling and insightful account of a New York Times reporter's abduction by way of the Taliban, and his wife's fight to loose him.

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Extra info for A Rope and a Prayer: A Kidnapping from Two Sides

Sample text

I don’t know any Abu Tayyeb,” he says. ” The first hints of panic creep into my mind, but I try to rationalize what is happening. The gunmen could be thieves or members of another Taliban faction. I know that what Americans call the Taliban is really a loose alliance of local commanders who often operate independently of one another. “Taliban”—Pashto for “students”—is a label of convenience that disenfranchised villagers, hardened Islamists, and criminals all use. In an ominous sign, we turn left off the main asphalt road onto a dirt track.

In the large cities and towns, an educated Pashtun elite generally supported modernization of the country. In “Little America” of the 1960s and 1970s, educated Pashtun moderates dominated. During Christmas and Ramadan in Lashkar Gah, Pashtuns and Americans invited one another to each other’s homes to celebrate their respective religious holidays. Americans who worked in Lashkar Gah at the time told me Pashtuns were shockingly poor and isolated, yet dignified, generous, and welcoming. David Champagne, a Peace Corps volunteer from Chicago, taught English at the high school in Lashkar Gah from 1968 to 1971.

A hand pushes me back toward the car. I am forced to lie down on the backseat. Two gunmen get in and slam the doors shut. The car lurches forward. Tahir and Asad are gone and, I think, probably dead. As we drive away, Taliban prayers blare out from the radio and my captors laugh with glee. They are clearly elated to have an American captive. I try again. ” In response, the guard sitting in the backseat beside me pats me on the shoulder and says a phrase in Pashto that includes the word for American.

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