In 2002, journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded by Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan. His wife, Mariane Pearl, wrote a blistering book about it. I mean, really. That she was able to write a book like this in the aftermath of something like that is astonishing. I’ve been having lots of conversations about human nature lately, and after reading this I’m feeling a bit better and a bit worse about our long-term viability as a species.
There are so many terrible things in this book. That a well-meaning journalist and father-to-be could be abducted and murdered – that such a possibility even exists – is horrifying. And commonplace, because we hear about such things on the news all the time. San Bernardino and Paris are recent examples. Mariane Pearl renders all this tragedy and horror beautifully, with the attention to detail and precision you would expect from a career journalist.
But she also captures the fundamental goodness of all the people who tried to help get her husband back. That’s where this book really shines. From Captain, leader of a Pakistani security team tasked with bringing Daniel back, to her meeting with Laura Bush, then-First Lady of the United States, to her inclusion of a sampling of letters from well-wishers at the end of the book… the overwhelming feeling you end up with is hopefulness. Which is something.
Books read: 9