My February book to read was supposed to be The Power of a Praying Wife. It is more of an every-day-devotional-type book and I tried to do it but it just didn’t fit. It may be that I read it in the future but it is not the right time in my life for me to read it.
So instead I picked this book up. I first heard about this book through a podcast series I have been listening to called Serial. Serial is put out by NPR. Last season (and their first produced), the series followed the case of Adnan Syed, a high school student convicted of killing his then-girlfriend. It is an interesting case because this man is still claiming his innocence ten plus years later and there are fuzzy/conflicting stories about a set time period on the day of the murder.
This season is not over yet. Sarah Koenig (the host of the series) is following Bowe Bergdahl’s case. You may remember that Bowe is the American Army Seargant who walked off his post one night while deployed Afghanistan and was subsequently captured by the Taliban and held in captivity between Afghanistan and Pakistan for five years. Sarah researches, interviews and pieces together his story – why he felt the need to walk off, what his original intentions were, how he feels about the whole situation now, how his friends and family have reacted, what kind of person his platoon remembers him (meaning Bowe) being, how they have felt/still feel about Bowe and what he did etc etc. We are only 8 or so episode in and I can’t wait for the next one to come out!
While Sarah was researching, she came across a man named David Rohde. David was a wartime journalist with the New York Times when he arranged for an interview with a Taliban Commander while in Afghanistan researching for a book he was writing on the Middle East. The meeting was a trap and David, his driver (Asad) and his interpreter (Tahir) were kidnapped and held, mostly in Pakistan, by different members of the Taliban for seven (7) months before Tahir and David escaped and were flown back to the United States with the help of the Pakistani Militia. David and his wife Kristen wrote the above book about his capture and escape – from literally both sides. Every other chapter flips back and forth between a set chuck of time for David – how he was doing, what he was doing, the story of his capture, the politics behind the Taliban, the Haqquini Network, the unspoken agreements between the Taliban operations in Pakistan and the Pakistani militia etc – as well as the same time period for Kristen and everything she was trying to do on the home front to secure David’s release.
The interesting thing about David is that he escaped and made it safely home just two months shy of Bowe Bergdahl leaving his post in Afghanistan. After I listened to the episode with David’s interview and learned he had written a book, I thought to myself that it would be an interesting read – not only because it is the true story of his capture and eventual escape but also that David can and is collaborating many of the details that Bowe has claimed happened to him during his time in captivity – the manipulation, the lying, the undernourishment, the sickness, the constant moving around, the fear of saying or doing something wrong or upsetting to his captors etc.
More so in the beginning of the book, David also explains the politics behind the Taliban and explains a little about the background of the group as well as the ‘pecking order’ so-to-speak of the commanders, the families and networks rankings etc. Sometimes while reading those parts I found it very dry and had to slow down to digest it all but overall, I enjoyed learning about the Taliban – I feel as though this book opened my eyes to something I never really paid much attention to in the past. I had never heard of Bowe Bergdahl before this series (he was captured in 2009 which is the same year I was graduating from a small college in Western New York and I DID NOT watch the news. He was released in early 2014 – during which I was living in Alaska and still not watching the news. Which is kind of weird that I never heard of this until now because Bergdahl was stationed at Fort Richardson in Anchorage Alaska and Fort Richardson is a joint base with Elmendorf Air Force Base where both A. and I were working).
Anyways, I truly enjoyed the book. I am glad I read through the ‘boring’ parts because now I think I have a better understanding of Bowe’s story. I would definitely recommend this book.