Saturday, December 28, 2013

The World's Most Dangerous Places

Amanda Lindhout ( must be an extraordinary young woman. As a cocktail waitress in Calgary, Alberta she saved her money to travel. And not just anywhere--to places like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and Syria, some of the most dangerous places in the world.

With no university degree, very little journalistic experience and scant knowledge of the countries or their languages, she secured employment as a journalist in Afghanistan and Iraq. The latter was a full-time gig as a television reporter for an Iranian news service.

Then things got really interesting. Along with a male friend, she travelled to Somalia, widely known as a failed state and the haunt of pirates. At that point her luck ran out. She and her friend were kidnapped and held for ransom for more than a year.

In "A House in the Sky," she recounts their harrowing experiences. The book is written with a more experienced writer, but it is still an amazing achievement. Her experiences included numerous beatings and rapes, starvation, being kept in total darkness in rat-infested rooms, and being deliberately tortured nearly to death. Through most of her ordeal, she was able to see the beauty in her bleak surroundings, and to retain her dignity.

She and her fellow kidnap victim converted to Islam, but that did little to better their situation. Eventually they were freed when their families came up with some $600,000 to pay the kidnappers and negotiators.

Despite her sufferings, Lindhout managed to forgive her kidnappers, whom she came to see as fellow victims in a desperate corner of the world. She is back in Canada now and has started a charity to assist education in Somalia and Kenya. She has had to undergo extensive medical and psychological treatment, but has not lost her hope.

If you are looking for a page-turner that is also a true story, I can recommend this book highly. It may make you think twice about travelling to dangerous areas, however.


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