Blindfold: A Memoir of Capture, Torture, and Enlightenment

Scribner. Feb. 2021. 400p. ISBN 9781982120825. $27. BIOG
In 2012, while reporting on the Syrian civil war from a Turkish border town, award-winning journalist Padnos was kidnapped by al Qaeda operatives, who kept him captive for nearly two years. This latest book, after Undercover Muslim, recounts how Padnos didn’t realize he was being kidnapped until it was too late—after he struck up a conversation with strangers outside a boardinghouse. This harrowing memoir follows his two-year captivity and torture, including beatings and waterboarding, in makeshift prisons in almost day-by-day detail. In addition to shedding insight into his own fears, especially whether or not he would survive, Padnos also takes care to explore the mindsets of his various captors, some of whom were even sympathetic toward him, while others embraced a complete conviction that they were soldiers of God and that the United States would soon be overthrown. Personal photographs and snippets of stories from other captives, some of whom the author would never see again, add more personal perspectives. Though this isn’t a history of the Syrian civil war, Padnos’s account briefly considers what actions the Obama administration could have taken in the region.
VERDICT An optional purchase for specialized Mideast collections.
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