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Impossible Odds: The Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and Her Dramatic Rescue by SEAL Team Six Hardcover – May 14, 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 394 customer reviews

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Author Q&A with Jessica Buchanan

Jessica Buchanan

Q. The descriptions of both Jessica’s captivity and Erik’s ordeal waiting are so vivid. Was it difficult to revisit that point in your lives?

It was difficult to revisit such traumatic incidents in our lives, but we also found the process incredibly therapeutic in some ways. We felt fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a fantastic writer such as Anthony Flacco, and in doing so, Erik and I soon discovered, that through the writing process, we were able to have conversations with each other that maybe we never would have had before. The hardest things to do, are often the most healing and healthy things, in the long run.

The writing process for Impossible Odds was a bit unconventional—as Anthony remained in Seattle writing, and Erik and I were still living in Nairobi during the writing of the book. I was too far along in my pregnancy to travel, so we decided the only way to move forward on our collaboration was to talk over video Skype. Throughout power outages, Internet connections going down, and an 11-hour time difference (as well as a brand new baby!) The three of us somehow were able to connect and lay to paper detail upon detail, of our lives, the kidnapping and captivity, as well as the rescue. It was difficult to stir up all those memories, but Anthony was so kind, intuitive and understanding, we both found ourselves looking forward to our sessions with him. We found that we were able to process through all the past events in a safe environment with Anthony. He was committed with us, to produce a technically accurate and emotional account of our experience. We couldn’t have asked for a more sensitive and respectful writer to work with.

Q. What made you decide to write Impossible Odds? And, why now?

When I first came out of captivity, so many people were encouraging me to record and relay the experiences I had been through—but I knew it was not the right time for me. I knew that I would know when the time was right, if it was ever right, to share my story. Our main objective in writing Impossible Odds was to relay our gratitude to those involved in securing my freedom, and also to friends and family all around the world. As for the time frame—I can’t explain it, other than that I knew it was the right time.

Q. What do you hope readers take away from Impossible Odds?

Our hope for readers who read Impossible Odds is that they will be inspired to help those in need, and also to be reminded that the human spirit is impenetrable—we are so strong, capable and possess such fortitude, no matter what our situations we may be experiencing. It’s our responsibility to pass on the message that no matter what kind of impossible situation you may be facing, there is help along the way.

Through this experience, I learned that the human spirit is indeed indomitable. It’s amazing how you can manage to find strength in such small happenings, no matter how hopeless your situation may seem—you just have to choose to look for them. Every night, before I would go to sleep, I would try to list five good things from that day. Oftentimes more than not, it was an extreme challenge to find something good, but it gave me something to do. My colleague often said “Optimism is what makes us sleep at night.” And I added to the thought that “Negativity keeps us up at night.” So we needed to stay positive, hopeful, and above all else, without despair.

To those who find themselves in a hopeless situation, I encourage you to remain hopeful in something. When you need it the most, life, God, love, will give you that extra measure of strength to dig a little deeper, even when you feel you are completely empty of any resources or hope. You will be surprised to find that you are able to scrape out just enough to get through that day. It may not be more than enough—but just enough has got to be ok, and as I have experienced day after day after day—just enough will do just fine.


"The book is spellbinding. Fiction cannot come close to the reality of Impossible Odds. The story provides a compelling combination of horror and fascination, written with clarity and compassion." (NY Journal of Books)

“Inspiring…a cinematic sense of drama.” (Bookreporter)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Edition edition (May 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476725160
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476725161
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (394 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is even better than the media coverage that has surrounded it recently--it is well-written, VERY suspenseful, and dramatic. It is told from the point-of-views of both Jessica Buchanan (an aid worker in Somalia who was held captive by rogue Somali kidnappers) and her husband Erik Landemalm (who also worked to aid the people of Africa). Jessica was working to protect the people of Somalia when she was abducted; the work she was doing was nonpolitical and nonreligious. The reader shares in the experience by imagining what it would have been like to have been held hostage in primitive conditions as well as what it was like for the family members of the captives to languish and negotiate for her release for months. There is also quite a bit in the book--fascinating--regarding the amazing SEAL fighters who rescued Jessica.

An older Danish male colleague of Jessica's, Poul Thisted, was also held captive at the same time. He said that he felt lucky to have been held with an American citizen and attributes his rescue to this fact. Their family members could tell no one to protect the victims and to keep the kidnappers from learning vital information. The conditions of the captivity were arduous and they are described in detail--they were kept out in the open exposed to the weather, almost starved, deprived of water, not allowed to bathe--only infrequently permitted to wipe themselves off with diesel water, had to ask permission to go to relieve themselves, had no access to basic sanitary practices, and were often separated and not allowed to interact for the most part. They were kept alive, but that was all.

How does it feel to fear rape, torture, and death daily? To have your life reduced to trying to make it from one moment to the next? How does it change you?
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Format: Hardcover
This book wastes no time throwing you into desert of Somalia with Jessica and empathetically wondering, "Will she make it?" It is a unique story of someone who has endured so much at the hands of a ruthless enemy, but it is also the story of a family fighting for her from afar. The descriptions of her father in this book make me think of a character I saw once, played by Jeff Bridges, he's loving, tender hearted, and faithful to God to the very end. But the story isn't overtly about faith or heroism - it's about something we should all know and care about, but few of us do. There is a profession overseas that is nothing like what you see in Disney movies, they are drugged up, ruthless, soulless killers - and they are adding children to their numbers daily. I finished the book wanting to parachute into Somalia and do something about it. What will you do about it?

Buy this book and read it, you won't be able to put it down - and you may never be quite the same afterwards.
Comment 21 of 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful story of miraculous possibilities, and recounts the real and personal impact on individual's lives from the sacrifice of U.S. military personnel. The book does a wonderful job of keeping your interest by telling this story from numerous perspectives and emphasizing the inter-connectedness of the lives that came together in making this journey and rescue possible. You can't help but feel inspired after a read of Impossible Odds!
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Format: Kindle Edition
Jessica Buchanan and Erik Landemalm were humanitarian aid workers in Somalia. Jessica had a deep desire to help educate the African children. Erik worked to help coordinate humanitarian aid with authorities in Africa.

On October 25, 2011, Jessica and a colleague were kidnapped at gunpoint and held for ransom by a band of Somali pirates. For the next three months, Jessica was held outdoors in filthy conditions and kept on a starvation diet while her health steadily deteriorated.

After 93 days of negotiations, President Barack Obama ordered Navy SEAL Team Six to attempt a rescue mission. On January 25, 2012, a team of 24 SEALS attacked the heavily armed pirates. They killed all the pirates (nine were in the camp at the time of the rescue) with no harm to the hostages.

This is a story of courage, perseverance and faith.

I first heard about this book when Jessica Buchanan was a guest on the Dr. Phil Show. I remember Dr. Phil saying to Jessica, "I read your book...it is very well written." I was touched by Jessica's story and decided this was a book worth reading.

Jessica was a dedicated teacher and was deeply concerned about the child soldiers in Africa. These children are often kidnapped, drugged and forced to kill their entire families so they will have no place to go home to. Jessica was doing the work she loved when she became a victim of the very child soldiers that she was trying to help.

This book provides a detailed account about what it is like to be a victim of cruel and savage kidnappers. It also shares all the behind-the-scenes events that were taking place with her family, her employer and the U.S. government.
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1 Comment 8 of 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a page turner. It is really well written. This book does not disappoint. The book does not have even one page that is boring. A good author can write about anything. Here the author has a great story also to tell to the world.
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