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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This narrative of the capture of New York Times reporter David Rohde by the Taliban is unique in that it presents not only the captive's experience, but that of his wife, Kristen Mulvihill, as well.

The two were newly married, and Mr. Rohde was in Afghanistan, hoping to snag one more interview for a book he was writing. After that, he promised his wife he'd come home and settle down. The catch is that the interview was with a Taliban leader in the dicey tribal border lands of Pakistan.

Of course, he is captured and held for months, shuttled back and forth between Taliban prisons, while back in the States his wife works tirelessly for his release. In the end, all the negotiations come to nothing and Mr. Rohde saves himself, making a daring escape along with another captive.

The most interesting part of the book to me was Mr. Rohde's description of his imprisonment. It matches up well with that of another Taliban captive, Jere Van Dyk (Captive: My Time as a Prisoner of the Taliban). Their description of the capricious nature of their unpredictable captors is very similar. But Mr. Rohde is less forthcoming about his inner life. He seems determined to tough it out, and maybe that's what got him through, but his reserve created an emotional distance for me that I wish weren't there. When he does talk of emotions, it's usually in the context of faking them in order to gain release.

The same is true of Ms. Mulvihill. She is a strong woman, and that serves her well. But she withholds at crucial times, too. Here is how she describes telling her mother about her husband's capture: "[I] bring her up to speed while Lee phones his wife from the other room." What did she say? Did her voice catch? Did she cry?

The captivity narrative is interspersed with sections on the history of Afghanistan and on the endless negotiations. In the end, the escape is, of course, riveting, and a relief, no more so than for Mr. Rohde and Ms. Mulvihill. I hope they get to enjoy a predictable, settled married life from here on out!
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2010
I initially picked up Rohde and Mulvihill's book after hearing them interviewed on NPR--their story sounded interesting even though I am not someone who is usually interested in hostage or kidnapping narratives.

Their way of presenting two sides of the same horrible ordeal allows the reader to fully capture what both the hostage and his/her family had to experience, as well the perception of the different players involved in the situation. Also, the thread of black humor that intermittently arose added to the "human factor" of this book--after all, often times humor can save us from the deepest levels of dispair.

I also appreciated David's insight into his captor's perceptions of the West as well as their extremist twist on their religion. For those of us who don't completely understand the complexities of the region, A Rope & A Prayer broke it down quite well. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2012
This account is of a journalist who was kidnapped in 2007 by Taliban extremists in Afghanistan, transported to southern Pakistan and kept prisoner over seven months while experiencing psychological torture, mainly by promises of release that would not come. The story is alternately told by both the captive and his wife of two months, who seeks aid from various sources for her husband's safe return.

The tale is intriguing, aggravating and disheartening. Intriguing in learning something about those countries and extreme Islam and related history.

While the husband is captive, we learn of the wife's inane duties associated with reader's appeal of "Cosmopolitan" magazine, such as "What does a man's butt say about him," while she enlists private security companies, government agencies and high administrative officials for help in rescuing her husband.

It was disheartening to realize the extent of unnecessary waste of human, government and monetary sources in participating in rescuing someone who should know better as he had been captive in Bosnia, needed rescuing then and knew of the risks with the Taliban. Further, history given shows that the U.S. should not have engaged in Afghanistan because of numerous failures of other countries over centuries. So the book is valuable for understanding, and developing personal opinions about America's involvement in other nation's affairs while there is great need within our own country.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2011
A riveting true story about the kidnapping in Afghanistan of a New York Times reporter. It is told in chapters that alternative in authorship between the kidnapped reporter and his wife back in NYC. In the course of the story we learn a lot about society in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the history of the area and the geo-political forces at work in the region.

Even though we know the ending of the story (the reporter is now free), the story is told in a quick paced, riveting page-turner manner that grabbed my attention and never let go.

Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2011
I knew about this book after reading an excerpt of it from Vogue magazine. I really enjoyed how the book tells you what happens with a kidnapping both from the victim's perspective and the family's. It makes you realize what kidnapping victims' families go through. I also appreciated the background information about what is happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and especially in the Pakistani tribal areas that the terrorists find as a safe haven, that I really, really wish our troops or the local government could just get in there and seriously put an end to all these terrorist acts. It makes me sick to my stomach that ten year old boys wish to become suicide bombers when they grow up, and at the same time my heart goes out for them because these children don't know any better; they don't know that there is a better life out there, more fun things for ten years old to play with or worry about.

I also liked that the book tells you about differing opinions about the issues, such as whether or not the local government actually support the Taliban, so it's not just merely the author's opinion. I am also glad to learn that our government, and the British, do not negotiate or pay ransom for kidnappings; even though it might be harder for the families to have to deal with, for which the government does provide aide and support, I think it's an important policy in order not to encourage even more kidnappings. I am also glad to find out that our government, unlike others, consuls and lets the family make the important decisions before they take any action that might involve the safety of the kidnap victim. I am thankful to know that our government respects and values our family values and rights. And I'm definitely thankful that we live in a place where we have freedom and our existence as human beings is highly valued.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2013
Well written and exciting, as well as terrifying. Shows the terror of those in a kidnapping situation in the Middle East, as well as what the family at home has to go through. Exciting and informative.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2011
Just finished reading this book in one day. After I started reading it, I just couldn't put it down, even though I knew it would end well for the main protagonist. I loved the innovative story-telling method and it was nice to get both sides of the kidnapping. Although, as a reader I also wondered about the back door dealings and double-crossing that the Taliban kidnappers were encountering as well (of course that kind of information is impossible to come by)! In the end, I thought the book presented a tale of understanding and compassion for a region in the world that has experienced mind-boggling horrors from a plethora of actors. The region is just as much of a victim as David was. One of the best books I have ever read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2013
This book helps the average person to better understand the situation in the Middle East from both sides. It also helps one understand the geography and landscape. This helps the reader to relate to everyday news articles in the media. David is very good at bringing out the inner thoughts of himself, his wife, and his captors. He also gives a good glimpse of the politics involved with many references.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2013
"This is not a story of triumph," begins A Rope and A Prayer, but it is - just not triumph as planned.

Rohde's tale of his kidnapping, captivity, and escape are the stuff spy novels hope to achieve, but rarely do. His wife's telling of her side of the story - what she actually saw and felt trying and hoping for his freedom - makes it all more exciting and poignant. Painted with vivid details throughout, the reader feels he's very much there. Halfway through the book, I had to grab my chair hard, take a deep breath, and remind myself this was not fiction, but something very real. The relief at the end is amazing.

Rohde shows us that his captors fearlessly run a secure and often brutal Taliban state with no ties to any "civilized" government. Pakistan denies it even exists. And those captors clearly know little of us. When they hear of a Vietnamese immigrant going on a rampage in the U.S., they ask if the Vietnamese are Muslims.

Mulvihill works with the NY Times's worldwide contacts, the highest American officials, private crisis advisors and security "contractors," and shadowy third-worlders who claim direct lines to the kidnappers. All prove powerless to really help, or even find out where her husband is being held. Rohde and his comrade escape by their own wits, and with a fair amount of luck.

A breathtaking ride and a great education on affairs in this both foreign and important part of our world. Highly recommended.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2011
This was a book that was easy to read and then put down. While it was well written and the details of David's capture and the people he spent those months with were very good, I did not really understand all that his wife was going through. By the time I had completed the book, I felt great relief for his return and understood his concern for the people who helped him, however, I did not have sympathy for her and all she went through waiting for him. I think she could have been a great source of inspiration to others who have gone through this same experience but I don't think she wanted to share alot of her private moments.
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