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A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran Hardcover – March 18, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this jointly authored memoir, three young, globetrotting journalists recount their two-year imprisonment in Iran. Bauer, Josh Fattal, and Sarah Shourd inadvertently hiked into unmarked Iranian territory where they were arrested and taken to a prison to be interrogated. The book details how the three rebelled against captivity by relying on one another for support and coordinating group hunger strikes. The trio describe with forceful detail how, despite frequent moves between prisons, they developed intense and diverse relationships with their captors. Even so, Iranian civil servants accuse the three of entering Iran on behalf of the CIA and Israel. Upon an unexpected release, Sarah uses her newfound celebrity to recruit help to secure the release of Shane and Josh, but this proves difficult and all the more pressing as Shane and Josh’s trial date looms. This engaging story portrays the horrors of imprisonment and the danger that awaits any intrepid traveler who becomes mired between the antipathy of two governments. --Steve Uhrich

Review

"Riveting and necessary and illuminating in countless unexpected ways. The hikers have pulled off the almost impossible task of making from their hellish experience something of beauty and grace." — Dave Eggers

 

"A Sliver of Light weaves a spellbinding tale of hard-won survival at the intersection of courage and love — the love of friends struggling to support one another in wretched circumstances, the unyielding bedrock of mothers' love for their long-lost children, and the fiercely tested love of three people for the family of humankind. It is a triumph of writing born of a triumph of being." — Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree and The Noonday Demon

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (March 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547985533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547985534
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #299,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia C.C. on June 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This book didn't sit well with me, for a variety of reasons, some of which I'll try to explain. To begin, the book's structure is off-putting. It is broken into small sections, most only a few pages long, with each being written from the viewpoint of one of the authors. I understand that all three wanted to tell their stories, each from his/her own point of view, but the constant jerking between them was disruptive. What made this structure even worse, all three speak in essentially the same literary voice. Meaning, it is nearly impossible to tell one person's section from another simply by reading them. (I had to keep referring to the listed name at the start of each section to keep them straight.) Without being able to hear each person as an individual, it is somewhat difficult to immerse oneself in the story. I wish they had found a more engaging and elegant way to convey their stories.

Another problem. This has been mentioned by quite a few other people. I have a difficult time believing that the hikers had no clue where they were. Why? I've traveled extensively both in the U.S. and in foreign countries on multiple continents, and not once did I not know where I was. Especially if there was a border anywhere nearby. That just doesn't happen with experienced travelers. And, given the extremely fraught nature of the greater Middle East area, it would be even more imperative for any experienced traveler with any common sense to be extremely situationally aware. Especially since it was the IRANIAN border. But these three claim that they thought they were 100 miles from the border. Not one mile, where some confusion might be expected, but 100 miles. That is a huge distance, especially in the mountains.
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57 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Joanna on April 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This was a fascinating and often moving read, but I simply couldn't believe the authors' account of innocently wandering into Iran. Their failure to assume responsibility for their acts and their continuing sense of entitlement also began to grate on me as the story progressed, even as I sympathized with their pain. It was never credible that a fact-loving journalist educated at Berkeley and living in the Middle East, along with his two bright, well-educated friends, would have no clue where they'd traveled on vacation or would think a tourist attraction they drove to was one hundred miles from the Iranian border when it was in fact only about three miles away. Did none of them ever look at a map to see where they were traveling? They repeatedly stress how knowledgeable they are of the Middle East, yet we're supposed to believe they had no idea of basic geography most tourists to the area would know?

It was also quite suspicious that they would begin their `recreational hike' towards Iran in the dark after 10 pm in a rugged area near the border where locals say they are no real trails and no one hikes for fun because of the steep terrain and presence of both land mines and smugglers in the area. They had no sleeping bags or camping gear and apparently just slept on the ground that first night, but we readers learn almost nothing about that critical part of the story (unless we Google news sources for the information) because it's left out: the tale opens when Shane wakes up to the `minty' mountain air.

From the book itself it's clear these three are good at lying and do it much of the time.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By KellyBRN on July 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I am happy the three hikers are all home safe, and no one should be held like that, but it was difficult to completely sympathize with them. Hiking near the Iran border in Iraq? They put themselves in a dangerous position and then when captured (I do believe they are innocent) they expected US jurisprudence of due process? What? They, of all people, should know that is not how middle eastern nations work.

I also found them less sympathetic that the same country they eschewed with disrespect, they expected to come to their rescue. I find them to frankly, exhibit some of the characteristics of Americans that I find loathsome; whiny & entitled.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By HRgradstudent on April 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover
330 or so pages of whining about unfairness and complaining about US policy, and yet not a single word of personal accountability. I was expecting a "Midnight Express" sort of memoir about the horrors of prison and the fight for freedom. Instead, I got a long narrative of what I felt were exaggerated accounts of mistreatment and meandering details of a well-meaning campaign for Sarah, Shane, and Josh's release that ultimately did nothing. It seems it was only the extraordinary kindness, brilliant negotiation tactics, and thick wallet of Oman that got them out. In no way do I mean to downplay the terror that Sarah, Shane, and Josh felt, or the sickening feeling of wondering when they would be released. The pain of separation from their loved ones was certainly horrible. The Iranian authority's decision to withhold mail and deny morale phone calls was excessive. I just felt it could have been much worse.

Didn't these 3 ever watch "Locked Up Abroad"? They all lived abroad, so shouldn't they have been aware of what would happen if they got into legal trouble outside of the US? Let me say it here: if you are a US citizen and are arrested in a foreign country, you are subject to that country's laws and practices. All the US can do for you is attempt to make sure you are provided with medical care and treated humanely, and that's assuming that you got arrested in a country that maintains a diplomatic relationship with the US. And there's a large gray area for "humane" treatment. Wanting pistachio ice cream and only having chocolate and vanilla to choose from is not an example of inhumane treatment (I swear I'm not joking when I tell you that the ice cream anecdote is in the book. Yes, Josh or Shane, can't remember which, complains about ice cream).
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