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Unlikely Angel : The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 1, 2005

4 out of 5 stars 126 customer reviews

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From Publishers Weekly

This is less the story of a woman being held hostage in her apartment than an inspirational tract that could serve as a companion volume to The Purpose-Driven Life and become required reading in rehab clinics. Smith had been weaning herself off of speed, pot and Xanax when, after having been up the previous night snorting "ice" (methamphetamines, or "those drugs," as she frequently says) and setting up her new apartment, Brian Nichols held her hostage after killing several people while escaping from an Atlanta courthouse. Over the next seven hours, Smith convinced herself that God sent Nichols to straighten her out, and, between her cutting lines of speed for him to snort off her bathroom counter, showing him pictures of her daughter and family, reading him passages of ThePurpose-Driven Life, helping him ditch a truck he'd stolen, telling him about her murdered husband and cooking Nichols a pancake breakfast, she persuaded him to turn himself in. The pedestrian writing and Smith's moment-by-moment analysis of what's happening make for a frustrating read, but those looking for a simple story about overcoming addiction and persevering in the face of adversity will find this worthwhile. (Sept. 27)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"...a newly minted author and celebrity." -- Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"...a remarkable tale of redemption." -- Augusta Chronicle

"...could serve as a companion volume to The Purpose-Driven Life. -- Publishers Weekly

"...required reading." -- Publishers Weekly

"Smith leads the reader through the long, dangerous night, minute-by-minute." -- The Sunday Oklahoman

"Smith’s revelations offer a new wrinkle to a story that...captivated the country." -- Newsweek --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (October 1, 2005)
  • ISBN-10: 0310270677
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,421,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am Ashley's Aunt Kim. Her mother and I brought Ashley home with us the night of her ordeal with Brian Nichols. She has been with us (and Paige) since then. I know it is hard for many of you out there to take her story for what it is... A story of redemption. Ashley will be the first to tell you that she was no Angel and no Hero. In fact, she will tell you that she was a drug addict and a woman who made one wrong decision after another. My family lived the horror of those choices she made. We are qualified to comment on Ashley's life.

We all struggled with writing this story. We prayed through the process and sought out those that would not lose the message of hope in this story. This is why we went with a Christian writer and Publisher. Yes...God was in this whole ordeal. Yes...he brought some good out of this horrible tragedy. Yes...He wants to do the same in every one of our lives. Yes...whether you want to believe it or not...God has done a miracle in Ashley's life these past 7 months. We have watched her grow physically, emotionally and spirtually. She has shared her earnings in a most generous and Biblical way with her church, victims funds, and other organizations such as Katrina Relief and World Vision. She has made the transition back into Motherhood, seeking counsel along the way. I could go on and on of her healing, but unless you are around her on a regular basis, you wouldn't understand what I'm talking about.

Those of you who are skeptics, should have sat in the jail last week as she spoke with inmates on the horrors of her life. I wish you could have sat in on the "Celebrate Recovery" meeting in Omaha as she poured her heart out to those hurting women. Seeing the looks of hope on those women's faces was such an amazing sight.
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Format: Hardcover
Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero is a truly inspiring read. It is a story about bravery, as well as a story about redemption, and a story about what God can and will do when He moves in someone's life. Ashley Smith recounts her seven-hour ordeal of March 12, 2005 when she was held hostage by Brian Nichols, who had shot up the Fulton County Courthouse the previous afternoon, killing three people before he had made his escape. Smith tells the story of her ordeal being held hostage, but she also writes about the murder of her husband Mack in 2001 and the drug addiction problems which cost her custody of her daughter Paige. All of these events build up to Ashley's spiritual awakening, when she finally realizes that God truly does have a plan for her life, and she surrenders herself to His will. A lot of skeptics and naysayers out there have been quick to judge and label Ms. Smith. I'm sure that she would be the first to say that she is neither a hero or an angel. She is only human, but like the rest of us, she is a human being for whose life God has a plan. He has already moved in a mighty way within her life, and I believe He will continue to use her. His plan for her life is far from finished. Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero is an excellent read, and I recommend it to Christians and non-Christians alike. This is a great book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am going to have to say that this person literally changed my life and walk with God. I am a Christian as well and I admire the honesty that Ashely Smith used in the book. She says it like it was, not hiding the fact that she was a drug addict. She has flaws in her life. She has Christ as her Lord and Savior and we can all see how God works in real life. He takes the broken and makes it new. He takes the weakest and makes it the strongest. By herself, Ashley could do nothing but be taken in as a hostage and perhaps killed instantly as Brian Nicols was searching for a hideout. He did not need company. He was killing everyone on his path. He was stopped by this 26 year old woman who had faith in God through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Christ gave her the strength to go and speak the right words, make the right choices. Even when she made a mistake and realized she had offered drugs to a killer, she immediately repented and regreted what she had said. Once the words left her mouth it was out of her hands. She can only pray, and that she did.

This book teaches alot about being a Christian. Honesty is most important. The fact that she did not want anyone else killed, including the killer and showed kindness to him to reach him. Jesus says "love even your enemies". She obeyed. She trusted the Lords words. She hung on to each word of scripture she could remember at the most trying time in her life. She obeyed Gods commands, step by step she prayed quitely and God got her through it, safely. Sure she made a human mistake by offering drugs. She is a human being and we ALL make mistakes. But she was also willing to die and put her life on the line again by returning back to the appartment with a killer who just moments earlier had killed policemen and a policewoman.
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By B. Kim on September 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The one star reviews you see were written by people who haven't actually read the book and are cynically disgusted with all "book deals" for 15 minute celebrities. I too am a cynic who is highly suspicious of opportunistic "book deals."

It is a shame, because this book doesn't deserve much of the criticism leveled by the detractors who are mostly bitter at the genre and not this specific title.

Unlikely Angel is a sincere story of a woman living in the tension between the Christian faith and the reality of a struggle with drugs. She knows how she ought to live her life and yet fails to achieve the ideals expected by her devout Christian grandfather and family members.

Despite what many cynics will believe. This book is not a brazen grab for publicity by Smith. She is clearly uncomfortable with celebrity and is driven by the desire to come clean and tell her story as a way of exorcising her past. Addiction and secrecy always go hand in hand and this is her attempt to put both these demons behind her. Oh sure, the publisher wants to make money, but Smith is, present tense, healing from a wounded past.

I'll also mention that Ashley Smith is incredibly smart. Though she has yet to finish her formal education and she has never had training in negotiation strategies, Smith has brilliant intuition. Police negotiators, psychologists and business negotiators would do well to pay attention to her technique.

Is Ashley Smith a hero? Maybe not. Smith did not intentionally put herself in the hostage situation. However, Smith does show sincere concern for the welfare of other people. She goes back to her apartment with her captor to avoid a public shootout when she could have driven away. For once in her life, she was more concerned for others than she was in getting her next fix.
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