Sunday, October 4, 2009

Arnold, Henry O. and Pearson, Ben. Kabul 24: the Story of a Taliban Kidnapping and Unwavering Faith in the Face of Terror.

Thomas Nelson. 2009. 282p. photogs. ISBN 978-1-5955-5022-4. $14.99.

Here Arnold (co-writer and producer of the film The Second Chance; screenplay writer, God’s Ambassador; author of Hometown Favorite), co-writer and co-producer of Kabul24 (, the documentary film upon which this book is based, and Pearson (photographer; filmmaker; co-writer and director of the cinematography for The Second Chance), director of Kabul24, retell the riveting, harrowing story of the capture and imprisonment of eight Western Christian aid workers and their sixteen, Muslim, Afghan coworkers—all of whom were employees of the international, humanitarian organization Shelter Now International ( by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Beginning in August 2001, imprisoned for 3 months during one of the most volatile political windows in recent history, just before and after the 11th September 2001, the SNI eight— Peter Bunch, Dayna Curry, Katrin Jelinek, Heather Mercer, Margrit Stebner, Georg Taubmann, and Diana Thomas—teachers, engineers, nurses, students, and artists who were from countries of Western origin including Australia, Germany, and the United States, suffered interrogations, trials, the bombing of Kabul by Allied forces, and more during 105 days in captivity behind enemy lines. They had answered God’s call to help Afghan refugees rebuild their lives following decades of war, but became pawns used by extremists during the religious and political upheavals in Afghanistan just prior to and following 9/11, when they were declared a threat to Islam and the influence of the Taliban regime. Based upon primary source material drawn from raw film footage taken during the summer of 2003 and Eberhard Muehlan’s Escape from Kabul (Sydney: Strand Publishing, 2003), a collection of interviews with the former hostages conducted in 2002, letters, and court documents, this recollection primarily is an account of faith during extreme adversity when the aid workers sensed that they had been abandoned by the world. Intended to be inspirational rather than authoritative or scholarly, this easy-to-read, fast- paced, interesting, and poignant, publication, reads like a well-written novel, evoking many, perhaps mixed, emotions on behalf of readers. Retold from a seemingly objective, evangelical, Christian perspective, it develops to different extents the participants’ personalities and the events surrounding their imprisonment. The amazing and dramatic rescue of the eight SNI employees by American Special Forces, retold in the last chapter of the book, entitled “Life or Death,” proves to be particularly engaging and thought-provoking. Lacking documentary features such as footnotes, a selected bibliography, and an index, this book, which does include more than twenty, captioned, black-and-white photographs, is recommended for general audiences and public library collections. Availability: Barnes &,