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An Evil Cradling Paperback – 15 Apr 1993


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (15 April 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009999030X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099990307
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"An early nineties classic... It reminds you of the privilege of freedom" (Joseph Fiennes Daily Express)

"There may have been more important books than Brian Keenan's An Evil Cradling, but its thoughtfulness and delicacy of feeling are unforgettable. Four years of savage captivity in Lebanon have been transmuted into understanding, not bitterness: a remarkable achievement" (Daily Telegraph)

"From the horror has come something wonderful. An Evil Cradling is a great book... it has been created from harsh reality, and it has been created by a true writer... With the publication of An Evil Cradling, Brian Keenan is not letting the world forget. This is a mighty achievement by a magnificent writer" (Frank McGuinness Irish Times)

"Scriptural in its resonances and its broad artistry, while being as gripping as an airport thriller" (Observer)

"Unforgettable...a remarkable achievement" (John Simpson)

Book Description

'A moving and remarkable triumph' Sebastian Faulks, Independent on Sunday

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 April 2001
Format: Paperback
Brian Keenan's account of his and John McCarthy's incarceration in Beirut is, in my opinion, the greatest non-fiction title ever written. What makes this book stand head and shoulders above all of the other factual accounts I have read over the years is Keenan's superlative prose. Unlike other titles that survive purely on the strength of the story alone, Keenan's masterly use of the English language turns this book into an epic. Everyone should read this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Four Violets VINE VOICE on 13 Jan 2008
Format: Paperback
Totally shrouded in masking tape and lifted like rolled carpets, two men are placed in a coffin-like hiding place in the well of a truck. Then, incredibly, into this tiny space climbs an armed guard who lies on top. Sweltering, suffocated by dust and diesel fumes, fighting claustrophobia, head and body banging onto metal - crushed with horror "not of human origin" - this is how Brian Keenan and his fellow hostage John McCarthy were moved between hiding places during their time as hostages in Beirut - Brian Keenan for four and a half years. One such journey lasted six hours and they were moved at least seventeen times.

Savagely beaten, living in filthy, squalid conditions, deprived at times of light or food, shackled to the wall or radiators, tortured by mosquitoes, ants and cockroaches, with no hope of release and at times not expecting to survive the next hour, each hostage had only his inner resources to save him from madness or utter despair. Sometimes incarcerated with others, notably three American hostages, Keenan and McCarthy drew strength from each other. On the surface very different, their close bond provided moments of humour as they devised means of surviving empty days and combating the fear of insanity and death.

Brian Keenan's furious response to being treated as something less than human by his Islamic Jihad captors - food flung to them, humiliated, degraded, the casual assumption that all Westerners are evil - made him rebel to the point that ultimately, he and John McCarthy earned not only the respect of their captors; but incredibly, also their affection.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Oct 1998
Format: Paperback
I found this book both compelling and intriuging and found it hard to put down. The experience suffered by Brian and the other captives was horrific and to put that down on paper was truly amazing. Keenan dragged the reader through the awful times that he was going through and shared his inner most fears and feelings with the reader. This book was about strength and courage to survive unimaginable circumstances put upon him by Islamic Jihad the captors that took him in 1985. I have to say that I enjoyed this book in a strange kind of way and I was gripped by what was going to happen next. It was over 6 months ago that I read An Evil Cradling but it will stick in my mind for a long time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Webvira on 7 Feb 2001
Format: Paperback
I read this book about 3 years ago. The words are not fresh in my mind but the mark it's made on my spirit is as fresh as if it were made just today.
To me, this is a real-life story of Job. It shows the untapped courage that lies deep inside us. It made me question whether I really am as fragile as I imagine myself. This is one of the few books that has truly changed my thinking.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dirty Rotten Book Lover on 20 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback
Brian Keenan's 'An Evil Cradling' is surely the most important, affecting, moving and inspiring I've ever read. I was being extraordinarily pulled towards this book over several months, for no obvious reason, and I couldn't have imagined I would discover such a beautifully written and insightful piece of work. It grabbed me, heart and soul, and I barely stopped to eat and sleep whilst devouring it. Never have I read something that has gripped me so - I've always ultimately favoured fact to fiction, and Brian Keenan proves that the most astonishing stories are those not made up.

Through his astonishing skill with language, and intellect, and warmth, he takes us to a place so deep within us, a place most of us are not compelled to travel (thank goodness) in our lives - through madness and fear and out the other side... to what Brian describes as true freedom and love. I particularly appreciated his reflections on both of these. His compassionate understanding of his captors is both astounding and believable.

I wish I could meet this man and thank him personally for sharing this book with us. I'm going to try and convince as many as possible of those I know and love to read it. I honestly can't think of a better gift. Though I panick almost daily that there are too many good books in the world to read in my lifetime, this is one of the few that's worth reading several times over, and I've promised myself that's what I'll do.

Extraordinary, astonishing, astounding, beautiful - I promise you I do not use these words flippantly. All adjectives well deserved and I could not recommend this book more strongly. I hope you read it.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By B. L. Hargrave on 15 Feb 2006
Format: Paperback
Having looked at a couple of the reviews that have already been written, there was one I can't deny that I found surprising by nazihmusa from Cairo.
In their review, they said they found it annoying that Keenan had gone to Lebanon without knowing what he was going into and that his suffering was joined by the suffering of a multitude of Lebanese people. I can see the point but I don't think Keenan wrote this book to negate that fact. He was simply writing down his experiences and it is about the fight for life and sanity in desperate surcumstances.
I think that however he came to be in Lebanon and however he lived his life prior to being captured are somewhat beside the point. This book talks about visitiing insanity and finding that you can overcome it. It is also a book about humanity and relationships and helping each other in the times when we are most desperate and needy ourselves. It is a book that I have come back to many times and I imagine I will do again.
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