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An Evil Cradling [Paperback]

Brian Keenan
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

15 April 1993
Brian Keenan went to Beirut in 1985 for a change of scene from his native Belfast. He became headline news when he was kidnapped by fundamentalist Shi'ite militiamen and held in the suburbs of Beirut for the next four and a half years. For much of that time he was shut off from all news and contact with anyone other than his jailers and, later, his fellow hostages, amongst them John McCarthy.

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An Evil Cradling + Some Other Rainbow + Taken on Trust
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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 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Non-fiction at its very best. 5 April 2001
By A Customer
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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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, have never read beter 15 Oct 1998
By A Customer
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
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "We are all creatures in need of love" 13 Jan 2008
By Four Violets VINE VOICE
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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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, but harrowing insight 25 Nov 2003
By A Customer
That Brian Keenan spent 4 years as a hostage is hard enough to contemplate even without having read his book. That he survived the experience is a testament to how far the human mind can be pushed, yet still hold itself together and come back. Keenan’s experiences of isolation and monotony in a constant atmosphere of fear, paranoia and mindless brutality must surely have made those 4 years seem like a lifetime.
Keenan was one of many nationalities taken captive in Beirut in the late 80s, by various Muslim fundamental factions. In my memory, the most well known was Terry Waite (who, outside of the British government, was trying to negotiate their release) and John McCarthy, whose girlfriend had set up a group to lobby the British government to action. This is Keenan’s story of survival; there is little background to the issues that put him there. There is no exploration of the reasons or events that led to his release. The book stays insular, because that is how his experience was. It was obvious (though mentioned only briefly) that the British and US governments were negotiating their releases at some stage – strongly denied by both at the time. Perhaps other hostages stories would relate more of this.
Keenan’s experience is relayed with much internal philosophising on how to cope with isolation and fear. He relates many of his perceptions as to what makes someone human. That he can make some of his captors sympathetic creatures is a credit to the intellect that kept him sane, and his understanding of human nature in the face of religious servitude.
At times he came to almost relish the beatings, as he felt they gave him control - the anticipation of them being far worse.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy story to read but such wonderful writing
Not an easy story to read but such wonderful writing. It is an amazing account of the strength of character and imagination that Brian Keenan and John McCarthy had throughout their... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Willow girl
5.0 out of 5 stars an evil cradling
this was a present to myself. you will have to know a bit about the other people with brian keegan so understand it.
Published 5 months ago by MAGGIE
5.0 out of 5 stars You will not be able to put this down...
An Evil Cradling, is a novel I read and re-read. Detailing Keenan's harrowing experience held captive for years. Keenan observes the darkness and light of the human spirit. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Emma
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotional read
Sensitive and open account of being taken hostage. Couldn't put it down. Felt
Like I was in the room with him at times. Really highlighted human courage and resilience.
Published 8 months ago by linzi gow
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
great product very hard wearing and simple to use sylish and easy to usetime and again. would buy it again if needs be.
Published 9 months ago by delticwarrior
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read
Was recommended this book by a friend of mine and totally enjoyed it as I prefer non fiction to fiction. Read more
Published 11 months ago by caroline dorricott
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read
Great book. Arguably my favourite of all time. Delivery was excellent - arrived the very next morning. Read more
Published 12 months ago by M
5.0 out of 5 stars couldn't put it down
Best book I have ever read. The way in which you get carried through the journey, that Brian keenan has to endure,will stay with you for a long time. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Sue J.S. J.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Using this topic for a dissertation on the impact of environment on occupational performance so can't wait to read. X
Published 15 months ago by Louise Knighton
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read
Book that can change your outlook on life, how he manages to keep one engaged with the small world he was subjected to is quite incredible.
Published 15 months ago by mrs b spearman
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