Kabul 24 Paperback – 3 Feb 2012
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
WHAT I LIKED
I loved the way the eight focused on God in their difficulties. They spent much time in prayer and Bible study, the six women even composed songs of praise and worship. They never seemed to lose their focus on God, the difficulties never seemed to shake their faith. For example they prayed that when they were rescued that it would be without any loss of life. Their determination to trust in God was such that they turned down a rescue because it involved the killing of guards.
The authors of the book were very effective in portraying the eight foreigners with honesty and integrity. At times they despaired of rescue, at times they grew frightened, sometimes they argued in tense moments, and they struggled to know what to do. They also faced the danger to exaggerate the danger of the story. They could have stretched the truth and described beatings that never happened, they could have hidden the kindnesses and breaks that they received but they did not, for that they have my appreciation.
NOT SO MUCH
To be honest the writing was clumsy at times (I`m the King of clumsy writing so I know it when I see it), particularly when trying to describe aspects of Christian life and culture to an audience that they apparently did not expect to understand such things. However, it wasn't distracting and as the pace picked up the book took on kind of a Grisham feel, which these authors were quite good at.
Probably my biggest complaint is that book was named the Kabul24 but they focused exclusively on the eight foreigners and virtually ignored the 16 natives. I understand that this was because the natives had never converted to Christianity and Christians are their primary audience but the story of the 16 sounded much more dramatic and desperate than the eight. Just would have like more info.
My last complaint is that their was a big recurring theme that the SNI workers were not trying to proselytize (share the Gospel with hopes of conversions) in Afghanistan. My response is that either this is a shading of the truth or they really weren't concerned about the Afghani's becoming Christians. And there were moments where they seemed to be ok with people being good Muslims. I simply cannot understand being that involved with people who need Christ for so long and not sharing the Gospel with them. But I don't pretend to understand the complexities of ministry in Muslim cultures. So I hope that I am simply misunderstanding the reality of the situation.
Good easy read. I have some questions that weren't answered. But it was enlightening. I learned a great deal about Muslim culture and about what some parachurch ministries are doing there. Not going to be a classic but a fun read.
The true account of the Christian workers who were targeted by terrorists back in 2001 has been told by two of them -- Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry -- in much publicized books and tours. Maybe that's why a lot of this book felt like warmed-up leftovers.
One good aspect of going back to pick up the various loose ends that doubtless didn't figure into the two most prominent team members' accounts is that the OTHER 22 kidnap victims are given equal time. Honestly, until I encountered the book, it didn't really dawn on me that a large group of workers for Shelter Now went through the trauma that Dayna and Heather did. In that respect, I am glad for the book's publication.
The writer and reader in me did not like how author's tone frequently drifted into a "telling not showing" mode. It distanced me, the reader, from feeling the sense of suspense and urgency that was, I am sure, part of the original experience. Instead of flipping pages because I just had to know what happened next, I found myself bored and even resentful about the way the author seemed to command me to feel tense; it felt manipulative and forced. Many times, the text read a bit like a movie script. Since this is a tie-in with a film, that might be expected.
Bottom line: if you haven't already heard and read a lot of books about westerners caught up in terrorist situations, this story might be fascinating reading for you. But if you are familiar with those cultures and political situations, Kabul 24 is not going to deliver the suspense it promises.
The book begins by describing life under the burka. Life oppressed. It preserves anonymity and oppresses. There are "..no physical marks made visible to distinguish her beauty, no bright smile to share with others, no voice to speak to her character. She was simply a burka..a tented cyclops.." The book highlights a point that the presence of women in a soccer stadium must be an affront to Allah. A shock to our Western sensibilities but a part of life in Taliban ruled Afghanistan. Hope comes in the form of committed aid workers, an author, and eventually a book. This book. Ben Pearson, one of the authors of Kabul 24, is told that "God has sent you. God has sent you to us to tell our story. Their story is a wonderful story of contradistinction. A story of betrayal, hurt, long suffering, trials, oppression and hope...always hope.
Heather and Dayna, aid workers, are arrested for proselytizing by showing the "Jesus" film to a curious Afghan family. In the aftermath of their arrest members of the organization they were working with were also imprisoned by the Taliban.Throughout the story the chronicling of life in Taliban controlled Afghanistan for these Christian aid workers takes a backseat to the provision of God which can be seen at almost every turn. There are members of the Taliban government that help the captives with information and dealing with the government on their behalf and there are various miracles that happen throughout their captivity. They realize that they are not alone and that there are people all over the world praying for them and trying to secure their rescue from prison. When they feel most alone they realize they are not alone. Neither God nor the world have forgotten them. Freedom would finally come in the harrowing days of the American invasion that ousted the Taliban. God's provision saw the captives through imprisonment, mistreatment at the hands of their enemies, bombings, and finally to freedom. The faithfulness of God and his nearness to us even in the most deepest and darkest moments is the central message of this great book. God will bring us from the depths of our despair to the freedom of a new day. In this story he does this literally. I learned in a very concrete way that God is with us. Even in moments when we feel like no one or nothing can help God is there. You are not alone. There is hope.
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Yet, the fate of these 24 individuals hangs in the balance - what will become of them? They try to hold onto their faith in the midst of trial and chaos, and are determined to live out their faith in the midst of their enemies.
Overall, this story - which I vaguely recalled from 2001 - was interesting and inspirational. I felt that I came to know the 8 aid workers, and the conditions of their imprisonment. It did seem as if the story was told from the perspective from one individual - Georg Taubmann - which was interesting in itself. However, it would have been a more robust story to have gotten the story from at least one of the 6 women who had been imprisoned.
The real missing piece in this novel are the 16 Afghan workers and their experience. I'm not sure they simply were not available to be interviewed, or if there was fear of reprisal in their case. However, without their story being told, this really seemed to be "Kabul8" instead of "Kabul24." Perhaps this opens the way for a sequel?
Still, even with the missing perspectives, this story is touching to read. The experience of these 8 people is compelling and inspirational. To draw on the faith and hope of the inner spirit of one's self, and to trust oneself to one's God for guidance, all the while not really knowing what the ultimate outcome might be. The type of book to draw faith from.