Kabul 24 by Henry O. Arnold & Ben Pearson

August 2001, Kabul, Afghanistan: Eight relief workers from Shelter Now International — German citizens George Taubmann, Katrin Jelinek, Margrit Stebner, and Silke Durrkopf; along with Australians Peter Bunch, and Diana Thomas; and two Americans Heather Mercer, and Dayna Curry — were arrested by the Taliban. Officially they were never accused of any crimes yet were locked away, questioned and threatened daily, and subjected to living conditions horrific beyond comprehension. Despite their fear, the captives clung to their faith and treated their captors and fellow prisoners with love and Christian charity — and in doing so won help and loyalty where none should have been found.

Kabul 24 is a story of hope, courage and shining miracles. The book is written in a compassionate yet factual manner. The events aren’t sensationalized and the reader is invited to fear for the captives, but not to hate the captors. We are invited to share the extraordinary faith journey of these eight relief workers and see that God is clearly at work in the world today, just as he was when the world began.

I received the book in this morning’s mail and read it from cover to cover putting it down only long enough for meals and other minor necessities. Despite its grim subject matter, the book is an uplifting read. It reveals the Taliban in ways the press never can or will, exposing both the good and the bad. Even if you are not interested in the Christian message of faith, there is history in the book that should make it a “must read” for everyone.

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I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Inc. for providing me with a free copy of this book to review.

24 thoughts on “Kabul 24 by Henry O. Arnold & Ben Pearson

  1. Ohhhhhh you’re gonna make me read that book… and I do NOT like to read about violence and ESPECIALLY torture…. but I know… you’re gonna MAKE me read that book. *sigh*

    • Melli — while the overall view of the inhumanities is depressing, the book is not sensationalized and we are not made to “watch” the torture. Moreover, one of God’s miracles is that none of the 8 hostages were physically tortured, though they lived with the threat moment-by-moment.

      And, the book is full of hope and light. The ending — the choices made by the freed prisoners — will blow you away. You’ll definitely know that God is with them.

      The book and the news stories at the time vary greatly. I was surprised by how much the story differed from what I was lead to believe by the press articles of the time.

  2. Quilly, it sounds like a great book! Book club worthy? Or just for me?

    I’m terribly behind and about to get behind-er, but I just posted a photo challenge for next Wednesday. Come & play?

    • Karen — you’re going to make me clean my windows, aren’t you?

      Oh, and I think definitely club worthy. This book would definitely lend itself to a contemplation of the limits of faith: Are there any? Would your faith sustain you? And a discussion of modern day miracles.

    • Susan —

      I told Amoeba that this book was like reading a 282 page news article. What I really liked was that I got many scenes from the perspective of several different people. We see what happened to Diana and Heather from their perspective. Then we see the same event from Georg’s perspective. Then we see the same event through the eyes of the other women.

      At first, the hostages were seldom together as a group, so each event played out differently for each sub-group and that was shared. It helped round-out my experience as a reader to see everyone’s differing views, actions and reactions. Most of the story is told from Georg’s viewpoint — probably because he was the SNI director.

    • Polona — most likely so. I got mine from the Publisher and he shipped through Borders Book Store (huge chain store here). I also don’t know if it’s been translated into any other languages. It is a reasonably new release so possibly not.

  3. Heather is from the next town over to us — the one we lived in before here (but after Vegas).

    Proselytizing to Muslims isn’t illegal just under the Taliban — under any Muslim government, it is a death penalty offense for the converted and potentially one for the proselytizer. If they’re foreign, they just get kicked out of the country if they’re lucky. We have friends who were kicked out of Egypt. When my dad was in Saudi Arabia, their home church was broken up — too many foreigners meeting together must be a conspiracy of Christians. The company they worked for totally backed the Saudi government.

    My reaction — how powerful must the Gospel be for them to fear it so? Do they not think their belief system is powerful enough to defeat the ‘infidel”? Not much confidence in their version of god! Scripture says even Satan knows who Jesus is…and what the long term plan is.

  4. Kelley — the Taliban says they were proselytizing. The newspapers claim they were proselytizing. The book claims they were NOT, and that the evidence brought against them at trial was so meager (their own personal Bibles and a few videos) that all pretense of them being religious prisoners dissolved and it became immediately apparent they were political hostages.

    And I share your thoughts on the power of the gospel. I once asked a friend of mine who was pressing me to convert to her religion why it was she was forbidden to listen to anything I had to say about mine. I told her it seemed her religion, if it were the truth as it claimed, wouldn’t have to be intimidated by the beliefs of others. Then I told her that God gave us all free choice and I was very skeptical of any religion who tried to take that away.

    • The SNI folks weren’t found guilty of proselytizing. When the judge realized there was no evidence against them, he called for a continuance of their case, and then refused to schedule further court time for them.

    • Oh, Betty — I have read many books from cover-to-cover in one day. If I love a book, I hate to put it down! In this one, there was just too much suspense to quit reading! I pretty much felt like the imprisoned people felt, and I wanted them safe!

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