Sunday, February 28, 2010

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Days of Fear: A Firsthand Account of Captivity Under the New Taliban Days of Fear: A Firsthand Account of Captivity Under the New Taliban by Daniele Mastrogiacomo

This is a gripping account by a journalist who instead of getting an interview with a Taliban ("Qura'nic student movement") commander is abducted and held ransom by those he set out to interview. Daniele Mastrogiacomo, the author who tells his story in "Days of Fear: A Firsthand Account of Captivity Under the New Taliban," goes through incredible up's and downs, rationalizing and resisting, despairing and hopeful of achieving release, freedom.

Matrogiacomo shares his the roller-coaster emotions of his captivity that both paralyze and push him. One moment he is realizing he is getting what he wanted: an inside look at the Taliban. Another moment he is pleading for his life arguing that he is a journalist not a soldier and standing up, even if calm, against armed men while his hands are either tied behind his back or he is in cuff and chains.

"Days of Fear" can be read as expose of the "new" Taliban, of the mutual cruelty unleashed by U.S. occupation and war to dislodge an organized force hell-bent on living life, structuring and restructuring Afghanistan on relgious creed, a true monoculture that is a reaction to the privations, both real and ideological that we know as the economic, social, religious, cultural and political mores of the "West."

Mastrogiacomo meets Taliban men who are steeled, determined, cruel, pious, praying five times a day, capable of coercion, torture, solidarity and exaltation, laughter, happiness. British and U.S. troops, convoys, drones are always in the background, being avoided by what in reality is a guerrilla operations.This book comes at a good time, as U.S. military builds up pressure trying to dislodge and defeat the Taliban in their own strongholds.

Mastrogiacomo's story begins on February 26, 2007 and on this same day in 2010 the news reports that same impression: the Taliban are still potent, organizing resistance and fighting in ways that hadn't been seen before: suicide bombers.

Will our "days of fear" end with freedom and reunion with those we love and need to live fully? Or are we looking at a long war that is shaping what looks to be a long century of wars, depravities, natural world revolutions and deeper neoliberalism that will make the previous century look peaceful in comparison?

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