Posted 20 hours ago

An Evil Cradling

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Joined in 2023

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There were plenty of outbreaks of violence and some kidnappings, but they didn’t worry him too much. Unlike some of his more cautious colleagues he didn’t live on the university campus but in a villa nearby.

Writing with such focus on self-reflection and reprocessing of events is less interesting to me than straightforward fact. He has a great ability to explain abstract philosophical or political ideas through personal anecdotes. Throughout the kidnap they also provided support to his two sisters, Elaine Spence and Brenda Gillham, who were spearheading the campaign for Brian's release. Anyway,perhaps Keenan explains some of the feelings that he had while held for four and a half years,I don't really believe he explained those feelings better than others but worth the read. Pride is all very well and good if you're trying to stop yourself from being completely dehumanised and broken down by extremists holding you hostage, but I think it should be combined with picking one's battles.The first section, on his time in solitude, has some absolutely amazing passages, that evoked a stronger emotional response in me than anything else I have ever read. Beautiful section on the ‘dreaming man’, the ‘living corpses’ ends with: ‘a man emerges back into life, not because of anything I have said, but the lunacy and the laughter that is at the heart of our life beckon him back and he cannot resist. This book is a testament to humanity, though not the idealised view of humanity in which we "ride above adversity because in the end the human spirit wins out. I will reveal the moments of physical abuse but with extreme care and sensitivity so that what might be vicarious and even terrifying may be underscored with sympathy.

Brian Keenan was a young and idealistic teacher from Ireland when he went out to Beirut to teach English in 1985. Keenan does a remarkable job of reconstructing his world and inviting the reader in, and he also manages something very unique in this style of writing. With musings on politics, philosophy and religion and the human capacity for love - and evil - this book is a very important and moving read. This is a personal piece of writing dealing with his personal experience, and it was written during a time of recovery from the incident itself. He is clearly a gregarious person; he made friends, ate meals with people, and explored his environment.He was released from captivity to Syrian military forces on 24 August 1990 and was driven to Damascus. Brian was kidnapped and incarcerated in Beirut and over more than 4 years moved to various hiding places. Another book club choice, and one which I wasn't particularly looking forward to reading, but the book turned out to be very good at conveying the horror of being kidnapped and held against his will for years. I believe that the author was trying to portray a story that was as close to the truth as he could get and as boredom was the over-riding feature of his confinement then it would not do justice to him or his imprisonment if it were 'jazzed up'for an audience.

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