Alan Johnston
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Buy *Kidnapped: And Other Dispatches* by Alan Johnston online

Kidnapped: And Other Dispatches
Alan Johnston
Profile Books
160 pages
April 2009
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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The kidnapping of Alan Johnston in Gaza was a significant media event; he was the BBC's Gaza correspondent. The global campaign for his release, which was successful after four months, brought someone who perhaps few people had noticed into the limelight. Since his release, Johnston appears to have moved away from the publicity and returned to relative obscurity, not writing a huge book about his experiences but instead writing a piece just 20 pages long about his experiences that has been included in this book.

The book also contains articles written for the BBC 'From Our Own Correspondent' radio feature during the three years that he was in Gaza. These work to set the scene, and it's spooky to read about his fears of kidnapping, knowing what happened afterwards. He gives a good description of life in Gaza, the everyday life for thousands of people trapped in what is effectively a war zone. The book also contains a short interview with Johnston after his release and some of his other reports from Afghanistan and Central Asia before he went to Gaza.

Johnston's writing and sense of description live up to the BBC's usual high standard. I was surprised how brief the section on his kidnapping was, but it is well-balanced and helps to give an insight into his mind. I was left with the sense that this is a very private man, and I didn't really know him any better after reading this book. I do, however, have more of an understanding of the situation in Gaza and sympathy with the ordinary people there.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Helen Hancox, 2009

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