Buried Alive, by Roy Hullums with Audrey Hudson (Hardcover, 2010)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
This is a well-written first-hand account of one man's experience as
a kidnapping victim in Iraq. Starting from the actual kidnapping, we
accompany Roy through various locations until his release after 311
grueling days of captivity. Beatings, starvation, injury, illness,
filthy conditions, sleep deprivation, and extreme confinement--Roy
endured all of this and more.
Editorially and journalistically, this book is a standout. The prose
was sparkling and error-free. The composition was superb. Iraq-related
books are nearly always politically proselytizing, and this one isn't.
The author gave a factual account of the events. The book doesn't have
any agenda apparent to me other than to tell what happened.
We do get a glimpse of Roy's religious background, but the book
doesn't have a religious agenda. Roy does express his gratitude for his
rescuers (and rightfully so), but he doesn't shill for the military. As
a reader, I wanted to know what happened and I wanted to read that
without having to endure political or religious preaching. This book did
not betray my trust on that score.
Roy provides enough detail at each step so we can understand how and
perhaps why this or that event happened. For example, how does someone
inside a reasonably secure building protected by armed guards get
kidnapped from that building? How can someone be hidden away for nearly
a year, in a place crawling with military troops who are looking for the
This book raises many interesting questions, just in the telling of
the story. As noted, it also answers many questions. One question people
have asked Roy repeatedly is how he managed to hang on for so long. We
see the answer as events unfold.
Sprinkled into this account are parallel accounts from family members
for certain days. The material for these accounts comes from such
sources as his daughter's diary.
Many interesting facts emerge in the narrative. For example, despite
being in a dark cellar Roy was able to track the calendar by counting
the daily flyover of Blackhawk helicopters and to determine the
approximate time of day by noting which of the five daily prayer
sessions his captors were engaged in.
The very existence of the prayer sessions brings up another point.
Many times throughout the book, Roy recounted some "our religion is
better than your religion" remark or another from his captors, and the
remark was completely at odds with their behavior (kidnapping and
torture). At one point, his captors gave him a sheet of paper in which
they had written "the house rules." Item number one said "We are your
friends." The other items basically gave reasons they would kill him.
You can understand much about the Iraq situation just by reading this
book. Even if you're not especially interested in learning about Iraq,
this book is worthwhile because it's a good read. It's a page turner,
partly because the story is good and partly because the story is told so
This book runs about 200 pages covering 34 chapters. The chapter
count is a little high for this many pages, and my first concern upon
seeing this was the chapters were made short in an effort to cover weak
writing. That wasn't at all the case, though, as the writing was
top-notch. The chapters were short, because each one addressed something
specific and Roy didn't write any filler to make the chapters longer.
Reviewer's personal viewpoint
The contradictions Roy observed are (IMO) part of the overall Muslim
extremist delusion. All of the destruction by these people since the
fall of Saddam Hussein has been pointless and counterproductive. Had
these extremists been capable of rational analysis, they would have
taken an entirely different course and benefited from increased
prosperity and all that entails. Instead, they've been killing off
themselves and everyone around them while ensuring poverty for all.
This point isn't one Roy made. The reason I make it is Roy's account
reveals just how insane these people are, and how little regard they
have for their own country or fellow citizens. The account reveals that
simply by recounting the actions of these people. Roy did make a point
of letting us know the kidnappings are rampant and most of the people
kidnapped are Iraqi citizens. So, this isn't a matter of "freedom
fighters" striking back at invaders. It's a case of criminals engaging
in crime. It's really that simple.
The account here does help us understand the minds (such as they are)
of the people who are doing the kidnappings. I don't know if Roy will
agree with me or not, but to me this just shows that whether we bring
all of our troops home today or stay in Iraq another 20 years, the
outcome will be the same. The only difference is the body count and the
spending that we can't afford.
The book doesn't advocate staying in Iraq or pulling out. The
kidnappers own irrationality makes that particular case.