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A true-life adventure sure to shock as well as inspire.
AK47s, masked thugs, and brutal urgency erupt from Roy Hallums' account of his abduction in Iraq, shredding through those frequently sterile cable news reports revealing that another "American contractor is being held hostage . . ."
Hallums was the everyman behind that report―a 56-year-old retired Naval commander working as a food supply contractor in ...
A true-life adventure sure to shock as well as inspire.
AK47s, masked thugs, and brutal urgency erupt from Roy Hallums' account of his abduction in Iraq, shredding through those frequently sterile cable news reports revealing that another "American contractor is being held hostage . . ."
Hallums was the everyman behind that report―a 56-year-old retired Naval commander working as a food supply contractor in Baghdad's high-end Mansour District.
His abduction was transacted in a matter of minutes, amidst a hail of gunfire and a handful of casualties. For the first few months of his captivity, Hallums endured beatings and psychological torture while being shuffled from one ramshackle safe house to another.
From the four-foot-tall crawlspace where he carried out the bulk of his nearly year-long abduction, Hallums established a surprising degree of normalcy―a system of routines and timekeeping, along with an attention to the particulars that defined his horrific ordeal. His experience is recreated here, rich with harrowing specifics and surprising observations.
The traitor's name was Majid. He was one of several men armed with AK-47s whose job it was to protect my coworkers and me at the Saudi Arabian Trading and Construction Company in the upscale Mansour district of Baghdad during the height of the war in Iraq.
The other guards were grateful that warm November evening when Majid offered to stand watch alone at the gateway to our compound, an office building and a private home directly behind it that was surrounded on all sides by a concrete wall. It was the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, and as the sun was setting, it meant that the guards could escape the dust-filled air and head into the office's kitchen to prepare their first meal of the day. I was attending a dinner party given by the company owner, Malek Antabi, who was hosting the affair at the private home next to the office building.
In hindsight, I really wish I had learned to speak Arabic. I spent a great deal of time in the Middle East after I retired as a Naval commander with twenty years of service; I learned a lot about Arab culture and the religion of Islam, but I just didn't have an ear for the language.At the dinner party, all of the guests were speaking in their native language as we ate dates and drank small cups of Arabic coffee. I didn't know what in the world the men were talking about.
As dinner was a long way off, I told my colleague Zein Hussami that I was going to the office to work on some contracts. I asked him to come over and get me when the food was ready, and I headed to work. The rooftop route was the quickest way to go back and forth between the buildings-upstairs to the house's second floor, down a hallway, and through a door that led to a large rooftop patio used for social occasions. A metal bridge connected the house and office building, with about one foot of space separating the buildings; four steps up the bridge, across a short plank, and four steps down, and I was on the other rooftop patio. Crossing it, I opened the door that led to the second floor, where my office was located.
It may sound like a strange path to take, but in addition to being a shortcut, it was much safer than traveling the streets outside of the guarded compound walls. By taking the rooftop route, I avoided the courtyard in front of the office, where vehicles would enter the compound after being cleared by security through a metal gate. The gate that Majid was supposedly guarding.
As I crossed the rooftop, I didn't see anyone. I didn't hear anything, other than my stomach, which was rumbling as I settled into the chair in front of my desk to catch up on some e-mail and go over food contracts we were negotiating with the American Army. I kept an eye on my office doorway, hoping Zein would appear soon and announce that dinner was finally ready.
But the masked gunmen got to me first-four of them, armed with AK-47s, a silenced Sterling machine pistol, and a Tariq 9mm, the standard-issue pistol for the Iraqi Army. The men rushed into my office with their weapons drawn. A knowledge of Arabic wasn't necessary. "Come with us or we will kill you," one of the men said in clear English.
My instinct was to grab the 9mm pistol within arm's reach on my desk. It had one round in the chamber, ready to fire, and fifteen rounds in the magazine. An MP5 machine gun was in a file cabinet behind me; it was not within arm's reach.
Shoot it out-that's the training I received. If you are ever in a kidnapping situation, shoot it out, don't get caught, and don't get taken alive. Good advice, I suppose. I could have easily killed one of the men but not all of them, and they would have gunned me down within moments.
It was a split-second decision. I decided to live.
I signaled my decision by standing up slowly and allowing the kidnappers to walk me through the door and into the hallway.
I didn't know who these Arab men were or why they were after me. There were several possibilities to consider. Perhaps they were just one of the Mafia-like criminal gangs roaming the war-torn country and kidnapping wealthy Iraqis for ransom. A (much worse) possibility I didn't want to consider was that these men were part of the insurgent terrorist cell led by the ferocious Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. A notorious terrorist known to have links with Al-Qaeda, Zarqawi and his thugs were abducting and beheading their hostages in 2004, then releasing scenes of their gruesome murders on videotapes that were aired on the Internet and Al Jazeera television, an Arab-language news network. My best hope was that these armed-and-masked thugs, who looked to be in their twenties and thirties, were Iraqi "businessmen" who kidnapped for a living.
Hope is not a sound strategy, but it was all I had.
The man holding the Tariq pistol raised it to my head and ordered me to follow him downstairs. We passed by the closed office door of another American employee; then we turned right and went down about a dozen steps in the stairwell. When we got to the first floor, I was pushed into the hallway on my right and ordered to lie facedown on the floor.
Once downstairs, I saw that more than twenty masked and armed men had overrun the office. Majid was with them. He wasn't wearing a mask and was not even trying to hide from view. In fact, he was very busy helping some of the gang members as they looted the main office and ripped through file cabinets.
Majid was a traitor, all right. He had unlocked the iron security gate and quietly led the gang into our building. They walked right through the main door and into the front office without a fight.
Some of the gang members started to carry computers outside. A few of the men went back upstairs to my office, but for some reason, they didn't take my computer.
With Majid's inside help, the gang had caught our security men off guard while they were cooking their dinner in the kitchen at the rear of the building. From the hall, I could see the guards were also lying facedown on the floor underneath the dining table. Their arms were pinned behind their backs, and their wrists were bound with nylon handcuffs that looked something like large strap twist ties. I noticed they were similar to the ones carried on commercial airplanes to detain drunken passengers or would-be hijackers.
The guards had not made any noise, as the gang quickly took control of the first floor of the office building. I wondered why the guards had done nothing to protect us; why they didn't warn us we were under attack. If the guards had fired their weapons at the intruders, signaling an attack, I would have had time to grab my machine gun. My American colleague, Alex Loggins, was in his office right next door to mine, and he was also armed. Together, firing from the top of the stairwell, we might have been able to defend ourselves against these hoodlums.
That's when I realized that Alex wasn't downstairs with me; he was probably still back upstairs in his office, hiding behind a closed and presumably locked door. I guess the kidnappers had only taken me because my door was open; they had ignored the closed door that concealed Alex, probably thinking it led to a closet.
And now I was downstairs, unarmed and unaided, surrounded by armed men who were either dressed in traditional Arab robes or wearing dark, cotton jogging suits. All of them wore masks-except the traitor.
The man with the Tariq pistol who had shoved me to the floor suddenly yanked my arms behind my back and strapped my hands together with the nylon tie cuffs. He asked me if I spoke Arabic.
"No," I replied honestly. "I only speak English."
"Is there anyone else upstairs?" the gunman asked.
"No," I lied. "I was the only one."
He seemed satisfied by my answer and helped me to my feet; then he and the armed men began moving their hostages out of the office building. Altogether there were six captives: myself; three Iraqis, whom I would never see again; a Filipino man named Robert Tarongoy, who would remain quietly by my side throughout most of my ordeal; and our "tea boy," who was from Nepal. (He was the employee who served us hot tea every day, but to his misfortune, he was not serving at the dinner party that night.)
We were shoved into the kitchen, past the stove, where the guards' food was still cooking, outside through a secondary doorway, and onto the front patio, where the iron gate gave access to the street. All I have to do is stay alive, I told myself. The longer I can, the better it will be for my family.
I was sure I would be killed; if I lived even until the end of the week, I was certain that would be a miracle. But a week would be good for my family, I thought. At least that would give them time to find out what had happened to me; to adjust to the fact of my kidnapping; to mentally prepare for my eventual death.
But first, they would have to come to terms with a little misconception on my part-I never told them that I had been transferred from Saudi Arabia to Baghdad. I didn't want my family and friends to worry about me working in a war zone, so I simply did not tell them. For all they knew, I was still working in Saudi Arabia, where the company's headquarters was located.
Although my wife, Susan, and I had divorced the previous year after thirty years of marriage, we remained good friends. She was living in California, where she had just bought a new house, and I was still making payments to her under the divorce settlement, which helped her pay the mortgage. My oldest daughter, Carrie, and her husband, Rob, also lived in California, where Carrie worked as a family therapist and was helping children with autism. My youngest daughter, Amanda, was back in my hometown of Memphis with her little girl, my beautiful granddaughter, Sabrina, who was just eight years old.
I was, and still am, extremely loyal to my family. However, as I thought about them over the weeks and months ahead, I also had occasion to be grateful that I didn't have any pictures or letters from my family in my office, and that the black gym bag there, which contained every piece of information regarding who I was and where I came from, was dismissed as worthless and left behind by my kidnappers. All of my identification-driver's license, passport, and my retired military ID-was in that bag, folded inside a tan, walletlike pack that was on a long, cloth strap, so I could wear it around my neck when traveling to the U.S. Embassy and military bases throughout Baghdad. Ironically, the identification pack had a small American flag embroidered just beneath a zipper that held my cash, and beside the flag, stitched in dark brown, were the words Iraqi Freedom. The front of the pack showed my United States Defense Department uniformed service card, which identified me as a contractor-a Geneva Convention card for civilians accompanying the armed forces. Next to it was my Baghdad embassy identification card. When the pack was opened, it showed my Saudi Arabia Trading Company contractor card, as well as my weapons permit.
All of the ID cards bore various pictures of me; I had just turned fifty-six on June 23, and the photos revealed that my age was beginning to show. My hair was still dark brown, but the gray had mostly taken over my short-cropped beard and moustache. Blue eyes in some of the pictures looked through prescription glasses, which I had worn nearly all of my life.
The identification packed inside the duffel bag was locked away in the cabinet across from my desk, ready in case I ever had to make a hasty exit from Baghdad. Thank God, my kidnappers didn't ask me to get my things, and they didn't take the packed bag. For one thing, it would have meant certain death for me if they had discovered my retired military ID card, proof I had connections to the American military.
I joined the service in 1972 doing mostly logistics and government contracting, but I also had a security clearance and spent the first few years working in intelligence at the Pentagon with the Naval Security Group. After my retirement from the United States Navy, I went to work for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, supporting the Saudi Eastern Fleet on the Persian Gulf, and I started working for the Saudi Arabia Trading Company in March 2004.
It was difficult to leave my family behind in the States, but Navy families get used to long separations. I still had a lot of good years in me, and the job in Iraq was a great opportunity to make a lot of money for my family and a more comfortable retirement for myself once I did finally pack it in and head back home to Memphis. I knew it would be hazardous work, but that was why the pay was so good, as my captors could attest.
Also tucked inside my identification pack was eight thousand dollars in cash. There were no banks operating in Baghdad, so I had to carry the money with me at all times. This was money I had saved for a Thanksgiving vacation back home-a stop in Memphis to see Amanda and my granddaughter, plus a visit with my sister, Barbara. Then I would fly to California to see Carrie and her husband. Maybe I would also stop in and see Susan and check out her new house.
Though the gang who took me captive never did learn anything about my family or me that day, they did take the vacation cash. So much for my vacation-I spent the next 311 days in captivity, virtually buried alive.
Alex had heard the commotion in my office and the gunmen taking me captive, and had waited behind his locked office door for an opportunity to alert my colleagues at the dinner party about the attack. But as the armed bullies pushed me outside and toward the front gate, where a caravan of Chevy Impalas, Toyota trucks, and Camry sedans had surrounded our compound, I heard gunfire erupt from inside the office building. At first I was afraid that the kidnappers had found Alex and that the shooting signaled his death, but as soon as Alex thought the coast was clear on the second floor, he burst out of his office, with a rain of cover fire from his Glock 9mm pistol, and ran to the doorway leading to the roof. Once there, he leaned over a concrete wall and fired down on the now scattering gang members. One of the kidnappers in the front courtyard, who, as it turned out, was not a skilled marksman, responded with rapid fire from his AK-47. He didn't aim the weapon at the roof; he just fired wildly into the air in all directions.
I was certain that my boss and the other guests at the party heard the shots fired by Alex and the returning fire, but gunshots in Baghdad were not uncommon: it could mean trouble-or signal a wedding or other celebration. Knowing this, Alex ran across the rooftop and bounded over the metal bridge to the other rooftop and down the stairs where the party was being held, so he could tell my boss about the attack.
Almost everyone in Iraq owns guns, and the Iraqi businessmen in attendance were no exception. The only problem was, they'd all left their AK-47s in their cars, which were parked in the front courtyard-where a major gun battle was about to erupt.
Meanwhile, the house across the street from the compound, where I lived with Zein and a British citizen named Mike Page, was loaded with weapons: AK-47s, an MP5, 9mm pistols, 12-gauge shotguns, tons of ammunition, even hand grenades. Earlier that year, Zein and I had checked out of a hotel after terrorists started bombing hotels where foreigners were staying. The last straw for us was after a suicide bomber drove his van into a hotel lobby about four blocks from our hotel, killing several guests. After that attack, we moved into Mike's house. This was a relatively safer part of the city, so we thought we would be more secure. All of the houses and our office in our neighborhood are two stories and are constructed out of concrete blocks with steel bars across the windows. Concrete walls with a steel gate surround the houses, and while many of our colleagues also hired their own personal Iraqi guards for extra security in their homes, we did not. We'd heard far too many stories about guards being bribed by gang members to allow them access into homes so they could kidnap their residents. We didn't trust the private guards and instead armed our home and ourselves heavily. Unfortunately, most of the arms were over there, and I was not.
Excerpted from BURIED ALIVE by ROY HALLUMS AUDREY HUDSON Copyright © 2009 by Roy Hallums. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted October 22, 2010
Roy was a 56 year old retired Naval commander working for a food supply contractor in Baghdad's high-end Mansour district. In 2004, Roy was kidnapped by gunmen who stormed his Office. 3 Iraqi's and a Filipino Robert was kidnapped along with him. After shuffling Roy and Robert to a few places, they finally kept them in an underground cell in a house in the middle of nowhere. For 311 days Roy along with Robert survived hellish conditions while being blindfolded and handcuffed most of the time. Buried Alive is the story of their survival and hope against all odds.I admire Roy for his courage and his ability to stay sane in the most trying circumstances. Buried Alive is not just a hostage drama. We also get a glimpse into how kidnapping became a business to make money, to bargain or simply to spread terror in foreign countries. The most surprising information was how many Iraqis are kidnapped for extortion. We hear about people from various nationalities being kidnapped and the various foreign government efforts to negotiate, what we don't hear often is how these kidnappers take hostage their own countrymen to get money. The book also gives us a glimpse into Roy's family and how they dealt with his kidnapping. Also, it was interesting to see how the FBI controlled every aspect of information sent/ given about the kidnapping. When I started this book my progress was a little slow but after 50 pages, I just breezed through it. Buried Alive is also a good look behind all those kidnapping and killing videos we've see on the news. Horrifying but true. Recommended.
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Posted December 11, 2012
This book will make you think about your faith and trusting God as a human being. After the author spent over 300 in capture in Iraq, one would say the author would be mad at God. However, he grew closer to God through his experience. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good thriller or wants to learn how to grow closer to God in all different walks of life.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 1, 2012
Posted June 19, 2010
Well, 'Buried Alive' was the book I was really waiting for. I had this much profound interest regarding the atrocities and disasters that are going on in war-ridden countries like Iraq, Afghanistan. I went through the books like 'A Thousand Slendid Suns' and 'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hussaini, and all these books made me is more touchy about the situations.
And then, I happened to get a handful of this piece.
Contractor Roy Hallums recounts the harrowing ten months he was held captive by Iraqi insurgents, the heroic rescue by American troops, and the faith that helped him survive it all.
In November 2004 Roy Hallums was working late at his office in Iraq at the Saudi Arabian Trading and Construction Company, supposedly well-protected by armed security guards, when four kidnappers broke in and hauled him away at gunpoint. The next ten months were the darkest of his life. Hallums spent most of his time in a concrete pit beneath a farmhouse, constantly bound and blindfolded. A small pipe in the ceiling provided the room's only oxygen - and its only link to the outside world. Hallums banked on one group in particular not forgetting his existence-the US military. And sure enough, on September 7, 2006, they successfully rescued him. This is the edge-of-your-seat story of a trip through hell for Hallums, the daring rescue mission, and faith that brought him through the experience.
Feedback: Buried Alive is a story of humiliation and terror that Roy had to face during his ten months of captivity by the Iraqi insurgents. Many a times while going through the book, I was having flashbacks of the 2009 movie 'Brothers' starring Toby Maguire of Spiderman fame. In a short stint in the movie it was shown how he and one of his friends were being kept captive. Finally, the character of Toby in the film was forced to kill his friend and what followed was a horror filled life on his own. Little wonder that he could not forgive himself.
These emotions and sentiments are reflected in this book. Though not the exact same ways, but then, when you are suffering due to the mistakes you have never done, the language of pain is all the same all throughout.
Verdict: 'Buried Alive' is a must read book - It gives an insight to the ones who want to know about the problems and insurgencies in the Middle-East. And also this book gives people like me more facts and figures about the same. Terror, torture can never win over life, the final triumph gives this sermon to everyone.
Posted April 8, 2010
Buried Alive was a gripping story of an American working in Iraq who was kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents. He was held captive for 311 days and eventually rescued.
COULD NOT stop reading this book. finished it in a matter of a few days! The author's attention to recounting the details of his captivity was surprising. I imagine if I were being held captive blindfolded, I'm not sure I would be able to recount such detail.
Well written and a great story of not losing faith in extreme situations.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Posted March 16, 2010
Buried Alive: The True Story of Kidnapping, Captivity, and a Dramatic Rescue, tells the horrific story of Roy Hallums, an American contractor who was taken hostage while working in Baghdad. This is a story of strong will, determination, and most of all, hope. God's gentle rainfall gave Roy the promise of seeing his way out of this ordeal - alive!
While most of us would have an extremely difficult time reliving such painful memories, Roy is able to detail his captivity and show us how innocent people, like himself, are still suffering in Iraq today. Our hats are off to the brave men and women who risk their lives to rescue these captives. This story makes you take a step back and reevaluate your own situation when you might think you are having a bad day.
(Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.)
Posted March 16, 2010
1st of all I was drawn to this book for several different reasons I chose this book because it was written by Roy Hallums, a retired U.S. Navy Commander and also because he was held captive in Iraq and it is his true story of what happened to him. I was born on a base and raised on one and I definitely respect the fact that he served our country and had to endure all of the beatings and torture that he did and survived.
Roy Hallums, a retired U.S. Navy Commander, worked as a civilian contractor in Iraq. He was taken captive and his life as he knew it was over in just a matter of minutes. He was taken from his office and thrown into a car, a black mask was put over his head and this begins his 311 days of torture.
Roy Hallums was taken captive, beaten, tortured and never knew when it was going to happen or if he would survive it. His story takes us through a journey with him and explains to us what he went through and how he felt on a daily basis and how he was buried alive and rescued by Special Forces.
I really enjoyed this book from beginning to end. The book is written in a manner that takes you into his life and explains everything in a way that makes you feel you are there. It is easy to read and understand. At first I thought I might have a problem with understanding some of it as I don't know the different types of guns and and some of the lingo used. He explained the words used and what they meant. I loved that aspect about the book. I didn't have to look up what an arabic word meant or words used by the military because I think he just realized most people don't use those words in civilian life and just explains them to us.
I found myself wondering what I would do in his situation and how a person could survive some of the things he explains. He never complained about what was happening to him he was worried about everyone else and how his family was holding up. My heart just sank when he had his hopes up to being saved and then he was just beaten again and again. I felt scared when he did and joy when I knew the special forces were there to get him it brought tears to my eyes. I found myself feeling for the family as he was going through this. I was raised in the military and I know what it feels like to have a loved one overseas. I know what it is like to not know. But to know that he was kidnapped, seeing what he is going through and not being able to do anything about it. That has to be so much worse.
I am very glad that I have had this opportunity read his book. It brings a lot of things to light. You might think when you see the news about how someone is kidnapped over there how bad it must be but to really know and understand what really happens is totally different. Everything is told in a matter that you understand and with details that are not gruesome in anyway. I will look at the news of kidnappings over there in a different way now. I feel this book was a great learning experience as well as a wonderful read. I do recommend this book to anyone.
I would like to thank Roy Hallums for his service to our country and a big thanks to the military forces that go into these hostile areas to save our loved ones in their time of need. I just think that they should be recognized more for what they do for us. Thanks again.
I was provided this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing Company as part of their BookSneeze book review bloggers program. This review is of my own honest opinion on
Posted March 8, 2010
In Buried Alive, Roy Hallums recounts his story simply with no dramatics, just his courage and strength. His faith in God and Country shines throughout the narration. Suffering unbearable cruelty, humiliation and starvation, he takes each day one at a time.
Mr, Hallums was sealed in a concrete tomb for months sometime with other captives, sometime alone. He turns those long hours into "adventures": an incredible road trip across the US one day, a visit with family and friends another day. These mind travels allow him to stay in control during his confinement.
To this day this is the only American rescued and I guarantee this to be a hard book to put down.
I gave it a 5 star!
I received a copy of this book from BookSneeze to write a review.
Posted March 1, 2010
It's a true story of an American who, while working in Iraq as a contractor, was kidnapped and tortured by Iraqi insurgents and held for over 300 days. 300 days, people. Imagine being blindfolded, rationing out small portions of mostly rotted food for a every three day span (if you were lucky), being beaten, having to make videos to plea for your life, and little to no communication with other hostages for over 300 days. If that isn't a description of hell I don't know what would be.
What I really enjoyed about this book (well there were several) was that through the whole thing, Roy had a sense of humor. His extensive military training (he was retired from the military but knew if his captors knew that he'd be dead) probably helped him quite a bit. He seemed level headed enough to be able to take mental notes of everything, to keep track of time by paying attention to the Islamic prayers he heard, and was smart enough to figure out what he should/shouldn't do to make it out of there alive.
I will confess right here and now that I don't pay attention to the news coverage. I know this may seem idealic and naive, but to me, I know it's something I can't fix. Me watching the constant barrage of news coverage is not going to make a difference. And because I don't watch it- I really have no clue about the war, why there is a war, why people are kidnapped, etc. This book really enlightened me. Am I going to watch the news now? Probably not. Am I going to click on a news link about hostages? Yes. I most likely will. Because I can't even imagine what that is like.
What also surprised me was how really unintelligent these people are (meaning the kidnappers and radical groups). I mean one could argue that they have some intelligence if they are kidnapping people in the hopes for ransom payouts in order to fund their insurgency. Sure. I'd give you that. Two points crazy people. BUT, the book really highlighted that despite what you see/read on the news, they are highly unorganized. They couldn't find their ass from their elbow. And despite all of this- it leaves me baffled that the United States, supposedly this really smart (debatable) and powerful country can't beat them. What gives?!
The other thing that I know is probably more true than we'd like is how uncooperative the US Government was to Roy Hallums' family. Really, FBI? You can't just give them an update? You can't just say, "We have no clue where he is. Sorry" ?? I'm probably going to get red flagged but I'm sorry. I just think there needs to be a little more bedside manner instead of all of the red tape.
Posted February 26, 2010
Buried Alive is the account of the kidnapping of 56 year old Roy who lived and worked in Bagdad. This book is a first hand account of 311 days of captivity.
First let me make it clear that I am glad Roy Hallums made it back home to his family and friends. I can't imagine even after having read the book what it was like for him day after day. However I found the book itself lacking. It lacked emotions and was fairly robotic in nature when it came to Mr. Hallums trying to explain what he felt and endured.
There was sense that he was holding out on the reader. Maybe it was because the experience itself was so horrible that his mind will only allow him to share the surface emotions of his captivity. I wanted to be inspired by Mr. Hallums' experience I was only saddened by his choice to live in an unsafe country. Bagdad is not exactly a tourist haunt. As americans we must consider our choices especially when they put our soldiers at risk.
There were some elements in the book I didn't enjoy at all. There was more smoke than fire.
The Hallums family account gave me more understanding on exactly what a family has to endure in this situation. They opened their hearts for this book and I don't take that lightly. I just wish Mr. Hallums would have let us in, but I think I understand why maybe he just couldn't.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
Posted February 19, 2010
I picked up this book because it seemed like a compelling topic. It was written by a man who was kidnapped and held hostage in Iraq for about a year. The book tells his story, from his point of view. I wasn't really sure what to expect from the book, and I have mixed feelings about it now that I'm finished with it. It's, obviously, a compelling story....most of us can't imagine going through something so horrible! At the same time, I found myself somewhat annoyed by the way the book was written. It had a tendency to jump from topic to topic and was somewhat fragmented. It didn't flow very well, and was often repetitive. I found myself transfixed by the story in the beginning, yet by the end I just couldn't wait to finish.
I didn't see really emphasis on Roy's faith. I was kind of expecting a story about how God got him through his ordeal (since Thomas Nelson is a religious publisher), but that aspect really wasn't mentioned. It didn't bother ME, but it might bother some people if that's what they were hoping to find. It's basically just a detailed account of what happened to him, and really didn't go very deep emotionally.
For those interested in politics or current affairs, it would probably be a good read. We don't hear a lot about this aspect of the war, so it was interesting to get a little insight. Just don't expect to be blown away....the writing is relatively unimpressive.
Posted February 15, 2010
"Go into your bathroom, shut the door, push a towel underneath it, and then turn out the lights and curl up on the floor. Try it for fifteen minutes. Now imagine that you are also blindfolded, with a wool ski mask pulled over your head, tied up by your ankles and wrists, and the floor is concrete. For 311 days"
This is just a brief description from "Buried Alive" of the conditions under which Roy Hallums was held captive in 2004 by terrorists. Abducted from his workplace in Baghdad he and eventually 10 other hostages were held in the utmost of filthy conditions, suffering beatings, near starvation, humiliation, and fear of being killed for even the slightest movement. This story tells of his horrific experience intertwined with the difficulties his family was dealing with in the states. His strong faith, perspective on survival, and determination to live and return home was evident throughout the entire book. I also found interesting the many nuances towards cultural oddities, the "keystone cops" strategy of his kidnappers, and the lack of cooperation between countries of the other hostages all held captive at this same time. I would definitely recommend this book but be prepared for descriptives that may make the hair an the back of your neck bristle at the evilness that truly exists in this world.
"Two weeks ago, while all eyes were on Hurricane Katrina, something extraordinary happened. In a remote farmhouse fifty miles south of Baghdad, coalition forces rescued an American hostage, fifty-seven year old Roy Hallums. Hostage taking has become an ongoing, insidious part of the terrorism in iraq. Two hundred foreigners, including over a dozen Americans, and thousands of Iraqis, have been abducted since the war started. Some hostages are killed, others ransomed. Roy Hallums was rescued. He was found virtually buried underground, blindfolded with his arms and legs bound. He had survived ten month in utter darkness"
Lesley Stahl's introduction for a segment on 60 Minutes
Posted February 8, 2010
Buried Alive by Roy Hallum tells the story of Hallum's harrowing kidnapping at the hands of Islamic extremist and his rescue. Hallum's story is not just for those interested in the War in Iraq, or Islamic extremism or American Patriotism, or anything of that nature really; in fact it is a great read for anyone interested in exploring situations that we are only aware of in our periphery; and even then in a generally fictional setting. Hallum's story is unique in that he is one of few to have survived such an ordeal and in his unassuming style he provides the reader a look into his 311 day long captivity at the hands of a militant extremist group. His kidnapping and subsequent rescue by coalition forces are detailed in a manner that makes this book accessible for not only the knowledgeable but also those unfamiliar with the minutia of the political and military climate of Iraq. Hallum and his interviewer Audrey Hudson describe not only the retired Navy commander turned contractor's ordeal but also the circumstances that put Hallum in the position to be kidnapped. Buried Alive's story is more than just interesting, it is a testament to the strength of hope and faith and would be a great addition to any person's bookshelf.
*** I was provided a free copy of this title by Thomas Nelson Publishing for the purpose of reviewing this title as part of the Book Sneeze program***
Posted February 7, 2010
This book is Roy Hallums' account of his kidnapping at the hands of Iraqi insurgents and his 300 plus day psychological journey while in captivity. While his personal account is fascinating, he also includes accounts of his family members and outlines the trails and tribulations they faced while he was held hostage. Particularly poignant are the diary excerpts that are written by his daughter Carrie. These diary entries illustrate the numerous and onerous challenges the family faces in regards to dealing with government and media while attempting to cope with the unknown status of their father.
Written in a first person narrative, the text provides a grizzly account of life in captivity. The brutality and traumatizing conditions outlined by the author provides insight into the cruelty that can be found in Iraq. Further, throughout the book the author provides commentary on religious philosophy (particularly Islam) that is thought-provoking but presented at times in a way that some may be offensive to some. Overall, this book is recommended for those interested in a fascinating (and at times graphic) insight into one mans' struggle for survival in the most trying of conditions.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Posted February 5, 2010
"*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html>: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
5 star "Buried Alive" by Roy Hallums
The true story of an American food supply contractor in Baghdad, who survived capture of 311 days. He was 56 with a family back in the Untied States. He had worked in Saudi Arabia for 10 years prior to this assignment, yet nothing could have prepared him for that one day.
This could happen to anyone and in 2004 it happened to many.
Well written, descriptive, informative, with a broad-brush stroke of historical background, sometimes horrific, yet written with control.
Ray Hallums tells his story with a bit of humor and calmness. The timelines he lays out for the reader allow you to be in that moment and connect with him and brings you back to where you may been during those months as well.
He explains the tragic events and abuse with a steadiness and faith that few may have duplicated. He had to stay calm and trust that he would survive each encounter. The second story is that of his family and how information was released to them, their reactions and fight to find ways to bring him home. Their plea with the US government to help free him from his kidnappers could not be resolved by paying the 12 million dollar ransom.
The historical background put this book and what happened to Ray in perspective for me. Reading how the contractors and aid workers functioned in a frightening environment day by day brought me closer to why we are fighting this war.
His encounters were harrowing and the rescue effort was a fingernail biter! This book moves quickly and will hold your attention. The author has a way of making you feel as if you were there with him. I recommend it.
Posted February 5, 2010
Buried Alive is Roy Hallums' personal account of being held prisoner by Iraqis for a year before being rescued by American troops. He endured terrible hardships and treatment, surviving by taking one day at a time.
Usually when I see a book like this, it's written with the help of a co-author who has written other books. Here, the book is written by Mr. Hallums, and it shows in how the book is structured. When I first started reading it, I was overwhelmed by the excruciating detail of what the Iraqis did to their prisoners. It was, quite literally, one thing after another, and we kept getting the same things described over and over again in a high level of detail. It made for tough reading, and I put down the book and couldn't bring myself back to reading it for a while.
The story would have been better balanced if every few chapters it broke away and showed us what was happening at home with his wife. With such a difficult subject, this reader needs a breather and didn't get one. The book does bring his wife into book much later in the book, but if I hadn't been reading this for review, I would have not gotten there.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Posted February 4, 2010
"Buried Alive", by Roy Hallums is an extremely thought provoking true story of being kidnapped and held by extremists in Iraq. The story is told through and by the author, Roy Hallums, as he takes the reader from the beginning to the end of a very painful and secluded imprisonment. Most of the time, he is held underground and literally buried alive by his captors.
As you pick up this book, you see the shadow of a man who appears to be in a seated position, with his hands behind his back, probably tied and his eyes are blindfolded. It appears that he is in a dark place and very uncomfortable. Reading the introduction gives you just a brief look into what this man went through for so many days and months. I can only imagine the courage and fortitude he had to endure such treatment and conditions.
Hallums tells his story in a matter of fact and simple way which brings the reader right into the scenes as well as giving the reader such vivid detail that no one can miss the terror he must have felt, with the beatings and degradation. One can only guess how he felt, not knowing whether he was going to come out this terror alive or would he be beheaded like so many in the past had been.
It seems strange to point out here that this story was told in vivid and chilling detail, and this reader could not put the book down. You will become completely absorbed into the story, waiting to find out what is going to happen next.
What can be learned from the story, is that with the right mind set and courage, even the most brutal of conditions can be overcome. Hallums appears to be a man of faith and he spent a lot of time praying and thinking about his family. He endured the conditions and initial movements from one site to the next, with a hope of survival and eventual rescue.
Another segment of his story deals with how his family dealt with his kidnapping. First the family is kept completely out of the loop of information, even to the point where officials were telling them not to speak to the media for fear that Hallums captors would find out more about the man they held captive. This could have been dangerous for Hallums as he is a retired U. S. Naval Commander, who was a civilian contractor in Iraq, at the time of his kidnapping.
The eventual rescue is also something to wait for.
This story is in deed a must read for anyone who wants to know exactly what happens to kidnap victims, however, as Hallums notes, he was lucky. Not all kidnap victims get out alive, and very seldom is there a successful escape. This story is rated 5 stars. A very compelling story, not to be missed.
Posted January 30, 2010
BURIED ALIVE by Roy Hallums
Roy Hallums decided to go to his office to do a little work, while he waited for dinner to be served. Suddenly, he found himself surrounded by four armed men, and kidnapped, along with 6 others, from a compound in Baghdad Iraq. One of the other victims, Robert Tarongoy, a Filipino, remained with him through most of the 311 days he was held in captivity. They were held, sometimes in homes, sometimes in sheds, and for the major portion of the time, in an underground hole under the floor of a house about 40 miles from Baghdad. There wasn't room to stand, and the only light they had was a five watt bulb, which was turned off most of the time.
This is Mr. Hallums own account of that 311-day captivity, never knowing if or when he would be fed, allowed use of a bathroom, beaten, or even killed.
I really enjoyed, if you can call reading of someone's misery and misfortune enjoyable, reading how Mr. Hallums managed to keep count of the days, and his sanity, during his captivity, and how most of his thoughts were of his daughters and grandchild.
No money was paid for this review, I recieved a free copy of this book to read and review.
Posted January 26, 2010
Roy Hallums was a 56 year old retired Navel Commander who was working for a food supply contractor in Iraq. On November 1, 2004, Roy was abducted and held hostage for 311 days. During his first few months, Roy was beaten and mentally tortured while he was moved from place to place. Then, he came to his last prison, a 4 foot high basement that he was kept in, blindfolded and bound, until he was finally rescued.
I was eager to read Roy's story, as I remember when Roy was abducted, and the video that was sent to the media, as well as the interviews with his family. Roy's book held me in it's grips from beginning to end. I am amazed at his resilience and bravery not only to go back over his time in captivity, but to how he told his story so eloquently. I cannot imagine one surviving what Roy had, let alone staying sane and in control all throughout the ordeal.
I cannot speak highly enough about this book, nor highly enough of how Roy is helping others to get a grasp of what happens to someone who is abducted in Iraq. This book was an excellent read and very well written and should be put on everyone's to-read list for this year!
Posted January 25, 2010
I was really anticipating getting to read this book. Buried Alive is about a man, Roy Hallums, who is held captive in Iraq for 311 days from 2004-2005.. This book is about his struggle to stay alive and make it back home. This is a true story told by Roy Hallums after he was rescued by coalition forces.
This story is very frightening and opens your eyes as to what is going on in Iraq. It is very scary what the prisoners of war deal with. You get a bird's eye view of the horrors they face. Roy Hallums gives you the whole story by including when and how his family found out about his capture. You are also updated throughout the book as to how they felt and what they went through to have his capture revealed. At first his capture was kept secret until the family went to the news. I felt very sad and and discouraged while reading this true account. No one knew where he was. No one knew where he had gone. Reading how his rescuers brought him back home makes you wish they could go in and get all the prisoners. But some prisoners get killed before they have a chance of being rescued and some are never found. This book left me glad that he was rescued but overall sad about the whole situation in Iraq.