My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me

My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me

by Mahvish Khan


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781586487072
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 06/23/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,286,927
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Mahvish Rukhsana Khan is a recent law school graduate and journalist. She has published in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other media. She lives in San Diego.

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My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
RebeccaScaglione More than 1 year ago
“My Guantanamo Diary” is written by former law student and journalist Mahvish Rukhsana Khan, who has been published in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times. The book tells the story of Mahvish in law school, learning about the injustices that were occurring at Guantanamo Bay, and wanting to get involved. Mahvish begins her journey believing that these men may be terrorists and dangerous criminals, but they deserve a fair trial. She quickly discovers that more of the detainees may be innocent rather than guilty, and the evidence for their detention is slim to none. Mahvish explores some of the Afghan detainee’s stories, their capture, torture, journey through Gitmo, as well as their family life at home. The book does get political (although very easy to read and understand for someone who is not political at all), and has some anti-Bush comments, although it is not anti-America. The stories are touching and the injustices that are committed are hard to argue with. Here are some of the quotes that I found notable from the book, which may help to illustrate what I mean: “While I believe that Guantanamo may hold evil men as well as innocent ones, I also believe that only a full and fair hearing can separate the good from the bad” – Author’s note, xxi “A statistical analysis of DOD documents relating to 517 current and former Guantanamo detainees shows that only 5 percent of the detainees has been captured as a result of U.S. intelligence work.” – p. 59, regarding the fact that many detainees were given up by Pakistani society for large bounties, so big that the bounty could take care of the families for life “The West fears the Muslim world because of the actions of a few bad people, and those bad people are considered just as evil in the Muslim world as they are in America.” – p. 242, spoken by a Gitmo detainee Mahvish also described Afghan society, humanizing the men, women, and children, and reminding readers that there are many Muslims and Afghans out there that are not Taliban, that love America and Americans, and that are suffering injustices due to the Taliban regime. Some startling faces about Afghan life are that the average Afghan earns $0.83 a day, and one in four children dies before the age of five. I highly recommend “My Guantanamo Diary.” It’s a book that will make you think, feel, and maybe research some of the information yourself.
iammbb on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Mahvish Khan was the rare combination of a law student and a fluent Pashto speaker. This made her attractive to the pro bono habeas lawyers who were attempting to represent the detainees at Guantanamo. While still in law school, she signed on with a firm to serve as its interpreter.This book is the result of her observations and experiences in Guantanamo, Pakistan and Afghanistan.Khan is a less than artful wordsmith. She ends up coming off a bit like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, young, at times shallow and yet at other times startlingly graphic and nuanced. Her book alternates between being painful due to her prose and painful due to her subject while also managing to work in a surprisingly personal perspective and a deep degree of empathy for the detainees with whom she deals.Khan claims to be objective,"Though it may appear to some readers that I give ample, and perhaps naive, credence to prisoners' points of view, I have made every effor to verify their accounts and to explore the military's contrasting perspective . . . My objective is simply to tell the stories of some of the men held captive by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, the stories they themselves have never been able to tell."but saying it's so doesn't make it so. She is clearly charmed by all of the detainees she met, even Taj Mohammad, the suspicious "goatherd" whose story, she admits, never added up. She concludes by stating,"I can honestly say that I don't believe any of the Afghans I met were guilty of crimes against the United States. Certainly, some of the Guantanamo detainees were, just not the men I met."Were the men she met truly not guilty or were they simply not guilty because she met them?And yet, that's not the point. Guilty or not, the abuses that Khan details are appalling. Members of the US military performed ghastly acts. Commander Jeffery Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, comes across as particularly ignorant, defensive and asinine.And in the end, there is no disagreeing with Khan's central point,"Some readers may also argue that detainees, or "enemy combatants," as the Defense Department calls them, aren't entitled to the protections of U.S. law. This is an argument I reject. While I believe that Guantanamo may hold evil men as well as innocent ones, I also believe that only a full and fair hearing can separate the good from the bad."And that is the point.
prettypearls on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Overall, this book was engaging and informative. I found Mahvish Khan to be very passionate and genuine and was deeply moved by the stories she shares, but I don't think that I'd go so far as to calling it non-fiction, I think memoir is a better term for this.
KnowWhatILike on LibraryThing 7 months ago
"My Guantanamo Diary" is a book that should be read by all Americans. However, the stories of the torture and humiliation to which the prisoners were subjected were very difficult to read, and ultimately I had to put this book aside, to be finished at a later time.
unknown_zoso05 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Written about her visits with Guantanamo detainees and to Pakistan, Mahvish Khan's piece of non-fiction is simply thought provoking. Khan covers an issue that commonly in the news but is mostly unknown. There is this personal flair included in the book because of the writer's Pakistani roots. Aside from presenting the narratives of a select few detainees and the torture that they experienced, Khan covers a variety of topics, which include the Middle Eastern view on women, that help paint a larger picture of Pakistani life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a book club. I was somewhat skeptical at the beginning but became totally immersed in its telling. Ms. Khan shares her experiences and puts faces on the minimal facts one stumbles over in the daily news about Guantanamo. During our book club discussion, everyone had the same reaction. It is a very important book that needs to be discussed. As I read, I found stories about her contacts with the detainees so interesting. The references she makes about the 3 simultaneous suicides is particularly timely right now as the investigative reporter for Harper's Magazine writes about the confusing details surrounding their deaths. I particularly was fascinated by her visit to Afghanistan not only to visit the families, but the reconfirmation of her own cultural awareness. A badly needed book indeed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago