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Read All Day: "Essential to understand the current situation in Afghanistan."

Date: Mar 8 2010

Daniele Mastrogiacomo was taken prisoner by the Taliban in Afghanistan in March 2007 and Days of Fear is his account of the two weeks he was held captive, moved almost daily from camp to camp, and tortured physically and mentally.  Mastrogiacomo went to  Afghanistan to get a close-up interview with a Taliban commander and he was given an intense and thorough introduction to the Taliban.  At the end of his captivity he was even given a brief interview with the mastermind behind his abduction.  Mastrogiacomo found a Taliban fanatical in religious fervor, disciplined in conduct, and ruthless in the pursuit of strategic power and symbolic demonstration.  Manipulation, degradation, curiosity, religiosity, and cruelty were all part of the Italian's captivity, along with deceit and cold-blooded murder.

An experienced journalist, Mastrogiacomo went into the Taliban territory of Afghanistan certain of a story and dependent upon the interpret and driver he paid to help him.  Both men were taken along with him into captivity and experienced even greater horrors than Mastrogiacomo himself.  Being a westerner did provide a modicum of protection given Mastrogiacomo's value as a hostage.  As for his Afghani translator and driver, their lives were over the minute the Taliban decided its security had been compromised.

Days of Fear is as essential to understanding the current situation in Afghanistan as The Photographer by Didier Lefevre and Emmanuel Guibert is to understanding the Afghani past, the country's struggle against Soviet domination. The future of Afghanistan is being written by the ongoing war and Days of Fear makes the clear connection between Al Qaeda's agenda and the use of the Taliban to further destabilize and manipulate an already mine-ridden, paranoiac, and desperate country.


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