Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison—Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out
Jason Rezaian’s book Prisoner crackles with the same humor and directness of his journalistic work for the Washington Post and other news outlets prior to his arrest in Iran for suspected espionage. Though there is no real evidence upon which to hold Rezaian and his wife Yeganeh Salehi, the police dug in their heels and kept them in prison; Salehi was released after nearly three months, but Rezaian was held for 544 days.
The brilliance of Prisoner lies in the construction of the book; Rezaian moves the narrative back and forth between his life before prison and his days within it. The contrast clearly establishes he is a man of no threat; his arrest and subsequent prison sentence, then, are farcical to the point of madness. As he recounts his interrogations and the relationships he builds with the prison guards, it is hard to believe he does not show more malice. He makes it clear his time in prison was horrible; being held against one’s will for nothing is unimaginable. But he never characterizes his captors as evil. Rather he illustrates their naiveté and ignorance by way of a blind allegiance to principles and beliefs that make no sense.
Throughout the text, the power of the press is on full display. The efforts of Rezaian’s brother Ali and his wife are largely responsible for his ultimate release, but his colleagues at the Washington Post kept the story in the public eye and made Rezaian a recognizable figure when he finally came home. Rezaian is rightly critical of the Obama era foreign policies that he feels kept him imprisoned longer than necessary, but he is also wryly conscious of why those policies were in place.
While this book should be required reading for anyone interested in Iranian-American relations, it is even more valuable in its portrayal of one man’s fight to stay sane, to remain hopeful, and to believe he would come home.
|Page Count||320 pages|
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|Category||Biographies & Memoirs|