The Dawn Prayer (or How to Survive in a Secret Syrian Terrorist Prison)

By Matthew Schrier
Read by Michael David Axtell

9.79 Hours 04/03/2018 unabridged
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A photographer captured in Syria and imprisoned for seven months recounts his story and how he became the first American ever to escape al-Qaeda. “What is your name?” asked General Mohammad. “Matthew,” I said. I had stopped saying Matt a while ago because it means ‘dead’ in Arabic. On New Year’s Eve in 2012, Matthew Schrier was headed home from Syria, where he’d been photographing the intense combat of the country’s civil war. Just forty-five minutes from the safety of the Turkish border, he was taken prisoner by the al-Nusra Front, an organization the world would come to know as the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda. Over the next seven months he would endure torture and near starvation in six brutal terrorist prisons. He would face a daily struggle just to survive. And, eventually, he would escape. In this gripping, raw, and surprisingly funny memoir, Schrier details the horrifying and frequently surreal experience of being a slight, wisecracking Jewish guy held captive by the world’s most violent Islamic extremists. Managing to keep his heritage a secret, Schrier used humor to develop relationships with his captors—and to keep himself sane during the long months of captivity. The Dawn Prayer (or How to Survive in a Secret Syrian Terrorist Prison) is a tale of patriotism and unimaginable bleakness shot through with light, of despair and friendship, sacrifice and betrayal, in a setting of bombed-out buildings and shifting alliances. It’s the story of the first Westerner to escape al-Qaeda—not a battle-hardened soldier, but an ordinary New Yorker who figured out how to set his escape plan in motion from a scene in Jurassic Park. From the prisoners’ fiercely competitive hacky sack games and volleyball tournaments (played using a ball made of shredded orange peels and a shoelace) to his own truly nail-biting breakout, Matthew Schrier’s story is unforgettable—and one you won’t want to miss.

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Summary

Summary

A photographer captured in Syria and imprisoned for seven months recounts his story and how he became the first American ever to escape al-Qaeda.

“What is your name?” asked General Mohammad.
“Matthew,” I said. I had stopped saying Matt a while ago because it means ‘dead’ in Arabic.

On New Year’s Eve in 2012, Matthew Schrier was headed home from Syria, where he’d been photographing the intense combat of the country’s civil war. Just forty-five minutes from the safety of the Turkish border, he was taken prisoner by the al-Nusra Front, an organization the world would come to know as the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda.

Over the next seven months he would endure torture and near starvation in six brutal terrorist prisons. He would face a daily struggle just to survive. And, eventually, he would escape.

In this gripping, raw, and surprisingly funny memoir, Schrier details the horrifying and frequently surreal experience of being a slight, wisecracking Jewish guy held captive by the world’s most violent Islamic extremists. Managing to keep his heritage a secret, Schrier used humor to develop relationships with his captors—and to keep himself sane during the long months of captivity.

The Dawn Prayer (or How to Survive in a Secret Syrian Terrorist Prison) is a tale of patriotism and unimaginable bleakness shot through with light, of despair and friendship, sacrifice and betrayal, in a setting of bombed-out buildings and shifting alliances. It’s the story of the first Westerner to escape al-Qaeda—not a battle-hardened soldier, but an ordinary New Yorker who figured out how to set his escape plan in motion from a scene in Jurassic Park. From the prisoners’ fiercely competitive hacky sack games and volleyball tournaments (played using a ball made of shredded orange peels and a shoelace) to his own truly nail-biting breakout, Matthew Schrier’s story is unforgettable—and one you won’t want to miss.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“A searing narrative of personal courage and the determination to survive.” Philip S. Balboni, CEO and executive editor of DailyChatter and founder of GlobalPost
“If I ever had a chance to pick a guide to walk through hell, that would be, no doubt, Matt Schrier…Clear, powerful, and enlightening.” Juan Ríos, Spanish Mission to the United Nations
“A thrilling documentary that reads like a novel…Take a deep breath before you begin reading; there is no breathing room in the pages of this one!” A. B. Grantham, Commandant, Department of Alabama, Marine Corps League
“A tightly told story of brutal survival, unexpected friendships, and ultimate escape…Engrossing.” Billy Hayes, author of Midnight Express
“One of the most terrifying and suspenseful books I’ve ever read. This is an absolutely extraordinary story.” Sebastian Junger, New York Times bestselling author and journalist

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Matthew Schrier

Matthew Schrier is from Deer Park, New York, and a graduate of Hofstra University, where he studied film production and English. In 2013 he became the first Westerner to ever escape from al-Qaeda. His story has been covered by 60 Minutes, the New York Times, and CNN. Since his return home, Schrier has devoted himself to working with the US military, using his experience in Syria to educate American troops about survival after capture by extremists.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography
Runtime: 9.79
Audience: Adult
Language: English