The Skimmer

Book Review: A Rope and a Prayer by David Rohde and Kristen Mulvihill

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A Rope and a Prayer

By David Rohde and Kristen Mulvihill Viking; 362 pages

One morning in late 2008, during the final stages of reporting a scholarly book on southern Afghanistan, New York Times correspondent David Rohde set off from Kabul to speak with a Taliban commander. The interview never happened; Rohde was kidnapped by the group and held in captivity for nearly nine months before he and his Afghan fixer pulled off a daring escape. A Rope and a Prayer is a far stronger book than the one Rohde had planned to write and ultimately more revealing about the Taliban and its shady links to Pakistan. It is also an unsparing testimony of how love endures the up-and-down agonies of a kidnapping, one that derives much of its power from being told in alternating chapters by Rohde and his new and bewildered bride Kristen Mulvihill, a fashion editor in New York. "Part of me immediately recognizes that he's thrown us under a bus at month two of marriage," Mulvihill writes. After the escape, Rohde begs his wife, "Please let me spend the rest of my life making this up to you." Collaborating with her on this suspenseful book is an auspicious start.