Saturday, March 14, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: A Mighty Heart by Mariane Pearl

I finished A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life And Death Of My Husband, Danny Pearl
by Mariane Pearl the other day. In some ways it reminds me of Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Both take place mostly in Pakistan and both are so powerful that you reflect on them for days and even weeks to come. Both have some rough language but it was nearly transparent to me as the heart-wrenching frustrations in each story resulting in such words were so overwhelming that I hardly noticed the harsh and sometimes foul words, normally foreign to me. (And in both cases, I listened to the book on CD driving to and from work over the course of a couple of weeks. I still consider them books that I "read").

I remember when this occurred as the world held it's breath for five long weeks, sending up prayers in many languages for Danny's safe return. He was a reporter and the South Asia Bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal. Danny put himself in harm's way to shed some light to the side of the news that might bring about world understanding. Instead, in this instance, it brought a type of horror that proved to be both universal and yet painfully personal for his wife, Mariane, who was pregnant with their first child, a son.

On January 23, 2002, on his way to what he thought was an interview at a village restaurant in Karachi, Pearl was kidnapped by the militant group, "The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty." This group claimed Danny (of Jewish heritage and an American) was a CIA agent. Before he left for the interview, he told Mariane that he might be late for dinner. He never returned.

Mariane's riveting account of realizing her husband was missing and working to help the authorities piece it all together, leading up to Danny's eventual and brutal murder will leave you forever changed. Mariane is also an award-winning journalist and shares a very detailed step-by-step account of what took place. Surprisingly, interwoven throughout every page of the book, is a love story so intimate, intense and tender that you'll find often yourself smiling and feeling very privileged to "know" these remarkable people, including those surrounding Mariane during this difficult time ... each with their own "mighty heart."

The book on CD is read by Mariane. You really need to concentrate to understand her as she was born of an Afro-Chinese-Cuban mother and Dutch-Jewish father in France. She is a practicing Buddist. Mariane was raised in Paris and has a very unique accent. It's a good thing that you have to listen so carefully as you want to catch every detail and no one else would ever be able to tell the story as she does. It's a story I shall not soon forget. It makes you grateful and also sad but leaves you in awe of the courage of so many of our brothers and sisters half-way around the world, especially Mariane, whose heart is every bit as mighty as her husband's.


Why Not? Because I Said So! said...

Nice review Stephanie. I also like to read stories of people that exhibit such bravery amidst struggles in their lives. I will be reading this book.

Jen said...

Sounds like an amazing book!

beckers said...

Sounds like a very powerful book! Thanks for the heads up. And great review!

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