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A Season in Hell [Hardcover]

Robert Fowler
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 8 2011

For decades, Robert R. Fowler was a dominant force in Canadian foreign affairs. In one heart-stopping minute, all of that changed. On December 14, 2008, Fowler, acting as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Niger, was kidnapped by Al Qaeda, becoming the highest ranked UN official ever held captive. Along with his colleague Louis Guay, Fowler lived, slept and ate with his captors for nearly five months, gaining rare first-hand insight into the motivations of the world’s most feared terror group. Fowler’s capture, release and subsequent appearances have helped shed new light on foreign policy and security issues as we enter the second decade of the “War on Terror.”

A Season in Hell is Fowler’s compelling story of his captivity, told in his own words, but it’s also a startlingly frank discussion about the state of a world redefined by clashing civilizations.


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Review

?What a remarkable book this is. The writing is clear, compelling, visceral. The analysis is formidable. The story leaves you gasping. Bob Fowler spares nothing: not himself, not Al Qaeda, not the Canadian response from the RCMP to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It?s been eons since I?ve read a work of non-fiction where every page grabs your heart or your head or both. It?s an autobiographical tour de force.?
- Stephen Lewis ()

About the Author

ROBERT R. FOWLER joined the Department of External Affairs in 1969 and was posted to Paris in 1971 and to the Canadian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in 1976. He returned to External Affairs headquarters in 1978 to become executive assistant to Allan Gotlieb, the under-secretary of state for External Affairs. In 1980, he was seconded to the Privy Council Office as assistant secretary to the Cabinet (Foreign and Defence Policy), where he served as foreign policy advisor to prime ministers Trudeau, Turner and Mulroney. In 1986 Mr. Fowler became assistant deputy minister (Policy) in the Department of National Defence, and then he served as deputy minister from 1989 to 1995. From 1995 to 2000 he was Canada’s longest serving ambassador to the United Nations, following which he was named ambassador to Italy and also personal representative for Africa for prime ministers Chrétien and Harper. Fowler lives in Ottawa, Ontario.


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Page Turner Nov. 21 2011
Format:Hardcover
This book is Robert Fowler's account of the 130 days he and Louis Guay spent in the Sahara as captives of Al Qaeda. It is a gripping tale of physical and psychological survival in the grimmest and bleakest conditions. It is also a fascinating, yet chilling, account, based on Fowler's conversations with his captors, of what makes the Al Qaeda foot soldier tick. I highly recommend it. You will not be able to put it down.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captive of Al Queda Nov. 20 2011
Format:Hardcover
A season in Hell
by Robert Fowler

Robert Fowler has written a unique account of what it is to be a captive of Al Queda. Unique, because Fowler is the highest-level representative of western governments ever to be taken by Al Queda. Also, because his background as a diplomat, senior government official and UN representative was precisely keyed to the menace of islamist terrorism; he knows his subject.

Fowler, together with his colleague Louis Guay, was sent as the official representative of the UN Secretary General to encourage peace talks between the rebel Taureg movement and the government of Niger. He soon realized that this was a 'Mission impossible' - not because the rebels were not ready to deal, but because the government of Niger was exploiting the rebel problem to maintain its hold on power.

The book explains in painful detail their treatment for four months in the Sahara desert, the motivation of his radicalized captors and the perfidious actions - as well as the heroics - of the various actors involved. Fowler `gets' the big picture, and explains it in terms that provide a wake-up call to both the threatened governments of the Sahel region and the western governments that must support them.

Many books have been written by and about kidnap victims; this victim has survived to tell the tale in terms that are alarming and informative, but in the end a credit to the best instincts of survival.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Bob Fowler's "A Season in Hell" is an account worthy of its dramatic story - and worthy of its author. There is much to learn here - about the Sahara, Al Qaeda and the pathologies of blind believers, about stunning inepitude and brave competence, about the complex morality of ransoms - but above all about courage and the sustaining power of love.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unbeleivable Dec 13 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is not an easy book to read but we learn so much that it is well worth the time spent to read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Total Page-Turner- what an Ordeal! Feb. 23 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The CANCER of north African Islamic Extremism that is currently making headlines in 2013 throughout Mali -was experienced 4 plus years ago in the REALEST way possible by Robert Fowler. This is a powerful book that I could not put down and really shows the enormous cultural & philosophical world that these men live inside as "Warriors in Al Qaedas Jihad" You'll see how these utterly devoted Muslim extremists operate in a mix of dark ages, 7th century ideals mixed with the conveniences of modern western life when it suits them.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrorists in Somalia defeated in 2012 Jan. 1 2012
Format:Hardcover
There might be one mistake depicted in one photograph, with the people not described properly as on the right or left. A great book that a screenplay for a movie will be written in 2012, is my guess. The terrorists are irrational or crazy, explaining the perfection of a honest Canadian like Robert Fowler. I hope to see the movie in a future year and hear of the Genie nominations about the perfection of Canada and the useless lives of dying terrorists in Mali, Niger and elsewhere in Africa.
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