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Under An Afghan Sky: A Memoir Of Captivity [Hardcover]

Mellissa Fung
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 25 2011

In October 2008, Mellissa Fung, a reporter for CBC’s The National, was leaving a refugee camp outside of Kabul when she was kidnapped by armed men. She was forced to hike for several hours through the mountains until they reached a village; there, the kidnappers pushed her towards a hole in the ground. “No,” she said. “I am not going down there.”

For more than a month, Fung lived in that hole, which was barely tall enough to stand up in, nursing her injuries, praying and writing in a notebook. Under an Afghan Sky is the gripping tale of Fung’s days in captivity, surviving on cookies and juice, from the “grab” to her eventual release.


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Review

"In Under an Afghan Sky, Mellissa Fung touches on some difficult issues and does not divide the world into the two realms of good and evil. As she tells of the long days and nights she spent with her captors in a hole in the ground, we get to know them as the flawed human beings that they were, desperate individuals who had been pushed to the edge by war, poverty, and political and religious extremism. This is an important book that can lead the reader to a better understanding of a very complicated country." --Marina Nemat, author of Prisoner of Tehran and After Tehran

"There's a wonderful tension in Under the Afghan Sky between the wide-eyed curiosity, innocence, decency, resilience, and compassion of the narrator and the reader's sense of peril in the suffocating confinement, the ever-present likelihood of murder, and the backdrop of a fundamentally irrational conflict. I came away feeling that anybody else but Mellissa would probably have perished and that she survived because of the strength of her character, which certainly surprised some of her kidnappers. I was totally captivated." --Linden MacIntyre, author of The Bishop's Man

"Grabbed at gunpoint, stabbed in the shoulder, knifed in the hand, thrown in an underground hole for 28 days, and yet Mellissa Fung never stops being a reporter. Fung puts you in that awful, dark, rancid hole with her, and lets you listen in as she never stops confronting her kidnappers. Vivid in its detail, dramatic in its conversation, Under an Afghan Sky is riveting journalism, and guess what? There's even an endearing love story that runs throughout the book." --Peter Mansbridge

"Mellissa Fung's vivid portrait of the soul of a journalist even in the most terrifying of circumstances is a recognition of the never yielding human spirit. When we follow our calling it can save our lives. Her experience is an example of this." --Sandra Oh

"This breath-taking, deeply moving memoir of the nightmare of being taken hostage is immensely readable and compelling. The enormity of the experience is matched by the brilliance of the writing. This is a must-read for anyone interested in what's happening in Afghanistan today." --Adrienne Clarkson

About the Author

MELLISSA FUNG has been a reporter for CBC Television since 2003. As a national correspondent, she has covered numerous topics on both Canadian and world affairs, including the Robert Pickton trial and the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. She was sent on assignment to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008 and was abducted during her second tour. Fung divides her time between Toronto and Washington, D.C.


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hope, Strength, and Courage May 9 2011
By Heidi
Format:Hardcover
I was initially intrigued by Under an Afghan Sky when I saw a short interview with Mellissa Fung the week that the book was released. I wanted to know more about her 28-day ordeal that she experienced while being held captive in Afghanistan, bought the book, and finished reading it two days later. Under an Afghan Sky goes beyond just a personal recount of the author's kidnapping, but it also draws upon human emotions and differing belief systems of both her and her kidnappers. Despite her own fears and frustrations that resonate throughout the book, Mellissa Fung also manages to sympathize with her inevitably worried family and friends back home.

It's a story of hope, strength, and courage while faced with adversity. It's also a reminder to us all just how privileged we are to live in a country that is both safe and one which allows us our personal freedom.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courage, Strength & Resilience May 19 2011
By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Mellissa Fung, thirty-five-years -old, has been a long time journalist for CBC's `THE NATIONAL' in Canada. As she was reporting on the effects of war in Afghanistan, she was leaving a refugee camp outside Kabul when she was grabbed by armed men saying they were Taliban. After stabbing her, stuffing her into the back of a car, she was driven into the desert and then forced to walk through mountains, bleeding profusely. Finally her kidnappers stopped and forced her into a hole in the ground where she lived for the next "28" days! The hole was hardly big enough to stand up or lie down in and she had her serious injuries to contend with as well. The only thing she had to eat was cookies and juice.

Mellissa, a brave young woman felt her best bet was to keep her captors engaged in some sort of dialogue thinking they'd come to know her better and take pity on her. She felt by endearing herself to them, they would come to think of her as a good friend, or even family as one of her captors eventually regarded her as "sister". She asked how to pronounce each of their names properly, asked if they had families, taught them English words, and finally convinced them to promise her that they wouldn't shoot her!

This was an amazing memoir of one woman's courage, strength, and resilience to remain calm during a gruelling 28 day captivity. The writing is both compelling and deeply moving. I couldn't put it down until I'd turned the last page.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courage and Resilience June 18 2011
Format:Hardcover
Mellissa Fung is a correspondent for the CBC's The National. Recently she investigated the reasons behind veteran Steve Dornan's protest against Veterans Affairs Canada and her persistent on-air questions showed the disconnect within the Review Board whose members have no veteran or combat medical background. I'm sure that broadcast helped Steve win his nine-year fight to claim his disability pension.

But, in October, 2008, Mellissa was on assignment in Afghanistan. She left the safety of the Canadian base to pursue stories about the local people. As she left a refugee camp on the outskirts of Kabul, young armed Taliban men snatched her from her interpreter, stabbed her in the shoulder and hand, and carried her off into capitivity for 28 horrifying days. They took her blindfolded somewhere into the mountains and forced her to live in an underground hideout with only one hole to access it. The area tunneled out left little room to stand or lie down. One of her captors raped her. She expected to die there but fervently prayed for release every day. During those 28 days she survived on cookies and juice the kidnappers brought her to eat.

In "Under the Afghan Sky: A Memoir of Captivity," Mellissa recaptures her ordeal but, in an interview following the release of her book, admits that writing about what happened to her wasn't the cathartic exercise she hoped it would be. The images and smells are stamped on her memory forever.

What is amazing is the dogged determination she demonstrates throughout her captivity to survive the rancid dirty conditions of the hole and to remain an independent human being.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent April 21 2014
By Jeff
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed reading this book. I read this book in a couple of days. I highly recommend this book. This book should be mandatory reading, in every high school in Canada.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written Jan. 15 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book told without over dramatization how this young woman survived a terrible ordeal in conditions that would have created hysteria in most people. Even when undergoing this awful situation she tries to reach out and understand her captors. Very well written .
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Brave Lady July 17 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Based on my professional experience, Melissa's account of her ordeal accurately represents what so many other kidnap victims have endured during their captivity. I salute her for her bravery.
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