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.