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A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband, Danny Pearl

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The tragic murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is well known. Why he was in Karachi; how he saw his role as an international journalist: why he was singled out for kidnapping; and where the incredible search effort led - are the subject of Mariane Pearl's book. A journalist in her own right, Mariane is, as was her husband, profoundly committed to the idea that a more informed public makes for a better world, and to the idea that risks are taken to uncover a story. A superb writer, she presents a truly illuminating tale - including her own crucial role in the investigative team, where she was responsible for negotiating unprecedented cooperation between the FBI and Pakistani intelligence and able to forge alliances with an array of people, from the Karachi chief of police to George Bush. A Mighty Heart is an extraordinary book - a fitting tribute to a dedicated reporter and a profound and heartbreaking love story.

288 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2003

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About the author

Mariane Pearl

8 books17 followers
She is a French freelance journalist and a reporter and columnist for Glamour magazine. She is the widow of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in early 2002.

Pearl, being of Dutch-Jewish, Afro-Latino-Cuban and Chinese Cuban ancestry and raised in Paris, Van Neyenhoff met Daniel Pearl while he was on assignment in Paris.

They married in August 1999, lived for a time in Mumbai, India where Daniel was the South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, and later traveled to Karachi, Pakistan to cover aspects of the war on terrorism. Their son Adam Daniel was born in Paris three months after his father was killed.

Pearl's memoir, A Mighty Heart, which deals with the events surrounding her husband's kidnapping and assassination, was adapted for the film A Mighty Heart. Co-produced by Brad Pitt, Andrew Eaton and Dede Gardner and directed by Michael Winterbottom, the film stars Angelina Jolie and Dan Futterman as Mariane and Daniel Pearl.

Mariane Pearl is a practicing Nichiren Buddhist and a member of Soka Gakkai International.

In July 2007, Pearl filed suit in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York against terrorists and a bank which may have financed them, for their alleged roles in the abduction, torture and murder of her husband. Those named in the suit include Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Habib Bank. On October 24, 2007, the lawsuit seeking damages against al-Qaida, a dozen reputed terrorists and Pakistan's largest bank was dropped. Lawyers for Mariane Pearl noted that Habib Bank Limited and the other defendants in the case had not answered the lawsuit filed in July (although Habib Bank Limited had denied ever supporting terrorism), but they otherwise did not explain their reason for dropping the action. A spokesman for the lawyers has stated that the withdrawal was due to personal reasons and should have no bearing on the merits of the lawsuit.

Pearl is a member of the honorary board of the Daniel Pearl Foundation[http://www.danielpearl.org] with international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, former President Bill Clinton, Pakistani philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, president of Stanford University John L. Hennessy, founding Nightline anchorman Ted Koppel, Queen Noor of Jordan, Palestinian professor and president of Al-Quds University Sari Nusseibeh, violinist Itzhak Perlman, Nobel Peace Prize winning author Elie Wiesel, Daniel Pearl's parents Ruth and Judea Pearl, and others.

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5 stars
976 (35%)
4 stars
1,098 (40%)
3 stars
522 (19%)
2 stars
93 (3%)
1 star
23 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 336 reviews
Profile Image for Diane Wallace.
1,119 reviews1,331 followers
October 3, 2018
Great read! A painful,sad and also a really courageous account of 'WHAT' really happen! (paperback!)
Profile Image for Diane in Australia.
668 reviews788 followers
February 3, 2021
"The task of changing a hate-filled world belongs to each one of us." ~~ Mariane Pearl

A very moving book written by Mariane Pearl, the wife of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl. She, and her husband, both journalists, were dedicated to the idea of making certain that the public be an informed public. Sometimes that involved taking risks to get a story. Sadly, one day in 2002, Danny gave his life for that dedication.

Mariane's prologue says it all.
"I write this book for you, Danny, because you had the courage of this most solitary act: to die with your hands in chains but your heart undefeated.

I write this book to do justice to you, and to tell the truth.

I write this book to show that you were right: The task of changing a hate-filled world belongs to each one of us.

I write this book because, in suppressing your life, the terrorists tried to kill me, too, and to kill our son, Adam. They sought to kill all those who identified with you.

I write this book to defy them, and in the knowledge that your courage and spirit can inspire others.

I write this book to pay tribute to all the people who helped and supported our family through terrible times, creating an emotional bridge for us to stand on.

I write this book for you, Adam, so you know that your father was not a hero but an ordinary man. An ordinary hero with a mighty heart. I write this book for you so you can be free."

4 Stars = Outstanding. It definitely held my interest.
Profile Image for Stef.
53 reviews7 followers
October 12, 2007
You already know the ending, but the process of getting there is mind-blowing. Too many confusing names to keep track of, but both Pearl's determinism and strength is almost too much to bear. And no, I haven't seen the movie...
Profile Image for Carrie.
108 reviews1 follower
November 6, 2007
This book was definitely difficult to read at times. It was heart-breaking to imagine what Mariane Pearl must have felt as she helped investigate the kidnapping of her husband, Wall Street journalist Daniel Pearl, by Islamic Fundamentalists. Mariane's humanity and strength are quite amazing. As a journalist who has seen Islamic Fundamentalism firsthand, she also does a good job of giving an insider's account of what its threat means to the Western World. This book is definitely sad (be ready to cry), but Mariane's ability to overcome her hatred for her husband's murderers is also inspiring. She realizes that the best way to combat them is to remain happy and hopeful because despair and hatred is exactly what they want their victims to feel.
Profile Image for Andrea Cox.
Author 2 books1,630 followers
March 20, 2019
Wow. After having seen the movie version of this story, starring Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl, I felt it would be worth reading the memoir by Mrs. Pearl. I was right; it was worth my time. My heart mourns that terrorism is a thing and that innocent people must perish in such graphic, violent ways. I'm glad I read this book, and I'll be keeping my copy for a future reading or two when I need a good cry.

Content: expletives, profanity, alcohol, sexual references
February 7, 2023
i did not understand a thing about this book. something about a guy getting kidnapped in india. L book would not recommend
Profile Image for Courtney.
143 reviews30 followers
July 27, 2009
I had put this book on my Amazon wish list awhile back, around the same time I saw the movie adaptation starring Angelina Jolie. I knew that the movie stayed as true as possible to the book, so I really wanted to get a more in-depth look at the life of Danny and Mariane Pearl.

The portrait Mariane Pearl paints of her husband, their friends, Pakistan, and those who were a part of the massive effort to find and bring Danny Pearl home is detailed and incredibly perceptive. She made me feel as if I knew these people, as if they were mutual friends that we were discussing.

Reading this book, I felt Mariane's tremendous love for her husband, and for the life they had together as seekers of truth through responsible journalism. I also felt her incredible frustration with the Pakistani authorities, who seemed to not care so much about Danny's kidnapping as they did about how it made their country appear in the eyes of the world. I also understood the affection and trust she felt for those who did their best to bring Danny home - Captain, Dost, Randall Bennett and the many others she worked alongside during the weeks that Danny was kidnapped.

A Mighty Heart showcases both the best and the worst of human nature. Mariane and her family were victims of the worst of human nature, but they found some of the best in those who came to their aid.

At times, I had tears in my eyes. Tears of rage. Tears of anguish. Mostly I asked myself, how can someone hate that much? I can't understand it. How can anyone hate so much that they have to destroy anything and everything that doesn't conform to their viewpoint?

I agree with Mariane. We need to begin a dialogue. And we need to keep it going, no matter what. We have to make things better, because no one is going to do it for us. Mariane Pearl is a woman of tremendous courage and understanding. We could all learn a lesson from her.

I swear I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architect of peace.
Profile Image for Angie.
203 reviews35 followers
June 14, 2009
When I was in high school, I felt like I was the only one in the world who cared about a journalist named Daniel Pearl. I was, at least, the only one in my high school who cared about it.

Until I approached the teacher who ran the school newspaper about writing an article on him.

It was my first year on the staff, and I was pretty much the head editor anyways, going in after school to edit and change the layouts of articles.

If I remember correctly, my article on Daniel Pearl was printed on the front page. Hardly anyone read it, but that didn't matter. What mattered was that it was the first time that I think I fully understood the tragedy that can come from standing up for what you believe in.

And I liked Mariane because her wedding dress was the same, obnoxious orange as my junior year prom dress.

Mariane Pearl picked herself up, with a broken heart and young child, and is still standing up for what she believes in today, despite all the tragedy that has happened to her.

There are some books about isolated incidents that will go unread simply because no one cares. This isn't one of those books, and it should never be. It's about standing up for what one believes in, as well as focusing on how hatred and racism can still tear families apart, and the dangers of living in today's world.

But the fact that Mariane had the courage to write it, to speak out and up, makes it worth the read. Knowing that there are other people out there who care about the same things you do is worth everything, and I think Mariane not only discovered that throughout her traumatic journey, but her son Adam was born into a world that will not only never forget his father, but will always care for him and be there, right alongside him.
Profile Image for Gary.
933 reviews198 followers
July 19, 2014
A moving and absorbing real life account of the last months of Daniel Pearl and how his wife Marianne dealt with being in Pakistan after Daniel was kidnapped by Islamic terrorists. A window into the mind of the terrorists and jihadis who plague the world , whether it be the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan ruling the areas under their control with terror, Hamas and Islamic Jihad targeting Israel's
civilian population , Islamists killing Buddhists in Burma or killing Christians in Nigeria, Iran's atrocities against women or Islamics in Britain waging a rape and sex slavery jihad against British children

While we know the outcome of the kidnapping in Daniel's death (gruesomely murdered for being Jewish) the hunt for the kidnappers and Marian's determination to get to the bottom of this heinous deed and see her husband again is thrilling , heartbreaking and shows what special and valiant woman Marianne is.

As she says what remains of Daniel is her son Adam. Moving letters from a host of people around the world to her and Adam after Daniel's death.
Including one from President Bush and one by his wife Laura showing how despite the demonization by the media and world left the Bushes are in reality amazing people.
an example of the heartwarming letters include a sample of this one from a family in Israel: 'Here in Israel as we celebrate the Festival of Purim, it is difficult to find happiness in our hearts as we live in the shadow of terror, We can only pray for better times and a better world...May our children grow up to know a very different reality from the present one
Profile Image for La Crosse County Library.
549 reviews132 followers
May 3, 2022
Review originally published March 2004

Daniel Pearl was a Wall Street Journal reporter in Pakistan. In January 2002, he was kidnapped and brutally murdered.

A Mighty Heart is a wonderfully written book by Mariane Pearl, Danny’s wife and the mother of their child. In it, she shares the story of the time leading up to Danny’s kidnapping and the long heart-wrenching days she spent trying to find him. Mariane speaks of the struggle of trying to get information about her husband, and of the people who helped her along the way.

Even though things end badly for her and her husband, it is truly a book of inspiration. Both Mariane’s and Danny’s goal as journalists was to raise awareness of the ethnic and religious conflicts around the world. Reading A Mighty Heart makes you realize the volume of hate and the extremes to which some people will go.

Mariane, pregnant and searching for her husband, never gave up hope until his outcome was certain. She talks about the video that was made of her husband’s brutal murder and how she pleaded with the CBS network not to air it, a fight she lost. Andrew Hayward's (the president of CBS News) reply was: “It has news value.” Although some parts of the video were blocked out and he was empathetic, she is furious and tells him so.

The book ends with updates of recent events in Pakistan, and includes several caring and supportive letters she and her son received from people all over the world.

Find this book and other titles within our catalog.
Profile Image for Diana Macovei.
310 reviews10 followers
April 10, 2020
Mariane Pearl vine să ne spună drama reală din spatele ştirilor. Cu inima plină de durere, înecată în suferinţă, ne împărtăşeşte de unde poate face rost o fiinţă de puterea necesară pentru a trece peste pierderea celui iubit într-un mod absurd, din motive neînţelese. O inimă neînfricată, prin vocea Marianei Pearl, ne prezintă povestea lui Danny Pearl din spatele culiselor, din linia întâi de investigaţie.

Profile Image for Mkittysamom.
1,467 reviews49 followers
May 11, 2022
Wow! I cannot imagine being Mrs Pearl. What strength and wisdom and courage I felt from her writing this and most of all hope. Which is weird because this is a true crime story but this changes the narrative on sensationalist journalism and focuses on truth and what a real journalist does. I read it at a perfect time in my life.
Profile Image for Medeia Sharif.
Author 18 books427 followers
June 14, 2022
I remember watching the news on this tragedy early in the millennium, as well as watching the movie based on this book. This is well-written with an even pace, giving fascinating background information on Marianne Pearl, her husband, their careers, and their travels. Their careers and travels unfortunately brought them to the point of Daniel Pearl’s atrocious kidnapping and murder. Readers get to learn about the behind-the-scenes with the authorities as they search and gain information about the kidnapping. Marianne Pearl comes across as strong and resilient in the face of such horror.
Profile Image for Graceann.
1,166 reviews
May 20, 2010
On January 23, 2002, Daniel Pearl hopped into a taxi in pursuit of a story, and became one instead. This book is the memoir of his wife, Mariane, as she navigated the days and weeks after his kidnapping and murder, and the birth of their son.

Mariane Pearl's feeling of helplessness, despite being better equipped with knowledge of her surroundings than most would be in the same situation, is palpable. Her skill as a writer shines through in these pages - her increasing loathing for the recorded voice on her husband's voicemail; her distrust of some of the people assigned to "help" and her love for others; her overwhelming frustration with the slowness of the process; her rage and grief.

This is a story that nobody should ever have to tell. Mariane Pearl is now very busy as a public speaker and writer in the cause of ending terrorism and bringing international understanding. I'm sure she would have preferred to do that work with her husband by her side. The world needs Daniel Pearl, and so does she.
Profile Image for Sherry Elmer.
313 reviews27 followers
August 10, 2019
I well remember how I prayed and worried when I’d heard that Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter, had been kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan by Islamic extremists. And I remember the grief I felt when I learned he had been brutally executed. I am thankful to have read this book and to have learned much about a good, intelligent, empathetic, loving, funny man. He was the kind of person that should fill this world. But I was also thankful to learn that just as my heart had gone out to Mariane and all the Pearl family and friends, many, many people the world over had prayed for Danny, Mariane, and their soon-to-be-born son Adam. Investigators in Pakistan worked fervently to bring Danny home alive, and when they failed, they sought to bring the many conspirators to justice. It is good to be reminded that there are people everywhere who will fight the good fight, and work to overcome darkness with light, as seen in the world-wide outpouring of love and support to Mariane after this tragedy.
Profile Image for Nicole.
69 reviews5 followers
September 17, 2008
This was a great book and a horrible real life account of the kidnapping and murder of journalist Danny Pearl in Pakistan. It is also a reminder of how little I truly know about al qaeda and international terrorism in general. So many groups, religions, organizations, and players that continuously morph is overwhelmingly scary. And the corruption is absolutely absurd. Not a particularly 'pretty' read, nor do I think it is written exceptionally well - but very informative. I havent seen the movie, so I cannot comment on that...
Profile Image for Jenn.
1,539 reviews29 followers
December 10, 2008
An interesting true story of kidnapping in Pakistan and the murder of Danny Pearl a journalist from New York. Written by his wife who was pregnant with their son, Adam when Danny was beheaded.

Turned into a movie starring Angelina Jolie which I have yet to see but have been told is heartwrenching.
Profile Image for Adrian Jackson.
Author 3 books5 followers
February 5, 2014
I wanted to enjoy this, but it was awful. In the midst of retelling the kidnapping and death of her husband, she includes details like a fun trip to McDonald's, hot guys and camaraderie. I found that this diminished what was important, and made the book unappealing. It was not well-written (the author is a journalist), but, worse, it also poorly edited.
Profile Image for W.
1,185 reviews4 followers
October 6, 2019
The murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl,in Karachi in 2002,was big news worldwide.This is the memoir of his widow,Mariane.A sad book,which also became a movie,with Angelina Jolie playing Mariane Pearl.
Profile Image for Mary.
89 reviews5 followers
April 10, 2009
Absolutely heartbreaking story, of course, because we all know the outcome, but she is a great writer. Reads like a novel.
Profile Image for Melissa Ball.
51 reviews1 follower
March 6, 2015
I don't have words. Her story and that of Danny are a true work of strength and courage and intelligence. Read it with a whole heart.
Profile Image for Putri Laksmi Nurul Suci.
10 reviews5 followers
July 9, 2020
Walaupun sempat terkena reading slump, but in the end akhirnya selesai jugaa!. Aku memutuskan baca buku ini karena ingin tau bagaimana seorang wartawan mengatasi sebuah konflik. Dan jawabannya.. WOW!.

Daniel Pearl dan Mariane Pearl adalah sepasang suami istri yang berprofesi sebagai wartawan. Ketika menjalankan tugasnya sebagai jurnalis Wall of Street di Karachi, Pakistan, Daniel diculik dan disandera oleh gembong teroris Al-Qaeda. Sebelum berfokus pada masalah penculikan dan penyelesaiannya, buku ini menarasikan bagaimana seorang pekerja media menjalankan tugasnya di zona konflik. Penuh rasa was-was dan curiga dengan orang sekitar adalah sebuah starter kit yang harus dimiliki. Kendati demikian, seorang wartawan pemberani, Daniel, masih bisa luput dan berakhir diculik karena terlanjur mempercayai seseorang yang hendak membantunya.

Selama disandera, Mariane dibantu oleh tim yang sangat sigap dan biasa menghadapi negosiasi dengan teroris. Sebuah harapan tampak dari terbentuknya tim ini, semua berusaha mengerahkan koneksi yang mereka miliki. Dibantu dengan Asra, teman Daniel, Mariane juga mencari petunjuk dari rekam jejak yang ditinggalkan Daniel di buku catatan dan komputernya. Mariane yang sedang hamil berusaha sebisa mungkin untuk mengendalikan emosinya agar tetap waras demi kesehatan bayinya. Tanpa penyesalan, mereka berjuang sampai akhir. Walaupun jawaban dari semua ini tidak sesuai dengan yang mereka harapkan.

Buku ini mengajarkan bagaimana mengendalikan emosi di saat hal genting menimpa orang kesayanganmu. Aku juga terkagum dengan Mariane yang memperhatikan dan mencatat setiap detil perubahan setiap harinya, demi menemukan sebuah titik terang. Tak hanya itu, aku pun menjadi tahu sedikit sejarah dan rentetan peristiwa yang berkaitan dengan tindakan para teroris. To sum it up, this book is kinda worth it to know how ruthless terrorists are.
Profile Image for Stefanie Robinson.
1,651 reviews6 followers
August 3, 2022
This book is written by the wife of Daniel Pearl, Mariane Pearl. Daniel was a well educated man, having attended Stanford University, where he majored in Communication. He worked for several publications before becoming employed with The Wall Street Journal. Following the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, Daniel Pearl had a place in Pakistan that he used as a base to report on the War on Terrorism. He was on his way to meet with a contact to get some information for an article, but the contact turned out to be a ruse. He was abducted by a group of people, claiming to be the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. They sent a list of ransom demands to the United States government, along with graphic photos of Daniel Pearl. He was decapitated and dismembered before being buried in a shallow grave, not to be recovered for three months. His body was eventually returned home and buried in the states. A video of his murder circulated around for a while as well, where they had forced him to admit his Jewish heritage. Several arrests were made. His wife also gave birth to their child a few months after these events, and I cannot IMAGINE how hard that was for her.

I did not know who Daniel Pearl was until I read this book. I picked it up in the religion section at my used book store, but thought that it sounded interesting. I do remember seeing videos and things of this nature on the news over the years from the war, but I could not recall specific names. I think that what happened to him was horrible, and I hate so much that his family had to go through such a thing. You can tell how much this affected his wife, the author of this book, by the things that she says. An absolute tragedy and crime.
Profile Image for Chana.
1,578 reviews142 followers
September 21, 2020
I remember the murder of Daniel Pearl in real time, how shocking and horrifying it was. Each day the news was presenting yet another horrible thing that happened. I think between 9/11 and the murder of Daniel Pearl, Americans began to understand that they had enemies. Although fast-forward to today and we again don't seem to understand that anymore. We are all turned against each other in a most alarming way.
But, to the book, it is an excellent mix of the personal and the religious/political, the past and the time of the event. It is heartbreaking. It also speaks to the horror of our age of internet. Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered on camera specifically so that the video could spread terror among anyone who thinks they could become victims of Jihad such as Americans, Jews, and Christians and many others. And so it could spread feelings of success and bravery among Jihadists.
They murdered a good man who was trying to help the world. I thought of him today while listening to the shofar blowing. I was hoping he could hear it and I was wishing that the neshomah of Daniel Pearl should have an aliyah. My heart goes out to innocent and hurting people of all nations and religions, I wish peace and healing on us all.
Profile Image for Paolo Aguas.
162 reviews2 followers
November 15, 2019
The book is extremely good, one really gets to feel what Marianne was feeling during the whole endeavor. This is the kind of book that I feel that racists need to read to understand that yes there is evil in this world, but that evil is not from only one particular race of people. Marianne Pearl does a great job in recognizing everyone who helped her and showing their humanity and their morals. Just because the terrorists who killed Daniel Pearl are Muslim does not mean that all Muslims are evil, in this true to life story there were so many good Muslims who were ashamed and extremely angry that terrorists killed an innocent man just because he is Jewish. I hope more and more people read this book because in the works that we live in now, it is important to remember that when we are faced with hate and evil the only thing that can stop it is love. Just like what Marianne did the terrorists will never win for as long as we never stop caring for each other.
Profile Image for Jess.
158 reviews
September 12, 2022
What Danny endured is horrific, and Mariane’s helpless battle is sickening. This book is depressing, scary, and bleak; the writing is journalistic, almost vague and often confusing. There really are too many characters, situations, events and places to keep track of for the story to be effective. Moreover, the essence of this story gets lost within the details. This is not “A House in the Sky,” which I was hoping it would be like (obviously without the happy ending). I truly ache for Mariane and Adam’s loss, as well as the tragic end of Daniel’s beautiful life. From the book, I can understand how immense of a loss it is. I just didn’t engage with the recounting of it all in this book format.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 336 reviews

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