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A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  696 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
Three young Americans captured by Iranian forces and held in captivity for two years tell their story.In summer 2009, Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, and Sarah Shourd were hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan when they unknowingly crossed into Iran and were captured by a border patrol. Accused of espionage, the three Americans ultimately found themselves in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison, ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 18th 2014 by Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Apr 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: pretentious-crap
Allow me to start my review with a little story:

I used to petsit for two adorable miniature dachshunds with adorable miniature brains. In a misguided attempt to mark their territory, they wound up urinating in their shared water bowl. They'd then take a sip of water, make the canine-equivalent "Ewww" face, and stare at me with soulful puppy eyes as if to say "Dearest Petsitter, our water tastes bad and we love you".

Sarah, Shane, and Josh remind me of those dogs, except that they didn't have the
Jun 08, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One star because as a human, I empathize with what the three went through; however, these three are probably the most arrogant, self-loving and whiny people I have ever read about. There were times I almost wanted the Iranians to smack them around a little bit just to knock them off of their high horses. The three hate America and take every chance to speak out against this country while living in the Middle East, then whine when America doesn't respond to help them. They mock religion and God, ...more
Alan Mills
I came to this book from a perspective different than that of most readers. I represent men who have been kept in solitary in Illinois' prisons, sometimes for decades.I represent them in prison, and I represent them after their release (often in applications for disability benefits, as the experience has so damaged them that they are no longer capable of functioning in a work environment). This book is honest, tells us much about ourselves as a society, and should be read by every American.

In th
May 30, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One always hopes that a cathartic experience will make someone change their ways and grow and learn. But many people seem to manage to stay the same even when life deals them experiences that they should learn from.

These three remind me of the tourists in "Muppet Treasure Island". Seemingly oblivious to wars, they are out hiking along the Iraq/Iran border. They assume as long as they hate Bush and Israel, they will be welcomed by all the good people in this part of the world.

They enter Iranian j
May 30, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-written book, but after reading it, I may have lost my liberal street cred. I hated these whining, self-absorbed anti-Americans that much. I feel like going to shop at Wal-Mart, joining the NRA, and changing my political party affiliation to Republican just to further disassociate myself from people like Shane, Sarah, and Josh. I found, to my surprise, so much to dislike about these three.

When reading it, I found myself thinking, "I want my $11 back," not only because reading it
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book didn't sit well with me, for a variety of reasons, some of which I'll try to explain. To begin, the book's structure is off-putting. It is broken into small sections, most only a few pages long, with each being written from the viewpoint of one of the authors. I understand that all three wanted to tell their stories, each from his/her own point of view, but the constant jerking between them was disruptive. What made this structure even worse, all three speak in essentially the same lit ...more
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-christina
I read some other reviews and I'm probably the only person who did not like this book. I gave up halfway through. It's quite long, but that is because there are three people writing here instead of one. At times, it just drags because of the many details. My second problem with this book is they never explain how they accidentally ended up in Iran. My theory is these three don't want to admit they never bothered to look at a map, because they want you to focus on how intellectually brilliant the ...more
Kevin Kirkhoff
Apr 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: societal, library
I thought this book was very well written. It held my interest, and I liked the way it was presented in a diary format, with each person getting a few pages to tell their perspective of events.

While I am not an expert on foreign policy or Leftist activist groups, it seemed strange that these “hikers”, who happened to be outspoken opponents of America’s foreign policy and of Israel, just happened to be hiking right on the border of Iran and got captured. At some point I would think they would hav
Oliver Schnusenberg
When rating books like these, I always have to remind myself that I am rating the book, not the content of the book. As someone on here said in a review of a different book, it is difficult to give a rating for a nonfiction book, since it is based on fact, and how do you rate fact? However, my rating is intended for the book's style and writing, not the content of the book.

Overall, I liked "A Sliver of Light." I most certainly would not do as well as the three protagonists did under the circumst
Mar 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow, wow, wow. I thought this was amazingly well-written, deeply honest, and compelling. In order to write this book, the authors had to recall many beautiful, ugly or simply routine details of their lives in prison.

The authors had to be so strong and confident in their relationships to produce this book. They recalled feelings about their situations that I am sure would have been easier to pretend never happened. They trudged up memories that may have been better left in the hollow halls of pri
May 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014

3.5 stars. Always interesting, but I've read better captivity-narrative books, even ones that take place in Iran, specifically. Plus, I couldn't get over how insufferable these three people were. They certainly did not deserve to be put in Evin prison in Tehran, and bless them for holding fast to their sometimes odious convictions throughout the ordeal, and I'm glad they're free, but. BUT. There is a massive BUT somewhere in all this that I cannot or will not put into words.

(I concede
Peter Y. Sussman
I literally cannot understand those who disliked this book. They cite the authors' naivete, their flawed choice of a hiking trail ... whatever. Did they actually read the book?

I was deeply moved by it. It provides a brave, eloquent and insightful look into the horrors of solitary confinement -- its effects on the psyche and on human interactions. I can do no better than to share a few of their insights into this barbaric form of torture, still an everyday practice in so many American prisons. A
Karen Mahtin
(disclaimer: I know Sarah and Shane from real life)

I followed the campaign to free Sarah, Shane, and Josh closely. It was amazing to read this book and hear, in their own words, what happened to them and how they were affected by their experiences in prison. They were lured over the border into Iran, imprisoned, not given a proper trial or means to contact their lawyer, refused mail that prison authorities didn't approve of, and they both suffered and witnessed numerous other awful experiences t
Keith McGowan
Jan 21, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, politics
Before I wrote this review, I read some of the previous reviews.

Compare this account of captivity with that of John McCain's Faith of our Fathers. The experience and attitude of these three adventurers sounds like people who got locked up in a country club for two years. They stumbled into Iran (and they should have made sure they were never close) and then complained about the US government not coming to their rescue, a government they openly criticize and blame for a situation they created.

May 17, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I feel the same now as I do after an appointment with my dentist; the experience was uncomfortable and annoying, but at least it's done.

I decided to finish the book because I felt it would be unfair of me to expect others to read a book I chose, if I don't read their picks.

Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I think I heard about this book on NPR - in any case it is a shared memoir of three friends who were prisoners in Iran for several years. They begin by hiking in Iraq and either accidentally or carelessly end up crossing the border into Iran where they are captured and thrown in prison.

The book alternates in each of their voices telling the story. You can feel their struggles and their joys, and how they are alternatively feeling hopeful and hopeless. They capture the soul-dullingly boredom of p
Ralph Calhoun
I've read a number of negative reviews of this book which say many of the things that I felt (or did not feel) as I read this book. 1-I never came to care that much for Shane, Joshua and Sarah, I wanted to but it did not happen. And, I kinda felt bad for not feeling for them. 2-I've read many books people in captivity some through no fault of their own, some through stupidity some because they were wrong. The subject is typically engrossing, but not in this book. 3-I pretty much forced my self t ...more
I was impressed with this memoir. Unlike many other such books that often tell harrowing stories through somewhat subpar writing, this book is well-written and engaging throughout. I enjoyed the different perspectives of Sarah, Shane, and Josh and appreciated the nuances of the different stages they went through during their imprisonment. I thought the very end got a bit too political for my liking, but otherwise very much enjoyed this.
Edward Sullivan
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
A harrowing, compelling memoir by the three Americans hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan taken hostage when they unknowingly crossed into Iran and were captured by a border patrol. Accused of espionage, they were ultimately held captive for two years in infamous Evin Prison, where they pooled their strength and relied upon each other to help survive that terrible ordeal.
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is the best read so far in 2014. A well written account by the three authors that were held "hostage" in Iran.
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great until the end of the epilogue, which was too politicized for me.
Dec 01, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A Sliver of Light is the story of the three young Americans captured by Iranian forces and held in captivity for two years.

The book begins with three friends (Sarah, Josh and Shane) that are hiking in Iraq for five hours and make their way to the Iran boarder; although the boarder is not marked, it is beyond irresponsible that they hike for such duration without maps knowing the two countries connect. They are not only surprised but angered when armed Iranians take them captive for crossing the
Jean Poulos
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is written by the three American Hikers arrested by Iran in 2009 for crossing into Iran while hiking. Bauer and Shourd were living in Damascus attending university. Fattal was a journalist friend who came to visit. They decided to take a weekend trip to a popular vacation area for visitors to the Middle East, in Iraq’s Kurdish area which is untouched by the war. They make a point in the book of saying they did not knowingly cross the border of Iran, a soldier waved them to him and they ...more
Nancy Kennedy
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My main interest in reading this book was to understand the effect of captivity on a person. I've read a number of captivity narratives, but all of them concern just a single figure. This captivity account differs in that there are three captives -- close friends hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan who unknowingly cross the border into Iran and are captured as supposed spies. The relationship of the three young people affects in deep ways how they experience imprisonment.

In some ways, the friendship of th
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was a bit leary about reading this book, because of the political bashing I read in books like this. You already know for example that there will be something about President Bush bashing him and his administration, and frankly this becomes tiresome.

All of that said, this was an interesting story, and I am glad that I read the book. The book takes you through the days/weeks/months of the imprisonment of Josh, Shane and Sarah. They tell their story, how they are feeling, what they are thinking,
Apr 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Alan Mills
Not surprisingly, considering the authors' backgrounds, this is a very well written book. What I AM surprised by is the one star reviews on here that call the authors babies and equate being imprisoned to living in a dorm. I am amazed by the lack of compassion. There is only ONE difference between a dorm and a prison that matters here -- the freedom to leave. Had they been living in a 5-star hotel (and they weren't), it still would not be an excuse to call them whiny and entitled. I don't think ...more
A very honest memoir from all 3 of the hikers who were wrongly accused of espionage and held against their will, for months on end, in a Iranian prison. The story is told in a rotating fashion, in chronological order, from all 3 perspectives of the hikers involved. The element that keeps the book cohesive is the authentic voice of Sarah, Josh, and Shane. I was surprised at how well they were treated relatively, compared to other hostages, within the prison(s) they inhabited, and compared to othe ...more
Sep 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran: Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, Joshua Fattal
Two and a half years after her release, Sarah found herself talking on Facebook with one of the soldiers who drove her, Shane, and Josh into Iran where they became imprisoned. She felt she had the right to know exactly where the actual border (though unmarked) existed. The soldier answered that the border was the round building -- the site at which the soldiers motioned them to approach. According to the Iranian authorit
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Sliver of Light” is the true story of Sarah Shroud, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, Americans living abroad who accidentally crossed the border from Iraq to Iran while hiking. They were thrown into an Iranian prison, accused of spying, and held. (Shroud was released and returned to America before the men, who spent about two years).

They were given mixed messages about being released and treated horribly, though compared to their fellow inmates, they got the Celebrity treatment. Shroud was kept se
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Regardless of your politics, this is a riveting account of being imprisoned in Iran's infamous Evin Prison, and clearly shows the need for governments to work together instead of using innocent travelers as geopolitical pawns. Well written in all three voices, A Sliver of Light is a testament to the power of friendship, the love of family, and the support of strangers. It's also a plea to seriously consider the ramifications of solitary confinement and torture in all its forms.
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