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My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  471 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
Mahvish Khan is an American lawyer, born to immigrant Afghan parents in Michigan. Outraged that her country was illegally imprisoning people at Guantanamo, she volunteered to translate for the prisoners. She spoke their language, understood their customs, and brought them Starbucks chai, the closest available drink to the kind of tea they would drink at home. And they quic ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 24th 2008 by PublicAffairs (first published January 1st 2008)
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محامية أمريكية من أصل أفغاني تدخل لمعتقل غواتناموا سي الصيت للدفاع عن معتقلين بالتنسيق مع شركات محاماة امريكية بريطانيه.....لفتني بالبداية الاهداء في الكتاب قالت: أهدي هذا الكتاب للذكرى الطيبة ولأصدقائي خلف القضبان
قابلت وتكفلت بالدفاع عن الكثير من المعتقلين أغلبهم أفغان أبناء بلدها الاصلي...القاسم المشترك بين هولاء المعتقلين عبثية الاحتلال الامريكي وطريقه اعتقال هولاء بالتنسيق مع باكستانيين تسليم العرب والإفغان كيف تم اعتقالهم ؟ القى الجيش الامريكي من الجو آلاف المنشورات في افغانستان واعداً كل م
Oct 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Although there was a lot to like here, I felt there was some missing as well. No doubt there are men in Gitmo who have been falsely accused (often sold out by rivals); many allegations were not logical; but then, logic is not the strong suit of Bushites. I hate that we have allowed Cheney/Bush to establish a situation where we do not treat our enemies the way we want to be treated; I wish our leaders and managers were smarter, but they aren't. Likewise, I think it is too easy to get swept up in ...more
كتاب محامية افغانية الاصل وامريكية الجنسية
ترافعت للدفاع عن بعض معتقلي غوانتانامو
ظهر من خلال السيرة ان بعض المعتقلين ليس لهم علاقة بالقاعدة وطالبان ولكن الحكومة الباكستانية واجهزتها الفاسدة وعملائها قد باعو اغلبيتهم مقابل اموال الى امريكا!!! الكتاب من الناحية المعرفية متوسط القيمة وان كان يعطي بعض الصور المجهولة عن المعتقلين
جدير بالقراءة
Särah Nour
Apr 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have read many a news article about Guantanamo Bay and its human rights violations, but it is common knowledge that reading about something pales in comparison to truly experiencing it. Lawyer and journalist Mahvish Rukhsana Khan provides an inside look within the walls of the notorious prison with My Guantanamo Diary, a harrowing, tragic and at times darkly comic account of the appalling injustices she witnessed as a young law student.

Khan, who was born and raised by her Pashtun immigrant par
Audrey Coutinho
This is the first non-fiction book that I could complete and actually found more interesting than many of the fiction novels that I have read.

I am so disgusted with the US government after reading this book. Although I knew that people were tortured at Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, I had no idea that most of them had no evidence pointing to their involvement in any acts of terror. Many of them are innocent men sold out by rivals and other money-hungry men back home in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Meg Dunley
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wow! What an exhausting story that is a must read by all so that we never, never forget what want and power can do to people, in particular to innocent people.

This is the story that puts the human face to the people at Guantanamo Bay and gives us a chance to understand them. As a reader, you are taken through anger, frustration, joy and tears. It is beautifully written, and is a book that will never leave you. Such an important story to be told. We need to learn to listen to both sides so that
Sep 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: lisa
Mahvish Khan writes from in between two often opposing beliefs. On the one hand, she believes in law, in rights, in the goodness of the country to which she and her parents have emigrated, in the possibility of getting a fair trial for the prisoners she meets and represents. In other words, her naivete knows no bounds. And this makes her an utterly unsophisticated and uncomplicated witness.

On the other hand, she speaks Pushto, knows and largely honors her cultural heritage, and treats the priso
رولا البلبيسي Rula  Bilbeisi

Opening the doors to hell, a man-made hell, a place that no demon imagined, but we humans made it possible. Throughout the book, nightmares did haunt me, while my emotions swung between disbelief, anger and fear. How can the whole world overlook such a merciless reality: the military detention camp at Guantanamo Bay!

It doesn’t really matter if they are innocent or guilty, if they are charged or not, but it is all that torture and humiliation that the detainees have to go through every minute the
Jakob Hansen
Jun 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book made me angry. It was written by an Afghan-American law student who served as an interpreter for attorneys helping Guantánamo detainees make habeas appeals. Their stories include accounts intense brutality and inhumane treatment, and vehement assertions of innocence. And they are really quite plausible, especially with one crucial bit of information: The US offered bounties for the capture of terrorists and then never bothered to check whether these claims were at all plausible. Now, I ...more
Nov 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing and incredibly sad. I knew that the government gave bounties to regular people for suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda invovlers but I had no idea of the level of corruption (The Pakistani government selling Arabs to collect money) Although it shouldnt surprise me, that government is so far gone from obeying laws of common sense.

This is a book every person should read, not only Americans. When people turn the other cheek, injustices like Guantanamo happen.

Even though the book
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Let me start by saying that I am largely rating this book on the book's content, not on Mahvish Khan's writing skills. Reading the book feels a bit like reading a long college research paper. The writing in rather choppy and informal and does not read smoothly, it doesn't read like a professionally written book. To be fair, the writing is not bad. It's just that the writing quality can become distracting for the first, say, 100 pages until the reader becomes accustomed to it.

With that said, the
Rebecca Scaglione
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“My Guantanamo Diary” by Mahvish Rukhsana Khan is not a book that I had on a list or had recommended to me. While gazing through the “Librarian’s Choice” section in my library, I stumbled across the book and thought the title looked intriguing. Luckily, I decided to read “My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me” because it was a fantastic, thoughtful, and even political, read.

“My Guantanamo Diary” is written by former law student and journalist Mahvish Rukhsana Khan, who
Kathleen Hagen
My Guantanamo Diaries, by Mahvish Rukhsana Khan, produced by Audible inc. narrated by Shelley Johnson, downloaded from

The narrator wasn’t right for this book. Her voice was too light and chatty a lot of the time for the serious nature of this book. The author was a third-year law student who attached herself to the Habeas Corpus project of lawyers working full-time on getting trials for persons held at Guatanamo camp, some of who were there for three or four years by the time she ca
Jul 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: adults
Four stars means "I really liked it," but there is nothing to like here. Mahvish Rukhsana Khan worked as interpreter for lawyers at Guantanamo prison in 2006 & 2007. As an American, a lawyer, and a person of Afghani descent, she brings scholarly, practical, and cultural knowledge to her work and this writing.

"As a law student and a daughter of immigrants, I thought the prison camp's very existence was a blatant affront to what America stands for. How cuold our government create legal loopho
Edina Truth-Jones
Apr 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book captures the the wrongful arrests of innocent people by the U.S., the abuse, the violations, the disgusting and horrendous torture committed in the name of "War on Terror." What makes this even a more depressing account is that Mahvish was only able to write about a few prisoners. There are hundreds like them in Gitmo and most have endured atrocities committed against them.

It is clear that U.S. had an agenda to fulfill and it is clear that they were going to accomplish that goal by cre
This book was written by a young woman that was raised in the United States, but of Afghan heritage. She speaks Pashto fluently and became in the defense of detainees at Guantanamo first as a translator and then as a law student from the University of Michigan. Her principal purpose for this book was to reflect her opinion that the military base at Guantanamo should never have been used for these purposes and that the detainees all had a right to have their stories told in court or by some other ...more
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
The interesting part of this book was the point of view that is was written from. You’re not hearing from the prisoners themselves but from one of the lawyers who came to their aid.

Mahvish explores the world and hears the stories of the prisoners that stand accused and are held in Guantanamo Bay. Instead of facing hard nose criminals she meets men who remind her of her family. Men who when are given food insist that everyone shares these treats even if they themselves are starved of such joys. S
Jul 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is very upsetting. But then again a book about people being tortured should be otherwise you might be lacking a large amount of empathy.

I have always found the American pride about their freedom and equality hypocritical but that feeling has peaked on reading some of the torture methods used in Gitmo. Especially considering the evidence showing that most of these people are innocent and the undeniable fact that even if they are not they have never been given a trial. Between this book
Lee Razer
Jul 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Much more of a personal impressionistic account of Guantanamo than a comprehensive look at any cases or issues involved. The author is a young idealistic law student from an immigrant Afghan family who volunteered as an interpreter for the lawyers working with Afghans imprisoned on the base. She was convinced that the prisoners she met there were innocent, good men, and she clearly felt full sympathy with them and their stories. She may well be right, and other sources will also confirm that man ...more
May 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Although the book jumps around a bit, the author does an great job of presenting an issue that should make us stop and think. And isn't that what a good book does? It solidified some of my already existing believes: everyone has a right to a trial; our country tortures prisoners; and we cannot truly know if someone is guilty or innocent unless the full evidence is presented. Furthermore, it makes me wonder how many people would be sold in this country (guilty or innocent of any crime) for the eq ...more
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-biography
A young bilingual law student goes along with lawyers to interpret. She travels with them to Cuba to interview suspected Taliban participants. As an American, she is incensed that the men were jailed without being charged with a crime and having to endure many hardships. The book details some of these hardships. As an Afghan-American, she is upset that thier culture is being so disrespected by the holy Kuran being urinated on, men having menstrual blood spread on them,etc. She takes over 30 trip ...more
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very well written book about the detainees at Guantanamo. The writer, a daughter of Afghan immigrants writes this story after having been at first a translator for the pro bono lawyers seeking to assist the detainees. She brings a wonderful look at the men she spoke to, who, for some, were at the wrong place at the wrong time. She herself states that there might be people there, that she did not see, did not talk to, that are dangerous. However she offers an insightful, humane look at the deta ...more
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was shocked by what goes on in Gitmo. And I feel discouraged that the American government is doing this. It's no wonder we rarely hear about the prison in the media. I wish more people would read this book and something more could be done. This is definitely an embarrassing time to be an American.

My only complaint was a lot of the stories seemed unfinished. The author took a trip to Afghanistan and described the first part of the trip. Suddenly she was back at Guantanamo Bay without an end to
Kami Rice
Apr 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Very interesting book that provides insight into the stories of those inside Guantanamo's gates. Timely reading, as well, because President Obama has been pushing this spring to shut down Guantanamo and is meeting congressional resistance from both parties. The book was a fairly quick read as it's not literary reading--it's more informational than that. So it's not a GREAT book in terms of quality of the writing, but it seems to tackle its subject matter well and fairly. It's written by an Ameri ...more
Tina Christina Teng
Ms.Mahvish Khan was so brave to travel back and forth to encounter the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Most importantly, she penned down the emotions and connections she felt with the few families of the prisoners, and has shared them with the world through her diary. Well-written and an eye opener.

Side note: Guantanamo Bay is a detainment facility of the United States located in Cuba. On January 22, 2009, President Obama signed executive orders to shut down Guantanamo Bay (
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting read, and shed some light on the atrocities that were committed at Guantanamo Bay. The cycle it creates is terrifying, because can a person wrongly imprisoned and tortured ever truly return home without hate for the people and country who committed this injustice? It makes you understand why America is not viewed in a positive light in many countries, and worry for what that might mean in the future. Revenge is a viscous cycle. One wish I have for this book, is that the a ...more
Feb 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Definitely recommend to everyone--whether you're American or not, whether you're a Democrat, Republican, Independent, whether you're very political or apolitical. This story is not a story meant to shock, meant to entice, meant to thrill. It's a story intended to expose the harsh realities of the truth, the truth that will never fully be revealed. The truth of a place with no legal limitations, where both inhumanity and injustice happen. Most of us (I know I speak for myself) cannot fathom that ...more
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
An eye-opener! I really liked this book, the author's writing style is very engaging and it truly opened my eyes to the injustices and horrors of Guantanamo Bay. Most of the detainees do not give many details of the torture they receive (it's humiliating for them), but what they do tell you is very very depressing. I found myself disappointed in the US and asking myself how our country can do such things... I recommend this book to every American!! We should all know what our government is doing ...more
May 28, 2014 rated it liked it
This was a fascinating read, particularly in light of the current controversy over Bergdahl exchange. I had hoped the book was more about Khan's work to get these prisoners a trial, rather than just the experiences of the detainees she met with. Their experiences were harrowing and I can understand why a lot of critics called her a sympathizer, however, she really brings to light that so many detainees in Guantanamo were there simply because they had enemies who took advantage of the bounties th ...more
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