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Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison—Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out

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“An important story. Harrowing, and suspenseful, yes—but it’s also a deep dive into a complex and egregiously misunderstood country with two very different faces. There is no better time to know more about Iran—and Jason Rezaian has seen both of those faces.”    — Anthony Bourdain The dramatic memoir of the journalist who was held hostage in a high-security prison in Tehran “An important story. Harrowing, and suspenseful, yes—but it’s also a deep dive into a complex and egregiously misunderstood country with two very different faces. There is no better time to know more about Iran—and Jason Rezaian has seen both of those faces.”    — Anthony Bourdain The dramatic memoir of the journalist who was held hostage in a high-security prison in Tehran for eighteen months and whose release—which almost didn’t happen—became a part of the Iran nuclear deal In July 2014, Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian was arrested by Iranian police, accused of spying for America. The charges were absurd. Rezaian’s reporting was a mix of human interest stories and political analysis. He had even served as a guide for Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. Initially, Rezaian thought the whole thing was a terrible misunderstanding, but soon realized that it was much more dire as it became an eighteen-month prison stint with impossibly high diplomatic stakes.  While in prison, Rezaian had tireless advocates working on his behalf. His brother lobbied political heavyweights including John Kerry and Barack Obama and started a social media campaign—#FreeJason—while Jason’s wife navigated the red tape of the Iranian security apparatus, all while the courts used Rezaian as a bargaining chip in negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal. In Prisoner, Rezaian writes of his exhausting interrogations and farcical trial. He also reflects on his idyllic childhood in Northern California and his bond with his Iranian father, a rug merchant; how his teacher Christopher Hitchens inspired him to pursue journalism; and his life-changing decision to move to Tehran, where his career took off and he met his wife. Written with wit, humor, and grace, Prisoner brings to life a fascinating, maddening culture in all its complexity. “Jason paid a deep price in defense of  journalism and his story proves that not everyone who defends freedom carries a gun, some carry a pen.” —John F. Kerry, 68th Secretary of State

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“An important story. Harrowing, and suspenseful, yes—but it’s also a deep dive into a complex and egregiously misunderstood country with two very different faces. There is no better time to know more about Iran—and Jason Rezaian has seen both of those faces.”    — Anthony Bourdain The dramatic memoir of the journalist who was held hostage in a high-security prison in Tehran “An important story. Harrowing, and suspenseful, yes—but it’s also a deep dive into a complex and egregiously misunderstood country with two very different faces. There is no better time to know more about Iran—and Jason Rezaian has seen both of those faces.”    — Anthony Bourdain The dramatic memoir of the journalist who was held hostage in a high-security prison in Tehran for eighteen months and whose release—which almost didn’t happen—became a part of the Iran nuclear deal In July 2014, Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian was arrested by Iranian police, accused of spying for America. The charges were absurd. Rezaian’s reporting was a mix of human interest stories and political analysis. He had even served as a guide for Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. Initially, Rezaian thought the whole thing was a terrible misunderstanding, but soon realized that it was much more dire as it became an eighteen-month prison stint with impossibly high diplomatic stakes.  While in prison, Rezaian had tireless advocates working on his behalf. His brother lobbied political heavyweights including John Kerry and Barack Obama and started a social media campaign—#FreeJason—while Jason’s wife navigated the red tape of the Iranian security apparatus, all while the courts used Rezaian as a bargaining chip in negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal. In Prisoner, Rezaian writes of his exhausting interrogations and farcical trial. He also reflects on his idyllic childhood in Northern California and his bond with his Iranian father, a rug merchant; how his teacher Christopher Hitchens inspired him to pursue journalism; and his life-changing decision to move to Tehran, where his career took off and he met his wife. Written with wit, humor, and grace, Prisoner brings to life a fascinating, maddening culture in all its complexity. “Jason paid a deep price in defense of  journalism and his story proves that not everyone who defends freedom carries a gun, some carry a pen.” —John F. Kerry, 68th Secretary of State

30 review for Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison—Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    When someone comes up to Jason Rezaian, throws their arm around him, and wants to hear all the juicy bits about how he underwent torture at the hands of his Iranian jailers, they are somewhat taken aback when they discover that he wasn't physically assaulted, but underwent trauma at an even deeper level of the soul. To such a person, it is not as vicariously thrilling. But to read this generous and at times humorous memoir is to experience what this man suffered for 18 months, not knowing whethe When someone comes up to Jason Rezaian, throws their arm around him, and wants to hear all the juicy bits about how he underwent torture at the hands of his Iranian jailers, they are somewhat taken aback when they discover that he wasn't physically assaulted, but underwent trauma at an even deeper level of the soul. To such a person, it is not as vicariously thrilling. But to read this generous and at times humorous memoir is to experience what this man suffered for 18 months, not knowing whether he was going to walk free or undergo worse. And during the early part, suffering the anxiety of not knowing what Yegi, his wife, was facing since she had been arrested at the same time as he. It takes nothing away from the page-turning quality of this book to know that they both survived their ordeals and live in the United States. In fact, whole sections reduced me to tears. The continued efforts on the part of Yegi, his mother and brother Ali, as well as his Washington Post confederates, were instrumental in securing his release, but it is his spirit and his ability to find something to laugh at each and every day that has made his eventual healing possible. As with most books written by reporters, the writing here is clear, sharp and to the point. Last night I had the privilege of seeing him in conversation with W. Kameau Bell, his wife and mother also in the room. His persona is one of gentle humorousness, intelligence, and makes me all the happier that things have turned out as they did for him.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Diane Yannick

    Frustration is writing a review that disappears. Only doing this a second time because the book deserves it. At times I felt like I too was serving time in an Iranian prison. I had to hurry up and finish it so I could get out of my sordid cell. Parts of the book are monotonous; it needed to be this way for me to understand the experience. Jason and his wife Selehi are ambushed and imprisoned over trumped up charges. They are accused of being spies primarily because they started a tongue- in-chee Frustration is writing a review that disappears. Only doing this a second time because the book deserves it. At times I felt like I too was serving time in an Iranian prison. I had to hurry up and finish it so I could get out of my sordid cell. Parts of the book are monotonous; it needed to be this way for me to understand the experience. Jason and his wife Selehi are ambushed and imprisoned over trumped up charges. They are accused of being spies primarily because they started a tongue- in-cheek Kickstarter to bring avocados to Iran. Since The Rezaians spent parts of each year in CA and Iran, Jason was missing avocados. The Iranian captors were sure that this was a code word for some nefarious goings on. It was not. They saw his disorganized email and felt that this was more evidence that they were trying to spy. None of their charges made any sense but they were after one thing only---a confession by Jason that he was a spy. Actually, Jason was a Tehran bureau chief for the Washington Post who was trying to report fairly on Iranian politics and culture. His wife was Iranian and she too was jailed for part of his imprisonment. Although Jason was not physically abused, he was mentally tortured. There was no routine just threats of death, solitary confinement and endless interrogations. He was consistently blindfolded when he left his cell and never knew what was around the next corner. Although Jason had no way to know it, lots of people including Mohammed Ali were lobbying for his release. His mother and the rest of his family were persistent and brave throughout the ordeal. One of his saving graces was that he never lost his sense of humor. One of the guards kept begging him to sing them a song. He made him stand then sang The Star Spangled Banner. Innocent people are being sent to Iranian prisons every day. We need to put a stop to this foolishness but it'll never happen while DT is president. Serving time when you are innocent must be one of the worst ordeals a human can suffer. Jason is currently writing opinion pieces for the Post and contributes to CNN. I'm glad he wrote this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tamila

    بسیار لذت بردم. معتقدم نویسنده های زندگینامه دو دسته اند. دسته اول فقط برای فروش مینویسند. از یک اتفاق تاریخی یا شهرت اتفاقی استفاده میکنند که کتاب پر فروشی بنویسند. تا حد ممکن احساسات نویسنده را به گروگان میگیرند و در تلاشند احساسات خواننده را با کتاب خود سوار ترن هوایی کنند. دسته دوم برای تاریخ مینویسند. مینویسند که سرگذشتشان در آینده منبعی قابل رجوع باشد. رضائیان را در دسته دوم میبینم. هیچ تلاشی برای به تصویر کشیدن شخصیتی سفید و قهرمان از خود نکرد و شخصیت کاظم را هم سیاه و پلید نشان نداد. در بسیار لذت بردم. معتقدم نویسنده های زندگینامه دو دسته اند. دسته اول فقط برای فروش مینویسند. از یک اتفاق تاریخی یا شهرت اتفاقی استفاده میکنند که کتاب پر فروشی بنویسند. تا حد ممکن احساسات نویسنده را به گروگان میگیرند و در تلاشند احساسات خواننده را با کتاب خود سوار ترن هوایی کنند. دسته دوم برای تاریخ مینویسند. مینویسند که سرگذشتشان در آینده منبعی قابل رجوع باشد. رضائیان را در دسته دوم میبینم. هیچ تلاشی برای به تصویر کشیدن شخصیتی سفید و قهرمان از خود نکرد و شخصیت کاظم را هم سیاه و پلید نشان نداد. در آخر قصه کاظم را در آغوش کشید و به خواننده یادآوری کرد که او هم انسان بود. چندین بار تکرار کرد که هیچ خشونت بدنی را تجربه نکرده، از لحظه های خوشحال زندان هم نوشت و همین شد که قسمتهای عذاب آور قصه قابل درک شد.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kirby

    A great book and not what I expected. I am embarrassed to share that I did not know much about Jason Rezaian's story other than the fact that he was in an Iranian prison and was associated with the Iran nuclear deal. I assumed that this would be a prison memoir in the category of Unbroken, with the author enduring and overcoming the trauma of abuse in captivity. There is no torture in this book, and that is part of the terrible deception of Rezaian's imprisonment. His captors often emphasized th A great book and not what I expected. I am embarrassed to share that I did not know much about Jason Rezaian's story other than the fact that he was in an Iranian prison and was associated with the Iran nuclear deal. I assumed that this would be a prison memoir in the category of Unbroken, with the author enduring and overcoming the trauma of abuse in captivity. There is no torture in this book, and that is part of the terrible deception of Rezaian's imprisonment. His captors often emphasized that their treatment of him was "not that bad." They didn't beat or physically abuse him. After spending months in solitary, he was given a roommate, and the prison "allowed" him regular kabob deliveries and conjugal visits with his wife. But none of this erases the fact that he was falsely imprisoned for a year and a half of his life, in a nation where he had a legal visa to do the exact work that he was arrested for, with no due process, was regularly interrogated for the duration of his captivity, and was separated from his wife and family, with lies being spread about him on an international level.... "not that bad." Rezaian maintains a tone of fearless contempt and ridicule for his captors, regularly referring to them as "clowns" and calling his judge "without exaggeration, one of the dumbest people I have ever encountered." This is a reminder that fools can ruin lives just as much as evil geniuses or sadists. It's also a reminder that the bar should never be lowered to "did they get tortured" as a barometer for hardship, in any country. False imprisonment can destroy people, period.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marika

    This book is the definition of nonfiction that reads like fiction. The author (Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian) was arrested by Iranian police in July 2014. He was accused of spying for America, which was, and is absurd. He details the initial arrest which took place in his and his wife's apartment and the thoughts that were going through his head. "Is this for real, this sound like a movie plot" and more. It was so implausible but it was happening. He's blindfolded (way before This book is the definition of nonfiction that reads like fiction. The author (Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian) was arrested by Iranian police in July 2014. He was accused of spying for America, which was, and is absurd. He details the initial arrest which took place in his and his wife's apartment and the thoughts that were going through his head. "Is this for real, this sound like a movie plot" and more. It was so implausible but it was happening. He's blindfolded (way before BirdBox fame) when he was taken out of his cell, even to meet his own lawyer. Threats of death and dismemberment were tactics that were used almost daily on him. One can understand why prisoners get worn down by interrogations. Quite scary. Jason was *lucky* in that his brother worked hard to lobby for him and started a social media campaign, #FreeJason all while Iranian courts used him as a bargaining chip in negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal. I read an advance copy and was not compensated

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

    (It hurts to give a memoir a bad review, and even more so a memoir of captivity. So let me preface this review by saying that I have nothing but respect for Rezaian and all he endured. I am sure it was even more difficult and complicated than he detailed in this book and anything negative I write here is directed toward the book and how he portrays himself and events in it, not him on a personal level or his lived experiences.) I told Jeremy early on that this book was really good. Then today I t (It hurts to give a memoir a bad review, and even more so a memoir of captivity. So let me preface this review by saying that I have nothing but respect for Rezaian and all he endured. I am sure it was even more difficult and complicated than he detailed in this book and anything negative I write here is directed toward the book and how he portrays himself and events in it, not him on a personal level or his lived experiences.) I told Jeremy early on that this book was really good. Then today I told him I finished it and that I didn't like (almost hated) it. What changed? Well, it's simple: I got to know the author. You see, this memoir is one of those books where you find yourself not really wanting to spend time with the author's overt presence! But guess what, this author's overt presence is on every page because a) it's a memoir, of b) his time in prison. There is no escape to be had, and he is insufferable. Let me be more specific: in this book he comes off as culturally insensitive at best/racist at worst. He is misogynistic. He is petty. He is mean. And he takes every opportunity to be sarcastic or to show contempt. You know it's getting bad when you start noticing these things and then say to yourself, "well, but he IS unjustly imprisoned in Iran" and then you reply to yourself "...but still." So yes, but still. Here is an example of cultural insensitivity that made me gasp out loud: "Due to a difference in the number of days between the Islamic lunar calendar and the accurate one that the rest of the world - the world that has long understood and accepted that the Earth revolves around the sun - uses..." My dude! I don't even know what to say to this! Here are some examples of him never missing a chance to disparage a woman in the room: [When he meets his wife and her friends/sisters] "It wasn't long before the door opened and a bunch of branded shopping bags entered the suite accompanied by three young Iranian women: two with fair complexions and lacking any kind of discernable energy, and one whose skin seemed to glow from being in the desert sun's rays." Why the mention of skin color here? Why complain about a woman's lack of pertness in his presence? Why the shopping bags? [When he meets the prosecuting attorney] "[The other attorney] had been replaced by a young, wiry, and uppity mustached female in a black chador...She kept going, livid, squawking like some kind of rabid bird..." He has plenty of bad things to say about the male attorneys, too, but none of them are uppity and they never squawk. And the mustache...I just...why?? This woman - excuse me, FEMALE - is doing her lawyer stuff the best that she can and she's doing it in a CHADOR. Maybe she couldn't be bothered to wax her upper lip before showing up in court?!? He makes fun of the way his Iranian guards speak and pronounce English. This hurt my heart. I have read books where such teasing is done in a funny, endearing way that adds color to the setting, but here, it's just mean. These issues aside, there are hints here of a book I would have liked more. One of the things I like about captivity narratives is learning more about what happens when people have nowhere to go but inside their own minds. Terry Waite in Taken on Trust applied his hostage-mediation strategies to his own situation. The hostages in Guests of the Ayatollah read All Of The Books. Amanda Lindhout built her House in the Sky. There is very little of that here. Every once in a while there was a throwaway line about the pidgin language he cobbled together to communicate with his cellmates, or how he preferred certain kinds of books over others. I wanted to hear so much more about that! But there seemed to be no place in this book for introspection, structure, and noble striving; instead, there was just rage, pettiness, and contempt. I think what Rezaian went through was horrible and I'm very glad he was released. And he doesn't owe me or anyone else the book we wish he had written. But I do wish I had read the Wikipedia article instead of this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Scott Hitchcock

    Really interesting look into an American captive in Iran who is of Iranian heritage. What happens when you're illegally detained losing almost two years of your life and how it changes you. The treatment, mind games, politics.....

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    What a wild ride! I can’t imagine what this must have been like for him. While so many can say that he shouldn’t have been in Iran working as a journalist and brush it off that way, the author had ties to Iran and absolutely deserved to be there. To be imprisoned for the act of journalism is horrible! I’m happy that he was able to survive without much incident and be released. I feel for those left to languish because they aren’t as well connected.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Karyl

    Many years ago when I was in my early 20s, I started dating a guy at my work who happened to have been born in Iran. His father saw what was going on with the increase in radicalism and sent his wife and two young sons to England to protect them. Eventually the three of them made their way to Canada, where my boyfriend was raised, and then later as an adult he came to the US. As a result, he is a very Westernized guy. But he still knew of his homeland’s traditions, and I was lucky enough to be a Many years ago when I was in my early 20s, I started dating a guy at my work who happened to have been born in Iran. His father saw what was going on with the increase in radicalism and sent his wife and two young sons to England to protect them. Eventually the three of them made their way to Canada, where my boyfriend was raised, and then later as an adult he came to the US. As a result, he is a very Westernized guy. But he still knew of his homeland’s traditions, and I was lucky enough to be able to partake in Persian cuisine every time we went to his aunt and uncle’s house. Because of this, I’ve been fascinated by Iran, and even more so after I read Marjane Satrapi’s The Complete Persepolis, which details how free Iran was before the revolution and how oppressive it was afterward, as seen though the eyes of a female child. Jason Rezaian was born to an Iranian man and his American wife, and grew up steeped in Iranian traditions. He went back to his homeland to report on everyday life in the Islamic Republic for the Washington Post, and it was there that he met his wife Yeganeh (Yegi). At one point, missing the food of his California childhood, he started a Kickstarter to bring the avocado to Iran. It was this that ultimately led to his arrest. Iranian authorities insisted his avocado fundraiser was truly some sort of covert espionage. He spent the next 544 days in captivity, never physically assaulted, but constantly under the stress of emotional and psychological torture. This is an incredible memoir. It’s amazing to me that Rezaian didn’t break, that he didn’t go absolutely batshit crazy when confronted with the same convoluted and insane "logic" of his captors day after day. And it shows how little freedom people in these oppressive regimes have, that even an American citizen could be held in a prison on completely trumped up and false charges. I’m just so glad his mother and his brother never gave up and kept his name in the news. Without their tireless efforts, it’s possible that Rezaian would still be in jail.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kate Headley

    I enjoyed this book, particularly appreciating his unique view as an American-Iranian. Jason was actively trying to build a life with one foot in the US, and the other in Iran. He has (or at least had) a pragmatic view of both countries. His story did leave me wanting, though. I thought it was a bit of a shallow dive into the experience where so much of his thoughts and feelings were left unexplored. But perhaps it was too soon for him to really dig into it. But ultimately, I think this book is I enjoyed this book, particularly appreciating his unique view as an American-Iranian. Jason was actively trying to build a life with one foot in the US, and the other in Iran. He has (or at least had) a pragmatic view of both countries. His story did leave me wanting, though. I thought it was a bit of a shallow dive into the experience where so much of his thoughts and feelings were left unexplored. But perhaps it was too soon for him to really dig into it. But ultimately, I think this book is a must read so that we can all have a better appreciation of the risks that journalists face, and what they are sacrificing to share important truths. I hope his story will continue to push countries like Iran to actually work on improving their human rights record.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Jason Rezaian, Washington Post journalist in Iran, was arrested in 2014 without cause and kept in an Iranian prison for 544 days. He tells the story in Prisoner, along with some background on his family and a very sweet story about meeting his wife. The book is not disturbing in the aggressive way one might think when reading about journalists in foreign prisons; he was not physically tortured in the ways you might imagine -or stop yourself from imagining. But as he says, he was tortured in ever Jason Rezaian, Washington Post journalist in Iran, was arrested in 2014 without cause and kept in an Iranian prison for 544 days. He tells the story in Prisoner, along with some background on his family and a very sweet story about meeting his wife. The book is not disturbing in the aggressive way one might think when reading about journalists in foreign prisons; he was not physically tortured in the ways you might imagine -or stop yourself from imagining. But as he says, he was tortured in every other way: held alone in solitary confinement and later kept out of the general prison population, separated from his wife and loved ones, separated from all life outside, the constant anxiety of being locked up and not knowing what will happen next. It's disturbing to really stop and think about that, especially when I think how annoying some little inconveniences or separations from my family can be. The book also got me thinking about criminal justice, immigration, refugee resettlement in America...unfortunately you can't read this book and say, 'Geeze Iran, America would NEVER behave like that.' At least we've still got our American hope that we can keep working and fix our injustices.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sydney Elizabeth

    Pod Save the World was right — Prisoner is far more than a book about imprisonment. This story is about family and love, the dangers and adventures of being a journalist, and the challenges that dual citizens, specifically Iranian Americans, have faced and continue to face. Rezaian writes a beautiful and raw tale.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chuck

    Interesting book but, I struggled through much of the meat of it. Still, an eye opener about how far many societies need to evolve.

  14. 4 out of 5

    William

    3.5

  15. 4 out of 5

    Simon Moskovitz

    Interesting story but I suggest just listening to his story or a magazine feature instead of reading 300 pages.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor Cowan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. "Officially, Iran's judiciary carried out 977 executions in 2015." Without the persistence of his mother, brother, wife, Washington Post colleagues, friends, and caring citizens, Jason Rezaian could be dead. Every time Rezaian wrote of a rescue intervention by his devoted team, this reader considered the women in Tehran's Evin Prison who are, as Rezaian pointed out, often raped. When given 'privileges' such as coffee, take-out food, phone calls, and conjugal visits, his guards reminded Rezaian t "Officially, Iran's judiciary carried out 977 executions in 2015." Without the persistence of his mother, brother, wife, Washington Post colleagues, friends, and caring citizens, Jason Rezaian could be dead. Every time Rezaian wrote of a rescue intervention by his devoted team, this reader considered the women in Tehran's Evin Prison who are, as Rezaian pointed out, often raped. When given 'privileges' such as coffee, take-out food, phone calls, and conjugal visits, his guards reminded Rezaian that Evin Prison was not as bad as the American torture center of Guantanamo. Yes, the banality of evil and false imprisonment is not unique to Iran. Over and over, Rezaian underscores the ignorance and stupidity of prison staff who carry out the cruel commands of the "Great Judge" while knowing the charges are false. Injustice ordered from above, is always carried out from below by co-dependent colluders who swap integrity for a paycheck. This reader hopes that now-freed journalists Rezaian and Yeganeh will point their pens to rescue the helpless languishing behind. Eleanor Cowan, author of : A History of a Pedophile's Wife: Memoir of a Canadian Teacher and Writer

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    My rating has more to do with the narration than the actual book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Scott Hunter

    Great account of trials and tribulations of being a journalist in Iran

  19. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I had followed the story on the news and appreciated hearing from Jason about what was happening to him in his own words. Grateful he made it out alive but very harrowing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Abbie Olson

    Rezaian is an Iranian-American journalist who was held for 544 days in a prison in Tehran under an extremely uncorroborated suspicion of him being an American spy (there’s a pretty hilarious subplot about Rezaian’s attempt to bring avocados to the country and officials in Tehran assuming “avocado” is a code word for malicious espionage). This book is sardonic, poignant, extremely relevant, and I can’t think of a better time to learn about Iran. READ NOW.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Reporters who go into harm’s way to get a story are to be commended. Jason Rezaian got caught up in the fantasy land of Iran and was imprisoned for 18 months.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jody

    Appreciated the author's wry humor and perspective as he is imprisonment in Iran. Hope his wife also writes a book from her point of view. The book's imprint is "An Anthony Bourdain Book".

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sytse

    Interesting read, although the writer failed to really captivate the whole situation to me, I guess because he never went too much into details of his suffering. But this is a positive thing, as it does not need to rely on making the story more sensational than it is. Nonetheless a nice entry into a horrible situation, recommending it only if you are interested in these kind of stories.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Johannes

    Imagine the horror of Franz Kafka's "The Trial" come-to-life, and you have "Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison." Rezaian, an American journalist, was arrested in Iran on July 22, 2014, without any stated reason for his arrest. After 9 months, he was finally told his crime was espionage, and he was convicted on evidence less solid than mist.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    I listened to this one, narrated by Jason himself. It is a fascinating story. He was a bureau chief in Tehran for the Washington Post and kidnapped and interrogated by men who had his emails that they did not understand and interpreted as meaning he was a spy. It was ludicrous but the poor man was held for months in solitary confinement and then in prison for a total of 544 days. Oh, they also held his wife! They let her go after a few months.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Wolf

    In Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison—Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out, Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian recounts the 544 days in which he was wrongfully imprisoned in Iran. In early 2019, Prisoner is more topical than ever. Following the murder of Rezaian's colleague, Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabian forces in Turkey in October, Rezaian's book paints a picture of another authoritarian go In Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison—Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out, Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian recounts the 544 days in which he was wrongfully imprisoned in Iran. In early 2019, Prisoner is more topical than ever. Following the murder of Rezaian's colleague, Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabian forces in Turkey in October, Rezaian's book paints a picture of another authoritarian government, Iran, and the fight to silence press — particularly those who work for foreign entities. In this tale, Rezaian not only documents his 544 days in Iran's Evin prison — which is known across the globe for its detainment and treatment of its prisoners — but provides insight into life in Iran, something most Americans are not privy to. Rezaian does not demonize the regular people of Iran, but rather shows a true admiration and love of their culture and people. From food, to clothing, to unique mannerisms and experiences, Rezaian portrays a world that would leave many interested in visiting the country. In it all, Rezaian showcases his wit and humor — both as a narrator of his own story, and in accounts of his experience with his captors. Notably, the relationship between Rezaian and Kazem, Rezaian's Evin interrogator, is a complex one that develops throughout the book. In his portrayal of Kazem, Rezaian does a fantastic job of providing understanding of someone who believes they are doing the right thing to serve their government and their system, even when that act — wrongfully detaining a journalist — is so bizarre. I would recommend Prisoner to anyone wanting to learn more about the world, particularly the Middle East and Iran in a fair account of both their layman and their government system. This book puts press freedom, the need for it and how fortunate the United States is to uphold such standards — even as many journalists are currently under public attack — into true perspective.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    A must read for everyone.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gene Killian

    Disturbing story about imprisonment in Iran Rezaian is a Washington Post reporter who got imprisoned in Iran (where he held dual citizenship) for the “crime” of reporting on public events. So did his wife, I guess for being his wife. Iran has a nasty habit of seizing hostages to use as bargaining chips. The book takes you through the story of his imprisonment and eventual release, and the friends (and enemies) he made in prison. There’s a good account (toward the end) of the Obama Administration’ Disturbing story about imprisonment in Iran Rezaian is a Washington Post reporter who got imprisoned in Iran (where he held dual citizenship) for the “crime” of reporting on public events. So did his wife, I guess for being his wife. Iran has a nasty habit of seizing hostages to use as bargaining chips. The book takes you through the story of his imprisonment and eventual release, and the friends (and enemies) he made in prison. There’s a good account (toward the end) of the Obama Administration’s reasoning and thinking in its Iran negotiations. What comes across is that Rezaian loves Iran’s people and feels deep sorrow for the way its oppressive government has betrayed them. A good read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    Really fascinating memoir of Jason’s time in prison as well as tidbits about his family, and falling in love with his wife. Well-written, and a different prisoner experience than I’ve read before. As a social worker, I would have been interested to read more about how he is living post-prison, and adapting to life back in the US.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Julie Foss

    I found this to be very interesting and informative.

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