Guantánamo Diary

GTMO diary cover“A vision of hell, beyond Orwell, beyond Kafka: perpetual torture prescribed by the mad doctors of Washington.”
          — John le Carré

“Anyone who reads Guantánamo Diary — and anyone with a shred of conscience should do so, now — will be ashamed and appalled. Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s demand for simple justice should be our call to action. Because what’s at stake in this case is not just the fate of one man who, against all odds, managed to tell his story, but the future of our democracy as well.”

— Glenn Greenwald

 

** Watch film, hear readings, and read full Guardian coverage at guantanamodiary.com **

** See News and Reviews for latest reviews of Guantánamo Diary **

In the summer and fall of 2005, in an isolation hut in Guantánamo, Mohamedou Ould Slahi handwrote a memoir of what he calls his “endless world tour” of detention and interrogation — an odyssey that began when he turned himself in for questioning in his native Mauritania in November 2001, and included renditions to Jordan, then to Bagram in Afghanistan, and finally to Guantánamo, where he was subjected to one of the most stubborn, deliberate, and cruel Guantánamo interrogations on record.

For almost seven years, the U.S. government held the 466-page manuscript as a classified secret. It continues to hold Mohamedou Ould Slahi himself, although the federal judge who heard his habeas corpus petition in 2010 ordered him released, and although he has never been charged with any crime.

This January, the world will at last be able to read Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s story in his own words, when Little Brown in the United States, Canongate in the United Kingdom, and publishers in eleven other countries will publish Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s Guantánamo Diary.

Were it nothing more than a first-person account of his incarceration, it would be a remarkable book: there are no other such first-hand, inside accounts of the life of a long-term GTMO prisoner. That it happens to be the account of a detainee identified—mistakenly, there is no longer any doubt—as a major 9/11 conspirator and targeted for one of the prison’s most brutal interrogations ensures that it will have a central and permanent place in the literature of this troubling chapter of American history. But what moves Guantánamo Diary beyond testimonial and witness literature and into a wider realm of literature altogether is Slahi himself—not as character in America’s post-9/11 drama, but as writer, a writer with a keen eye, a full emotional register including indomitable humor, and an astonishingly accessible and prepossessing voice. That voice is propelled by a singular, humane purpose: “to be as fair as possible,” as he wrote, “to the U.S. Government, to my brothers, and to myself.”

As I wrote in Slate last year, “Slahi’s writing is much more than a litany of abuses. It is driven by something much deeper: not just the desire to be fair, as he puts it, but to understand his guards, his interrogators, and his fellow detainees, and to show that even the most dehumanizing situations are composed of individual, and at times harrowingly intimate, human exchanges. The result is an account that is both damning and redeeming.”

Guantánamo Diary is available now in the United States (Hachette), the United Kingdom (Canongate), Norway (Cappelen Damm), France (Michel Lafon), the Netherlands (de Boekerij), Italy (Piemme), Germany (Klett/Tropen), Finland (Like), Slovak Republic (Tatran), Croatia (Profil), Denmark (Art People), Portugal (20/20 Editora), Sweden (Norstedts), Turkey (Belge), Czech Republic (Jota), Greece (Psichogios), Brazil (Companhia das Letras), Indonesia (Noura), Serbia (Laguna), Lebanon (Dar al-Saqi), Mexico (Planeta), Bosnia (Buybook), Japan (Kawada Shobo), Croatia (Profil Knjiga), Spain (Agora), Czech Republic (Jota Nakladatelstvi), and Poland (Muza), and forthcoming in Russia (AST), Romania (Corint), Hungary (Maxim), and China (CUPLP) 

 

 

 

 

The Torture Report: What the Documents Say About America’s Post 9/11 Torture Program

OR Book Going Rouge“Indispensable in this time of affliction when torture is justified and even celebrated by those who were elected to uphold the law rather than to flaunt it. Indispensable because of the array of precise information this book includes, but especially because Larry Siems stays true and bears witness to the heartache and devastation that torture creates not only among victims but also among those who interrogate and will be haunted forever by what they did, by what so many bystanders allowed them to do.” — Ariel Dorfman

“I thought I knew the account of American torture post 9/11. I didn’t. Don’t think you do until you have read Siems’ book. He threads together strands from thousands of official documents and gives the reader a compelling, page turning story of illegality at the very top and the cruelty imposed on victims at the very bottom. You will come away from this book knowing what Siems learned: the excuses, justifications and claims of legality for torture were an immoral fraud and that torture begets torture. The Torture Report forcefully reminds us that cleansing our country from torture’s inhumanity is an absolute imperative.” — Michael Ratner, president, Center for Constitutional Rights

Sometimes the truth is buried in front of us. That is the case with more than 140,000 government documents relating to abuse of prisoners by U.S. forces during the “war on terror,” brought to light by Freedom of Information Act litigation. As the lead author of the ACLU’s report on these documents, Larry Siems was in a unique position to chronicle who did what, to whom and when. This book, written with the pace and intensity of a thriller, serves as a tragic reminder of what happens when commitments to law, common sense, and human dignity are cast aside, when it becomes difficult to discern the difference between two groups intent on perpetrating extreme violence on their fellow human beings.

To order The Torture Report, click here.

Between the Lines: Letters Between Mexican and Central American Immigrants and Their Families and Friends

BTL-cover.jpg “These letters stand as invaluable testimonies to the lives of countless invisible, unheard beings that the media and the U.S. government would have remain anonymous. In other centuries they would have arrived in the hulls of ships, in shackles or in third-class steerage. Here, remarkably, is history told by the participants themselves to lend a reality to the unreality of statistics and to counter the ‘official’ story. By allowing these voices to speak, Mr. Siems has restored them their humanity.” –Sandra Cisneros

A diverse and inspiring array of letters that reveals the hardships, tragedies, and triumphs of undocumented immigrants in the United States and the families they left behind in Mexico and Central America. From a lively and intimate correspondence between two young Mexican women, to the love letters between separated couples, to the urgent and exasperated exhortations between grandparents, husbands, wives, daughters, sons, and cousins, these letters vividly capture the vitality, rhythms, and nuances of these unique voices. Between the Lines is a living document told in the words of the immigrants themselves, giving dignity and humanity to the harsh statistics and the economic threat to which many would have them reduced. In a time of growing anti-immigrant sentiment around the world, these letters strike down the barriers between “Us” and “Other.” Lively, honest, and engaging, they give us not only a better understanding of our neighbors to the south, but also afford a revealing and unsparing perspective on ourselves as well.

To order Between The Lines, click here.