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Novel review: In the Presence of My Enemies

Title: In the Presence of My Enemiesburnham

Author: Gracia Burnham

Summary: From Amazon.com

In this remarkably honest and unaffected memoir, Burnham tells the story of her captivity at the hands of Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim extremist group in the Philippines. For just over a year, she and her husband Martin, a missionary pilot, lived with their captors and a variety of other hostages in the Philippine jungle. In a botched rescue attempt, the Philippine army shot and killed Martin Burnham and Ediborah Yap, a nurse who was the other remaining hostage. Gracia Burnham was also shot, but rescued and treated for a leg wound. Burnham hauntingly depicts the alchemical reaction of deep Christian faith, Stockholm Syndrome and the unremitting terror of hostage life. The odd intimacy among the hostages and captors comes across in surprisingly frank conversations. At one point, Martin boldly refers to all the bad things the captors have done to the hostages, only to have one of them look at him quizzically and claim he has never done any harm to the hostages. The captors, in fact, do unspeakable things, such as beheading hostages or taking them as unwilling “wives.” Impressively, Burnham makes no attempt to dramatize these events for shock value, nor does she use this book as an occasion for Christian triumphalism. Instead, she chronicles both her high and low moments as a Christian during that year, and shows tremendous respect and love for members of other faiths with whom she lived. While some of the book is written for a Christian audience, a much wider audience will appreciate Burnham’s brave, artless account of these horrific events.

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Positive Elements: I just have to say “WOW”! Ms. Burnham told her story in a way that made me feel like I was there with her. I found myself looking at the dates in her story and thinking about what I was doing then, while she was sitting in the jungle. Her honest and open dialogue about her thoughts and feelings, really grabbed at my heart. I have to agree with the summary review in that Ms. Burnham did not give graphic details of certain events. She could of done so and that would of added some shock value to the story. I respect the fact that she chose not to do so. A book that you will not want to put down!

Sexual Content: There is some talk of the captors taking some of the hostages as their “wives”. There is not any vivid descriptions, but I thought I would point this out.

Violent Content: This is a story of a kidnapping and hostage situation. There are accounts of the kidnapping, the time in capivity and a beheading which could disturb some.

Profanity: None that I can recall.

Drug Content: None.

Conclusion: I enjoyed reading this story. Not because I like reading stories about kidnapping, but because I like reading stories about faith and hope. Ms. Burnham lives her life during this year as a Christian woman who has her highs and lows with God. Much like all of us in our own lives. An inspirational story by and amazing woman of God. A must read!

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