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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
Narrated by: Jason Rezaian
Length: 9 hrs and 34 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Summary

The dramatic memoir of the journalist who was held hostage in a high-security prison in Tehran for 18 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 it was much more dire as it became an 18-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. 

Authored 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)

©2019 Jason Rezaian (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Gary
  • 06-02-19

Very well done.

Excellent book. Engaging, thoughtful, informative and important. And, I am grateful for your brother. Welcome home to you, your wife and your Mom!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Angela Harrison
  • 02-02-19

Compelling from start to finish!

I couldn't stop listening to the book. Amazing story, great writing and the narration was fantastic.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeff Rigby
  • 16-10-19

great story and powerful experience

this is a great story and experience that everyone should hear. I highly recommend and probably listen to again.

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  • Warren
  • 29-07-19

Lacks insight

While the author’s plight is truly terrible, the story lacks depth and insight. Did not come away with any greater understanding of how or why the Iranian government thinks or acts as it does. Wish it had.

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  • Sahil
  • 22-06-19

The world is nuts

He has an interesting personal history (family background and his ventures in Iran prior to imprisonment) in addition to the craziness of being held in a prison by a regime with false accusations. Surprised by the frenemy-like relationship between him and the prison staff. Also enjoyed him as a narrator.

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  • Sample Sloth
  • 17-04-19

Should have been much better given subject matter

Amazingly boring story considering the circumstances behind it. Probably should have been about one third as long as there just isn’t much there. Story is mostly just the day to day tedium of a relatively hospitable prison. Author isn’t a particularly good writer. It’s almost like he’s just telling the story in a bar. Only really his own reaction and perception represented like it’s a sophomoric diary. And his narration is even more uninspiring. I wanted to get some greater sense of Iran and its political and prison culture, but this is a very shallow American point of view.

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  • Michael
  • 23-03-19

Fascinating story

This is a well told story, authentic, engaging, relevant and moving. I highly recommend it.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 18-03-19

Mesmerizing!

I went back-and-forth on whether to read this book or listen to it on audible and I’m so glad I listened! Listening to Jason read his own story added a layer of integrity and personality that I really appreciated!

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  • M. Graham
  • 14-03-19

Journalism and Freedom

This is an excellent look into the disaster of "justice" in countries without any sense of fairness. Through the descriptions of Mr. Rezaian, I got a much better look at how dysfunctional it is in Iran.

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  • Megan
  • 02-03-19

Very insightful!

I've always wondered and thought of Jason and his wife. I remember watching that episode of Anthony Bourdain in Iraq, being intrigued by the couple and then in shock when at the end of the show, Anthony announces that they were arrested by Iraqi officials. I did not actively follow the news, just hoped and prayed something was being done to help these people, good people. I'm happy to finally hear the story in Jason's own words. I'm happy they are safe in America. I despise what they endured, but maybe it's a lesson for us all. Great book Jason, I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.