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Summary

A photographer captured in Syria and imprisoned for seven months recounts his story and how he became the first American ever to escape al-Qaeda.

"What is your name?" asked General Mohammad.

"Matthew," I said. I had stopped saying Matt a while ago because it means "dead" in Arabic.

On New Year's Eve in 2012, Matthew Schrier was headed home from Syria, where he'd been photographing the intense combat of the country's civil war. Just 45 minutes from the safety of the Turkish border, he was taken prisoner by the al-Nusra Front, an organization the world would come to know as the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda.

Over the next seven months he would endure torture and near starvation in six brutal terrorist prisons. He would face a daily struggle just to survive. And, eventually, he would escape. In this gripping, raw, and surprisingly funny memoir, Schrier details the horrifying and frequently surreal experience of being a slight, wisecracking Jewish guy held captive by the world's most violent Islamic extremists. Managing to keep his heritage a secret, Schrier used humor to develop relationships with his captors - and to keep himself sane during the long months of captivity.

The Dawn Prayer (or How to Survive in a Secret Syrian Terrorist Prison) is a tale of patriotism and unimaginable bleakness shot through with light, of despair and friendship, sacrifice and betrayal, in a setting of bombed-out buildings and shifting alliances. It's the story of the first Westerner to escape al-Qaeda - not a battle-hardened soldier, but an ordinary New Yorker who figured out how to set his escape plan in motion from a scene in Jurassic Park. From the prisoners' fiercely competitive hacky-sack games and volleyball tournaments (played using a ball made of shredded orange peels and a shoelace) to his own truly nail-biting breakout, Matthew Schrier's story is unforgettable - and one you won't want to miss.

©2018 Matthew Schrier (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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What listeners say about The Dawn Prayer (or How to Survive in a Secret Syrian Terrorist Prison)

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Interesting story.

Whilst I found this book interesting, sadly I have to say that I find the author obnoxious.
The narration was excellent.

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Really great story

I really enjoyed listening to this, it was a very interesting story that kept me wanting to listen and it was quite entertaining too. I really liked the narration, it wasn’t by the author but was very well acted. I couldn’t wait to get to the end to find out what happened. Highly recommended.

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Ohmidays!

If you didn't know this was true, you'd struggle to believe it. Quite how Matthew Schrier managed not to lose his mind is a testament to the strength of his character. I was overwhelmed again and again by the torture and mind games played on this photo journalist. Yet every time they knocked him down he got back up and continued to fight for his humanity. Talk about put your own problems into perspective. The treatment he received from his own government is as shocking as the suffering he experienced at the hands of his captors. All in all, a horrific story which needs telling so lessons can be learned. My hat is off Mr Schrier, you are a hero for every man

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Riveting

You can feel the emotions in this story. Well written and preformed. I am no literary critique but This book was consistently gripping. You never know how much humans can endure until put to the test. Loved it, felt it and admired the tenacity and loyalty.

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I'm chocked!

I just listened through the entire book in one go!

So many emotions going through me in this one. Disgust - sorrow - heartbreak - wrath, and pride!

Such an intelligent man he is Mr. Matthew. Wow!

I truly wish him a good life to these end. If one deserves it, it is him! 💪📸

Ps. Do you know why so many people haven't got any integrity? Because Matthew has it all.

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Wow

This is unlike any hostage account I have ever read. I'm not sure what to make of it to be honest. I'll give Theo Padno's book a read first but I kept asking myself, "Is this guy for real?!" Towards the end of the book he talks about his background and it starts to make a lot more sense. Self confidence can take you far. I wish I had just an ounce of this guy's charisma. Definitely worth a read if you're into the Syria conflict, military, adventure, or keen on learning how not to travel in conflict zones.

Narrator does an excellent job. More acting in style than straight narration but not over the top at any point.

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  • Deme
  • 21-04-19

Inspiring and Moving

This man is an American hero. I will treasure the lessons this book has forever, he's such an inspiration. Using humor to get through dark times and coming out on the other side more badass than ever

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-09-18

My favorite book

I enjoy audio books and I listen to them weekly. This one stands out as one of my, if not my, all time favorite. Not only was the authors words so personably presented, but the readers voice made it feel like you were there. What a story!

1 person found this helpful

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  • alexandria
  • 08-09-18

Great Read

He spoke at my graduation from SERE. The guy is the real deal and he is hilarious so I made it a point to read his book. Loved it. A modern story of perseverance and grit. It’s written in a way that mirrors his “New Yorker” humor and swagger which is quite a humorous contrast with the jihadis’.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Crystal Matthews
  • 01-01-22

Incredible

I very rarely write reviews but I haven’t listened to a book I was so drawn into for a long time. And the narrator was beyond perfect. I Highly suggest this book to anyone and everyone.

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  • jennifer arguello
  • 29-12-21

Stellar Narration!

This is an incredible book. It was made even better with the chosen narrator.
I loved this book and laughed out loud at times.

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  • wendy1982
  • 16-12-21

Excellent book!!

I loved listening to this book great insight into what it's like to be captured by Al-Quada. Very good narration also.

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  • Tara F
  • 09-12-21

I can not recommend this book enough.

I couldn't step away from this book. I Heard Matt on a podcast and just needed more details, he is such a positive voice despite his horrible experiences.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 15-10-21

great book

need to make a movie based on the book and because of the writing and narrator have Ryan Reynolds play him.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-10-21

Excellently narrated and well developed storyline

This book was really fantastically narrated with different accents and voices and great sense of feeling for characters. The storyline is very well developed for a true account, which is often not the case for memoirs. I only gave it an overall 4 because of disrespectful blasphemous profanity which was used quite a few times.

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  • Demar
  • 01-09-21

10/10

Great story and the reader did an amazing job
This book left me feeling the anxiety and melancholy the main character experienced, keeping the listeners on their toes, great audiobook!