Guantanamo Diary

Mohamedou Ould Slahi
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Since 2002, Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been imprisoned at the detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Although he was ordered to be released by a federal judge, the US government fought that decision, and there is no sign that the United States plans to let him go. This is his personal memoir, that is terrifying, humorous and surprisingly gracious.
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THE SUNDAY TIMES and NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER 'A kind of dark masterpiece' THE NEW YORK TIMES 'There has never been a book quite like this' NEW STATESMAN In 2002, Mohamedou Ould Slahi was imprisoned at the detainee camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In 2016, having never been charged with any crime, he has finally been approved for release. In those fourteen years in captivity he suffered unspeakable abuse - sexual assault, threats to his family and months of sensory deprivation, his captors torturing him with the personal approval of the US Secretary of Defense - and he produced this remarkable document, the only first-hand account of a Guantanamo Detainee. His diary is not merely a vivid record of a miscarriage of justice, but a deeply personal memoir - terrifying, darkly humorous, and surprisingly gracious. It is an extraordinary and moving story of human perseverance stretched to its limits, but never broken.

Customer reviews

How can we pull the teeth of the carnivores?Review by matthew
Reading Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi was not as distressing an experience as actually being there might have been, the authors tact saw to that - but it was still pretty tough to realise that behind, or worse, underpinning our seamless rush into the bright future are the dirty, bone-breaking, cursing, unhappy ones given full powers to maltreat.
And the knowledge that one of the drivers is hard-core Christianity doesn't make it any lighter.
Reading this book so soon after the Paris shootings has corrected my slide into global prejudice about people of the faith of Allah. But equally I have to avoid calling all Americans torturers, world corrupters.
How can we pull the teeth of the carnivores? Do we even want to? A friend of a friend who works for the Security Services (periphery privatised outfit) said "You are innocent, you have no idea what it is like out there. We have to get down and dirty, otherwise they'll be all over us".
Anybody who has ever worked in an organisation recognises new-speak; the regulations, the clothing rules, the morale boosting new-speak, the covert rebellions over petty issues etc etc. Everyone knows about the character who is the butt for office jokes, the one who never quite gets it.
But isn't he, or she, everyman everywoman - the small, nervous, lively animal that is human being? And isn't it true that Mohamedou Ould Slahi`s great achievement to show the small, nervous, alive human being winning out over the machine people the dead people who try to overlay him?
Winning out do I say? But he is still there. What are we doing about it? And what do we do, English fair play people, whose government was surely complicit; Cyprus, Jordan? Do we wait for them to come for us? Do we get ready now for some camp somewhere down the line? Or do we, as the French say, descendre dans la rue, go out and meet them head on. (Posted on 28/01/2015)
AmazingReview by Ben
You'll hear nothing but praise for this book, and I would be surprised (not to mention appalled) if this book didn't become a classic in the future. It's a perfect description from Slahi of the events that wound him up in Guantanamo, and a torturous description of what happened in the "Bay".

The introduction finishes with Larry Siems describing Slahi as a "reliable narrator", and my instant reaction was a shaking head; I thought I'd caught a PR machine at work, trying to sell bad writing to me, but as soon as I read the first page, I knew it was going to be a great book. Slahi somehow manages to keep his head about him, and can judge characters well, deciding whether or not they are kind people, or people that use war as an excuse to become monsters.

The obvious attraction to this book comes in its structure. There are hundreds of redactions in this book, all of which made by the US Government, preventing the reader from abstracting key information from Slahi at all. At one point quite early on, there are at least four pages, all redacted in the typical style of a black highlighter. It's a sad sight to see, especially with regard to the recent reinforcement of the freedom of expression seen with #CharlieHebdo, but it points out some of the critical hypocrisies that the western world is capable of, and carries out relentlessly.

This is, however, sneakily manipulated by Siems. In the first couple of pages, he points out that when Slahi writes about female guards, the US Government haven't just redacted their names, but has also removed their pronouns. "She" and "her" for example are removed constantly, but "he" and "his" are allowed to stay. As many points as that raises, it's through the respectable and brilliant work of Siems that a lot of the redactions are given meaning; it's clear that he went through a lot of work to try to let the reader understand every single black highlight.

The mission of this book: to get the message of Guantánamo to as many people as possible doesn't end here. The introduction mentions that many people (including Slahi) are waiting on the day that this book can be published with no redactions whatsoever, and after reading it: so am I. (Posted on 23/01/2015)

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Product details

Additional Info

ISBN 9781782112846
Format Hardback
Publication date 20 Jan 2015

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