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Best of Slow Journalism: 977 days of captivity

Photo: AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

It’s January 2012. American-German journalist Michael Scott Moore is on his way back to his hotel in Somalia, having waved off a colleague at the airport, when a truck begins following his car. A group of men jump out, firing their Kalashnikovs into the air. They pull Moore from his car. They hit him, break his glasses. As he’s dragged towards another car, Moore realises what’s happening. “I felt a reflexive horror for my family and the burden I was about to become,” he recalls.

This is how Moore was kidnapped while researching a book on piracy in Somalia. In his article ‘My 977 days held hostage by Somali pirates’, published in the Guardian, Moore talks us through how he coped with more than two and half years in captivity. He gives details of his first angry conversations with his captors. He also describes his gradual realisation that the pirates were  winging it: “They had no clear plan to extract a ransom or hand me back. They just made outrageous demands,” Moore writes. To make matters worse, Moore faces his entire captivity in a “fuzzy state of near-blindness” because he no longer had his glasses.

Slowly, Moore adapts to life as a hostage, which ends suddenly on the morning of 23rd September 2014, when he is freed. His first-person account of his captivity, published in early June, is calm, measured and thoroughly engaging. You can read the piece here, or listen to an audio version here.

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