Guantánamo Diary Book Summary - Guantánamo Diary Book explained in key points
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Guantánamo Diary summary

Mohamedou Ould Slahi, edited by Larry Siems

Guantanamo from the Inside

4.5 (11 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Guantánamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, edited by Larry Siems is a memoir of Slahi's detention at Guantánamo Bay. It sheds light on the brutality of the US government's detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists.

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    Guantánamo Diary
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    Key idea 1 of 8

    The author, a Mauritanian citizen, has been held without charge in Guantánamo since 2002.

    You’ve probably heard of Guantánamo Bay, but how much do you know about the actual experiences of the prisoners detained there? One long-term prisoner is Mohamedou Ould Slahi, or MOS for short, and this is the story of how he found himself in one of the world’s most infamous detention centers.

    The author was born in 1970 in Mauritania, a country in northwestern Africa. He was the ninth of 12 children born to a traveling camel trader, who passed away shortly after the family moved to the capital of Nouakchott. As a result, the author was his family’s main provider from a young age.

    In 1988, he received a scholarship to the University of Duisburg in Germany, and traveled there to study electrical engineering. In 1991, he became involved with the anti-communist movement in Afghanistan and took an oath of loyalty to al-Qaeda, an organization that at the time was supported by Western nations, and the US in particular.

    But things changed when the communist government collapsed and the Afghan mujahideen began to wage war against one another. At this point, the author returned to Germany and, according to his account, cut all ties with al-Qaeda.

    He then completed his degree, remaining in Duisburg with his wife. But since his German visa was set to expire shortly thereafter, he applied, successfully, for a Canadian visa, relocating to Montreal in November 1999. While in Canada, he attended a Mosque previously frequented by an Algerian immigrant and al-Qaeda member by the name of Ahmed Ressam.

    What’s so important about Ressam?

    Ressam was arrested on December 14, 1999, by the US Border Patrol for refusing inspection and giving false information. However, his arrest uncovered something greater: his plan, known as the Millennium Plot, to bomb Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

    After discovering Ressam’s plan, the police questioned the Montreal immigrant community about it – and the author in particular.

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    What is Guantánamo Diary about?

    Guantánamo Diary (2015) is the edited testimony of a detainee at the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba. These blinks will walk the reader through the story of one man’s interrogation, incarceration and torture at the hands of the US government.

    Guantánamo Diary Review

    Guantánamo Diary (2015) is a powerful account of Mohamedou Ould Slahi's harrowing experience as a detainee in Guantánamo Bay. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its unflinching honesty and firsthand perspective, it provides a unique insight into the realities of life in Guantánamo Bay.
    • While highlighting the injustice of Slahi's imprisonment, it also raises important questions about human rights and the erosion of civil liberties.
    • By chronicling Slahi's resilience and unwavering spirit, the book serves as a testament to the power of hope in even the darkest of circumstances.

    Best quote from Guantánamo Diary

    So why was I so scared? Because crime is something relative; its something the government defines and re-defines whenever it pleases.

    —Mohamedou Ould Slahi, edited by Larry Siems
    example alt text

    Who should read Guantánamo Diary?

    • People who want an inside look at the notorious US prison on Guantánamo Bay
    • Anyone hoping to learn more about the treatment of American political prisoners
    • Anyone interested in the testimonies and struggles of individuals detained by US authorities

    About the Author

    Mohamedou Ould Slahi is a Mauritanian citizen and, since 2002, a prisoner in the American-run Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

    Larry Siems, the editor of Slahi’s manuscript, is a writer, human rights activist and the author of several books, including The Torture Report: What Documents Say About America’s Post-9/11 Torture Program.

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    Guantánamo Diary FAQs 

    What is the main message of Guantánamo Diary?

    The main message of Guantánamo Diary is a firsthand account of the author's experience in Guantanamo Bay.

    How long does it take to read Guantánamo Diary?

    The reading time for Guantánamo Diary varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Guantánamo Diary a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Guantánamo Diary is a compelling and important book that offers unique insights into the realities of detention at Guantanamo Bay.

    Who is the author of Guantánamo Diary?

    The author of Guantánamo Diary is Mohamedou Ould Slahi, with the editor being Larry Siems.

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