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Minnesota native imprisoned in Iran releases memoirs with fellow captives


Nearly five years after three American hitchhikers – one of them a Minnesota native – were taken prisoner in Iran, the trio is telling their harrowing tale in a new book, MinnPost reports.

Shane Bauer (pictured, right), who grew up in the Mille Lacs area before moving to California at age 18, was on vacation and hiking in the hills over Iraqi Kurdistan in 2009 with his girlfriend, Sarah Shourd (center), and their friend, Joshua Fattal (left), when they were captured by an armed soldier and imprisoned as spies.

As it turns out, the three unknowingly crossed the border into Iran. Shourd was imprisoned for more than a year and Bauer and Fattal spent more than two years behind bars before being released in September 2011.

Earlier this month the trio released "A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran." Bauer tells MinnPost he actually read quite a few prison memoirs to help cope with being imprisoned himself.

"People sent them to us and it was very helpful, to see how other people had survived similar experiences. Nelson Mandela’s 'Long Walk to Freedom,' was particularly important to me," Bauer says. "But when it came time to write ours, I intentionally avoided other people’s memoirs. I wanted to keep my account raw and as close to my own experience as possible."

MinnPost says the book is told chronologically in rotating points of view by all three. Bauer says the trio first sat down and decided who would write what, and then each wrote their memories down alone.

Bauer and Shourd are now married, and together with Fattal, the University of California-Berkley graduates are returning to their alma mater Thursday night to discuss the book and their experiences, the East Bay Express reports.

A journalist at the time of his capture, Bauer continues to work as an investigative reporter.

The book has received positive reviews since its release. The Seattle Times says each person "has a say" in the book "and they all say it very well," while Entertainment Weekly says the book shouldn't be harrowing because we already know the outcome – but it is anyway.

"The gripping narrative gets its traction from both the level of detail and the lucid delivery of all three authors. Josh is the most descriptive; Shane, the most introspective," EW says.

EW cited one of Bauer's passages, where he writes, ''The immediate prospect of death seems so different than I had imagined it. We won't run. We won't utter fabulous words of defiance. We will be like mice, paralyzed by fear.''

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