Book Review: ‘Lost to the World’ by Shahbaz Taseer

Absorbing, engaging and eye-opening


Book Title: Lost to the World: A Memoir of Faith, Family, and Five Years in Terrorist Captivity
Author: Shahbaz Taseer
Publisher: Penguin
Number of Pages: 296
ISBN: 978-0670099498
Date Published: May 22, 2023
Price: INR 406

Lost to the World by Shahbaz Taseer Book Cover

Book Review

Shahbaz Taseer’s fantastic story “Lost to the World” transports readers through the depths of imprisonment and the undying force of hope. Taseer’s horror started when he was abducted in broad daylight six months after his father, Salman Taseer, was killed for criticizing Pakistan’s blasphemy legislation. Taseer used to be one of the most fortunate and well-protected people in the nation, but now he lived in poverty, was confined to a small room, and had nothing but a bucket for waste.

More astounding than the novel itself is this genuine story. Taseer was imprisoned for over five years, subjected to unrelenting torture and inhumane treatment, and forced further into the treacherous Hindu Kush region. His destiny was inextricably linked to the demands of his kidnappers and the intricate ties between the Taliban and ISIS. In “Lost to the World,” Taseer describes in graphic detail his battle to stay mentally stable while recording each day’s passage on the mud wall of his cell.

Taseer’s story of his experiences living among his captors, surviving a drone attack, escaping from Pakistan to Afghanistan, and ending up in a Taliban jail where he negotiated his release takes readers on a compelling trip. Despite his unfathomable difficulties, Taseer conveys his experience with clarity, passion, and a lack of resentment. “Lost to the World” is a story of extraordinary faith, bravery, and sadness, interspersed with tenderness and humor that provide a ray of hope throughout the most challenging years of his imprisonment.

Taseer’s frank portrayal of his terrible and agonizing days in captivity is a crucial aspect of the book. While news stories provide glimpses of such events, reading them as everyday occurrences is a challenging and emotional experience. Taseer also dives into the inner workings of the terrorist organization, revealing its thinking and actions. Moments of empathy and human connection arise among the savagery, reminding Taseer of his tenacity and lighting a glimmer of hope.

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Beyond the human story, “Lost to the World” addresses more significant social themes. Taseer’s narrative is a sobering reminder of the challenges those who fight for tolerance and justice confront in cultures steeped in extreme ideology encounter. It reveals the savagery of terrorist organizations and the vulnerability of individuals who dare to oppose their repressive ideologies. Taseer’s investigation of empathy is particularly impressive, exhibiting compassion and understanding even towards the cruelest and most misinformed persons. Throughout the book, these moments of empathy leave readers disturbed and devastated, emphasizing the transformational power of compassion in the face of terrible misfortune.

The deeply moving memoir “Lost to the World” enthralls readers from start to finish. The inspirational tale of Shahbaz Taseer demonstrates the resiliency of the human spirit and the value of empathy in today’s society. The lasting influence of optimism and compassion in the face of evil will be recalled by this book long after readers have turned the last page.

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