Book Review: ‘The Forever Prisoner’ by Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy

Dark truth concealed in between the walls of the prison


Book Title: The Forever Prisoner
Author: Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy
Publisher: HarperCollins India
Number of Pages: 464
ISBN: 978-9356296350
Date Published: Mar. 25, 2023
Price: INR 389

The Forever Prisoner Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy Book Cover

Book Review

Authors Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy have written critically acclaimed books like “The Exile,” “Deception,” and “The Stone of Heaven.” They have written another book focusing on the relationship between Abu Zubaydah, the first prisoner to undergo enhanced interrogation, and Jim Mitchell, the CIA program’s creator, and Zubaydah’s primary interrogator.

The Forever Prisoner” by Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy is an engaging and detailed book that dives into the dark secrets of the CIA’s covert program as well as the heartbreaking story of Abu Zubaydah, a prisoner at Guantánamo Bay. This nonfiction work, classified as investigative journalism, throws light on the contentious practices of torture and indefinite imprisonment that have molded our sense of justice and human rights.

The authors provide a vivid and brutally detailed picture of the atrocities faced by the inmates, including waterboarding and other types of torture, based on their thorough research and a link made through a “circuitous route” with Abu Zubaydah. Because of the sheer extent of the suffering recounted, the tale becomes numbing at points, emphasizing the urgent need for more substantial control of intelligence agencies and justice for those wrongfully imprisoned.

The book “The Forever Prisoner” is a masterful mixing of the stories of the hostage and the interrogator highlights the fundamental lack of understanding between them. The writers reveal insights into the brains of the interrogators, such as Jim Mitchell, who possessed a psychology Ph.D. and was authorized by George W. Bush personally. Examining the persons engaged in the torture adds another complication to the story.

Furthermore, the book traces the genesis of the United States’ official torture program, from the CIA to the army. The writers thoroughly research their sources, producing a captivating and authoritative story that outperforms earlier publications. Its compelling and revelatory tale exceeds Jane Mayer’s seminal book, “The Dark Side.”

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The Forever Prisoner” provides Abu Zubaydah with a voice, allowing readers to experience the agony and despair of being a perpetual prisoner. This component of the book strikes out as the most compelling and innovative, offering a viewpoint frequently overlooked in public dialogue. The writers successfully express the substance of his experience and emphasize the need to deal with the issue of torture and indefinite confinement. While the book’s attention to detail is admirable, it has earned some criticism for being too engrossed in the facts rather than conquering them. This, however, has no substantial influence on its total impact.

Finally, “The Forever Prisoner” is a robust and intriguing piece that commands attention. The authoritative and thorough writing style of Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy thoroughly examines the contentious covert programme of the CIA and the traumatic odyssey of Abu Zubaydah. This book has significantly impacted public discourse, which has sparked discussions on the need for justice and accountability in the face of torture and indefinite detention.

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