Books That Made a Difference to
By Brian Keenan
This book had a profound effect on me when I first read it in the early 1990s. It's the true story of two men forced together from opposite sides of a conflict: John McCarthy is from England; Brian Keenan is Irish and lived in Belfast through the Troubles. Both find themselves in Beirut and are kidnapped, crammed into a car, taken to a building, and locked up for over four years. It's the most harrowing and gruesome story. But it's also about the two of them coming together despite their mutual differences and how they began to depend on each other. The book includes their relationship with a terrorist—a young, disenfranchised boy who loves the idea of coming into their room in the middle of the night and bashing them over the head with a Kalashnikov. It's an extraordinary journey of survival against all odds. I lived in Ireland for a short period as a young boy, and I'm also a middle-class English guy, so I felt, in some ways, that both men spoke to me.
A last word: Eventually, I met the two of them. I wouldn't call them my heroes, but I respect what they've gone through, and the way that they've come out the other side. I find their story inspirational and unique.