* Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin *
The Seventh Circle - A former Australian soldier's extraordinary story of surviving seven years in Afghanistan's most notorious prison by Rob Langdon is a tough read. Here's the intro:
'I was arrested on Thursday 9th July 2009. On Wednesday I'd quit my job, killed a man and set his body on fire. I was sentenced to death. I'm not a good man, but I am an honest one. This is my story.'
It was hard to read about Rob Langdon's incarceration, and while his resilience is an inspiration, he was fucked over in so many ways that this reader was more often than not furious while reading it. Working as a security contractor in Afghanistan, his former employer deserted him and the number of people who took advantage of the situation - or stole his stuff, thinking he was as good as dead - was exasperating. What scum! Originally sentenced to death and then to a term of 20 years, Rob experiences the full gamut of emotions, but there were a few rays of light in those who stuck by him, helped him stay sane and eventually secured his freedom.
The following quote from Page 16 encapsulates his seven year ordeal better than I can:
"The prison was a hell on earth, as I will attempt to show in these pages, but I'm afraid my words will never be up to the task of conveying the filth, the danger, the uncertainty, the noise, the stench, the hopelessness, the barbarity, the cheapness of life, the random violence, the anguish, and the sheer fucking boredom that I had to wade through day after day, more than two thousand days and nights, in what should have been my prime."
I'm not sure this is a book I would recommend to another reader. It's the kind of memoir you discover on your own given the content and it's definitely a personal reading choice. You'll need a strong stomach for a start and it may suit readers with an interest in the military and the conflict in Afghanistan.
It's always hard to give a rating to this kind of memoir. It's about human endurance and survival, but also about the politics of Afghanistan which many readers will find shocking and abhorrent. Having said that, I'm glad I read The Seventh Circle by Rob Langdon and admire the resilience of this Australian.
My rating = ***
P.S. You can read a FREE extract here.