Under Their Claws: A Testimony of My Kidnapping
by Myriam Norton
Trafford Publishing

"My memoir includes, in detail, the sub-human living conditions we captives had to endure and the way such deprivation affected us."

In April 2003, Myriam Norton, a sixty-two-year-old middle-class Colombian grandmother, was kidnapped in broad daylight on her farm two hours from Bogotá by FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerillas, most mere children. This memoir details her five-month incarceration at the hands of poor, illiterate teenagers in one of the 180 retention camps holding thousands of captives high in the cold, wet, and unforgiving Andes.

Details of physical hardship abound, but the story is remarkable because of its first-person look at the "business" of kidnapping, her unwavering faith in rescue, and the historical context it provides on terrorism in Colombia, the kidnapping capital of the world. Input by a retired Colombian army general lends authority to the business details of FARC's operation, whose main objective is to "pervert the minds and harden the hearts of young Colombian peasants through a form of political indoctrination." FARC views humans as "merchandise" to fund terrorism and drug deals. Since Colombian law prevents families from paying ransom to guerillas, special volunteer Comités must meet and bargain in secret, a long and harrowing affair.

The author excels at weaving Columbia’s history and natural beauty into her tale of cruel and humiliating captivity and precarious rescue, and shines at expressing the sustaining bond between her and her fellow prisoners. Poignant final chapters convey her psychological healing and newfound gratitude for the preciousness of life. Compassion, courage, and kindness illuminate this inspiring and educational tale of abduction by FARC, Columbia's leading terrorist faction, and rescue by family.

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