Den Of Lions


by Terry Anderson
What is it like to exist for seven years in darkness and
chains, not knowing from one day to the next how much
longer you will be a prisoner? Or if you will be released
from captivity the next day-or killed. In his autobiography
"Den of Lions", Terry Anderson attempts to answer some of
these questions. He tells of how his hope got him through
those seven horrible years he was held captive. He tells of
how he was physically imprisoned, beaten, and treated as an
object rather than a human being. 

Terry Anderson was a reporter who was covering the region
of Johannesburg for a very long time. On one of his trips
to Lebanon he saw what he recalled as "incredible
violence." He found it very exhilarating to avoid danger
and bring the news back to the United States. In April of
1983, Anderson became chief Middle East Correspondent. He
moved to Beirut in 1984 and stayed there in spite of the
danger that he was facing. While on a car ride with his
friend Don Mell, he encountered four guards with guns. He
was pulled out of his car and pushed to the floor of his
kidnappers' car. He was unable to see anything because they
had tied a blindfold around his eyes, however he was able
to feel guns being pushed into his neck. Terry Anderson
recalls that after he was kidnapped, he ended up in a
half-finished apartment building in Beirut, Lebanon. The
date was March 16, 1985. The guards that kidnapped him,
taped up his eyes so that it was very difficult for him to
see what was happening to him. As the guards dragged him,
his head bounced off the walls and the floor. After they
arrived at Terry's unknown destination, they dumped him on
a steel cot and chained him up so tight that he was not
even able to sit up. He was blindfolded and told if the
blindfold comes off he would be killed. As he helplessly
lay there, he is told about the rules of his new and
terrible existence. He is not allowed to talk or move. He
was not even allowed to move from side to side to help
relieve the pain from his aching muscles. 

Anderson kept track of the days by scratching a line next
to his head on the wall. After approximately twenty-four
days, he asked the guard for a bible. The guard was
agreeable enough to give him an old bible. He was given
thirty minutes to read each night. However, he was still
required to wear his blindfold, so the bible really was no
help. It was approximately April 9, 1985, when they moved
him to another cot with a curtain around it. This time he
was allowed to take his blindfold off when the curtains
were shut, so he would be able to read. He was told
however, that if he saw one of the guards he would be shot.
He remembered the days, and how they fell into a kind of
routine: Sleepless nights, watching the dawn light grow
slowly on the ceiling, shifting and turning, and trying to
ease the stiffness and pain from lying on the bed for
twenty-four hours a day. The most fun he had for these days
was watching the roaches trying to climb the wall and
falling off when they reached the top. 
The guards also liked to amuse themselves. One guard named
Sayeed told him, "You go home now!" and unfastens the
chains. When Anderson attempted to sit up he was pushed
back down and rechained. Then the guard laughed for about
fifteen minutes and went to sleep. Sometime in July of 1985
Anderson was moved to another room. In this room, there was
another prisoner and they were permitted to talk quietly.
They started asking each other questions and Anderson
learned that the man's name was Jacobsen. While in the new
room, the two prisoners were given time to exercise and
wash themselves. The guards were also allowed to give them
books and magazines to read and help pass away the long
hours. Throughout the next week, the prisoners heard much
banging and loud claps. By asking the guards, Anderson
learned that there would be a new prisoner in the next room
named Father Jenco. The guard told them that he was some
kind of religion teacher. Anderson understood what the
guard meant and corrected him by telling him that Father
Jenco was a Catholic Priest. Sometime in September of the
year 1985 Anderson was allowed to have a pen and paper. He
was now able to keep a diary, which he put in the form of a
letter to his wife Madeleine. Every day he would write a
few paragraphs. He knew he would not be able to mail the
letter however, he wanted to keep track of the things that
had happened to him over the past few months.
On October 29, 1985, the guards brought in a small black
and white television showing Anderson's family and
children. They also mentioned how long he had been in
captivity, so far, two hundred and twenty-seven days. The
prisoners stayed in that same place for the next nine
months. Sometime during the end of July they were moved to
another building in Beirut. This room however contained
three more prisoners. There was hardly enough room to sleep
and the ceiling was only six feet high. All that the
prisoners were able to do was lie on their mattresses for
hours on end and talk quietly. Next October the guards
brought Anderson a birthday cake, and wished him a happy
birthday. They gave him some fruit and a rather large slice
of cake. They divided up the cake and served the rest to
the other prisoners. That whole entire day they video-taped
the prisoners eating and enjoying their cake. Anderson had
now been a prisoner for five hundred and ninety-two days. 
Sometime in March of 1987, Anderson and the rest of the
prisoners were shipped to southern Lebanon. They were
wrapped tightly in plastic so that the only part of their
body that was showing was their noses so that they could
breathe. They were thrown into another wooden box and then
thrown into the back of a van. They traveled for several
hours in this condition before they reached their
The same routines continue until April of 1990. The
negotiations which the United States had been carrying on
with Anderson's kidnappers, finally got recognition.
Conditions inside the cells got better and the prisoners
were being treated more humanely. 
The prisoners later found out that President Bush had been 
trying to help the Iranians find some of their people who
were kidnapped years earlier, in hopes that the American
prisoners would be released.
By August of 1990 conditions improved even more, and they
received more fresh vegetables and meats, more water to
drink, and more freedom in what they were and were not
allowed to do. It was now March 16, 1991. Anderson was
allowed to hear news reports and he learned that the
negotiations were almost over and he most likely would be
released soon. Some of the other prisoners with whom had
stayed were talking on the radio and mentioned Anderson's
name and told him that if he was listening "Good Luck!"
This was very heartwarming for Anderson. He couldn't help
but get into higher spirits. He knew that he was going home.
The date was now December 4, 1991. Anderson had been a
prisoner for two thousand four hundred and fifty four days.
Two subchiefs came in and told Anderson the most beautiful
words that could have been spoken to him at the time. "You
are going home tonight!" They gave him new clothes, shoes
and then left. After a few more hours Anderson was put into
a car. This time he sat in the back seat. After traveling a
few hours the car finally stopped. Someone opened the door,
put his hand on Anderson's shoulder and said, "I'm a Syrian
colonel. You're free."
Overall, I found this book to be very compelling. I found
it to be very interesting to learn about how Terry Anderson
coped and got through this tragic experience. The way
Anderson gave a description of what happened to him in
chronological order gave me a feeling that I was there too.
Anderson made it very easy to understand the ways that they
were being treated; the good and the bad. Everything was in
great detail. The way Anderson wrote the book made me want
to keep reading it to find out what would happen to him
next and, what finally happened. However there also were
some bad points. Until I totally understood the way the
book worked I was confused. Anderson wrote the book with
his spouse Madeleine. She wrote every other chapter and
gave her view on what happened. It took me a couple of
chapters to understand the way this worked. 
Generally I thought this book was great. I would recommend
it to anyone who is interested in the ways prisoners are
treated in the middle eastern countries. It was very clear
how Anderson felt and he basically wrote everything that
happened to him. I learned a lot from this book. It taught
me how to appreciate the little things in life that most
people take for granted. Anderson went through a long
period of time where he was not even able to see. I know
for a fact that if I would be constantly blindfolded, I
would go nuts. Even after reading all of this, very few
people could understand what it was like to go through the
horror that Terry Anderson experienced. I also learned
about how religion and a strong inner belief can help
people. Before the kidnapping, Anderson really was not a
religious man. He never went to church and never prayed.
However after the kidnapping, he turned to religion. He
prayed every day for God to help him get through this
experience. He made his own rosary beads and he memorized
passages out of the bible. Anderson stated that religion
got him through those seven long horrible years. I also
learned about the religion of the people in Beirut. Most of
the guards were Shiites, so religion was a big part of
their lives also. The only way that Anderson was able to
make the guards feel compassion for him was to ask them if
God tells them that they are allowed to harm another human
being. The guard can never answer the question and usually
apologizes for the way they were treating him. Another
thing that I learned was how countries negotiate with each
other. The United States did every thing that they could
possibly do to help free Anderson. However the only way to
free Anderson was to help free Iranians that were kidnapped
by other countries.
This was a very educational book and taught me many social,
political, and religious concepts. I plan to read other
autobiographies by prisoners who were imprisoned with Terry
Anderson to see how they coped with their tragedies. This
book has taught me one overall lesson, never let the little
things in life that go wrong bother you; life is too


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