The devil’s finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist. ~ Daniel Levin, Proof of Life
Daniel Levin, a board member of the Liechtenstein Foundation for State Governance, was at his office one day when he got a call from an acquaintance with an urgent, cryptic request to meet in Paris. A young man who had set out for Aleppo, Syria to assist a group of volunteer doctors had gone missing and no government, embassy, or intelligence agency would help. So begins the story of one man’s search to find a missing person in Syria over eighteen tense days. Levin, a lawyer turned armed conflict negotiator, uses his extensive Middle Eastern contacts to chase one lead to the next in an underground world of drug and human trafficking. The book includes details about other cases of kidnapped Westerners in the Middle East and portrayals of power brokers, smugglers, and funders of terrorism.
Proof of Life was fascinating. I read online reviews, some of which claimed Levin’s book was fictional rather than autobiographical, but I disagree. His account was very believable, as were the video interviews he did. He was very knowledgeable, articulate, and intelligent. His bravery was impressive, not only because of his dealings with unsavory characters in Middle Eastern war zones, but also because he is Jewish, a people group loathed by many Arabs.
Unfortunately, I just didn’t like the writing style. The lengthy footnotes were distracting and sent me down many bunny trails. Because of that, Proof of Life read like a textbook. It also needed developmental editing, as too many phrases were repeated, and it was too heavy on simile and metaphor. Although I wasn’t a fan of the writing, I learned a great deal about recent Middle Eastern history and the current situation in several countries. The author worked hard to share his impressive knowledge of the area. Be sure to read this book when you are alert and prepared to do some research as you move through it.
Published Date: May 2021
Read-alikes: Brothers of the Gun by Marwan Hisham, The Shattered Lens by Jonathan Alpeyrie, Rescued from ISIS by Dimitri Bontinck