A Hostage Situation

Books, The Book Thief, The Mermaid and the Drunks, Junk, The Shadow of the Wind, Melvin Burgess, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Marcus Zusak, The Day of the Triffids, The Hobbit, J.R.R Tolkien, Helen Dunmore, The Siege, Charlotte's Web, E.B White, The Diary of Anne Frank, Enid Blyton, The Magic Faraway Tree, Adriana Trigiani, Lucia Lucia, Perfume, Patrick Suskind, The Silver Sword, Counting the StarsI was listening to the BBC History Hour podcast the other day (highly recommended), and one particular story caught my imagination…

In 1975, the AIA Building in Kuala Lumpur was stormed by members of the Japanese Red Army, who took 53 hostages, and demanded the release of several prisoners in return for freeing them. After negotiations, the Malaysian government agreed to the terms, including arranging for a flight to Libya for the terrorists.

As fascinating a story this is, this is not the bit I was interested in. Two government officials – deputy transport minister, Dato’Ramli Omar, and secretary-general for the Home Ministry, Tan Sri Osman Samsuddin Cassim – were also put on the plane with the terrorists as hostages to guarantee safe conduct.

Samsuddin Cassim, a husband and father, was not overly pleased to be in the situation but felt it was his duty to oblige. To pass the time (which he described as a “peaceful journey“) he had conveniently brought along the book he was reading… The Day of the Jackal.

Samsuddin Cassim and Dato’Ramli Omar were both released after 6 months unharmed, but it was this particular part of the story that absolutely tickled me! Two immediate thoughts occurred:

1. The Day of the Jackal is a particularly suitable tale for the situation


2. Who thinks to pack a book for a hostage situation!?

So this made me wonder: what book would you pack if you happened to be taken hostage?

Personally I think this would be a great time to have a go at finally reading War and Peace (I mean, you could be there for a while) but I think I’ll lump for some cheery Scott Lynch adventures (the third of the Gentleman Bastards series is coming soon!)

What’s your ideal tale to take when taken hostage?

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