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The Dawn Prayer (or How to Survive in a Secret Syrian Terrorist Prison)

Narrated by: Michael David Axtell
Length: 9 hrs and 47 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (60 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A photographer captured in Syria and imprisoned for seven months recounts his story and how he became the first American ever to escape al-Qaeda.

"What is your name?" asked General Mohammad.

"Matthew," I said. I had stopped saying Matt a while ago because it means "dead" in Arabic.

On New Year's Eve in 2012, Matthew Schrier was headed home from Syria, where he'd been photographing the intense combat of the country's civil war. Just 45 minutes from the safety of the Turkish border, he was taken prisoner by the al-Nusra Front, an organization the world would come to know as the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda.

Over the next seven months he would endure torture and near starvation in six brutal terrorist prisons. He would face a daily struggle just to survive. And, eventually, he would escape. In this gripping, raw, and surprisingly funny memoir, Schrier details the horrifying and frequently surreal experience of being a slight, wisecracking Jewish guy held captive by the world's most violent Islamic extremists. Managing to keep his heritage a secret, Schrier used humor to develop relationships with his captors - and to keep himself sane during the long months of captivity.

The Dawn Prayer (or How to Survive in a Secret Syrian Terrorist Prison) is a tale of patriotism and unimaginable bleakness shot through with light, of despair and friendship, sacrifice and betrayal, in a setting of bombed-out buildings and shifting alliances. It's the story of the first Westerner to escape al-Qaeda - not a battle-hardened soldier, but an ordinary New Yorker who figured out how to set his escape plan in motion from a scene in Jurassic Park. From the prisoners' fiercely competitive hacky-sack games and volleyball tournaments (played using a ball made of shredded orange peels and a shoelace) to his own truly nail-biting breakout, Matthew Schrier's story is unforgettable - and one you won't want to miss.

©2018 Matthew Schrier (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Inspiring and Moving

This man is an American hero. I will treasure the lessons this book has forever, he's such an inspiration. Using humor to get through dark times and coming out on the other side more badass than ever

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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My favorite book

I enjoy audio books and I listen to them weekly. This one stands out as one of my, if not my, all time favorite. Not only was the authors words so personably presented, but the readers voice made it feel like you were there. What a story!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great Read

He spoke at my graduation from SERE. The guy is the real deal and he is hilarious so I made it a point to read his book. Loved it. A modern story of perseverance and grit. It’s written in a way that mirrors his “New Yorker” humor and swagger which is quite a humorous contrast with the jihadis’.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wow! What a story!

Everything about this audio book was first rate. Full of detailed colorful descriptions of his time in prison. It's easy to tell that Matthew's ability to see humor in the most tragic and horrific events was probably the most important thing in his arsenal of survival tools. The narrator delivered a performance that really enhanced the story with a tone that allowed one to listen as if it was a story being told by the author in his own voice. You will not be able to stop listening to this book once you get started!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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what a fantastical story

this book is so amazing! sad, scary, hilarious...all in one. there are times I cannot believe its true!

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Lots of Vulgarity. Matthew is cocky

The pros of the audio book is the narration and the actual story. However, I feel Matthew is quite haughty and his constant vulgarity was unneeded. Lots of f-bombs dropping constantly and other vulgar expressions are dropped in at nauseum. It was distracting and it wrecked the story for me. That, and the tooting of his own horn, made me think higher of his nemesis, Theo... His anger at Theo didn't seem to match how he described him to be. Give him a break Matthew!
I may have to read up on his side if the story.

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Crazy Phenomenal!

Loved it! One of the best, most honest books I have ever listened to! Schreir’s humor, intelligence, street smarts, and attitude truly sets him apart from most and at times I almost forgot that this is a real guy and not a made up character. This book is one of a kind-I could not recommend it more!

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not so great

Not so great, despite the fascinating and tragic experiences of the author, who invests a great deal of time discussing how terrible his cellmate was. I can't recommend this book.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful