Cover image for Forty days
Forty days
Publication Information:
New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, c1992.
Physical Description:
318 p.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 953.6 SIM 1 1

On Order

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

CBS correspondent Bob Simon--who, with his three-man crew, was captured by Iraqi soldiers on Jan. 21, 1991--here describes his subsequent imprisonment as a kaleidoscopic nightmare of beatings, interrogations, uncertainty and fear. He explores his reactions with thoroughness and sincerity. The impact of his account, however, is diminished by the brevity of his ordeal--less than six weeks. But it should be noted that Simon is a journalist, not a combat soldier for whom brutal captivity is an expected risk. Nor is he responsible for his profession's decision to make him a hero since he didn't die for facing the consequences of chasing a scoop. Nevertheless, a certain sense of proportion, perhaps even a touch of irony, would have done much to leaven the pervasive self-absorption of this memoir. First serial to Newsweek. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

An affecting first-person account of the ordeal endured by one of the most celebrated casualties of the Persian Gulf War. Five days after Desert Shield became Desert Storm, Simon (CBS- TV's chief Mideast correspondent) and his three-man crew were taken captive by an Iraqi patrol on the wrong side of the unmarked Saudi Arabia/Kuwait border, where they had driven in search of news not screened by military censors. The author's ill-advised enterprise earned him and his associates a hellish 40-day hegira that took them from field detention to a couple of stygian lockups in Baghdad, one of which was bombed by the allied coalition. Constantly blindfolded, beaten, and branded a spy, Simon lived in fear that Saddam's interrogators would discover he was a Bronx-born Jew based in Tel Aviv, not a Protestant working out of N.Y.C. as his press credentials stated. To keep his sanity as a no-name prisoner in solitary confinement, Simon reflected on past assignments (which had taken him to Lebanon, the Philippines, Vietnam, and other strife-torn venues), friends, family, colleagues, and food, albeit not necessarily in that order. Though he considered suicide only once, early in his Kafkaesque trial, the author was ever drawn to dwell on death. Once released, Simon appreciated the irony of a journalist's being the subject of a major media story and of his own obituary (providently prepared by CBS and narrated by Dan Rather). Recalled with less relish, though, are the deep emotional wounds and nagging physical debilities he suffered while in Iraqi hands. The involving testament of a man who's been to the brink and learned that the abyss does indeed stare back.

Booklist Review

Simon is a widely familiar face on television as CBS's chief Middle Eastern correspondent. His newsworthiness was heightened when, on January 21, 1991, five days into the Persian Gulf war, Simon and his news team were captured by an Iraqi patrol and taken prisoner. Incarceration lasted--as the title indicates--40 days; his recounting of that period is a sobering document. He and the others were beaten; their health deteriorated dangerously. He relates in effective prose and remarkable control the details of their torture and how they coped. The exterior circumstances and interior dimension of such imprisonment is shared so eloquently that readers of all ages and interest levels will be riveted to his book. (Reviewed Apr. 1, 1992)0399137602Brad Hooper

Library Journal Review

This is a remarkably intimate book; not intimate in any erotic sense, nor in a showy self-serving way. But as intimate as a look into one's soul. CBS newsman Simon was taken prisoner by the Iraqis early in the Desert Storm war, experiencing long interrogations (Simon and his three-man TV crew were believed to be spies) and innumerable sadistic beatings. Yet what comes through here with chilling impact is Simon's intimate portrayal of how quickly the human spirit begins to erode when the simple trappings of dignity are removed: basic cleanliness, toilet privileges, nourishing food, intelligent conversation. His ability as a writer takes the reader inside his mind to witness the mental games he had to play to protect his sanity. Forty Days is highly recommended for all libraries.--Chet Hagan, Berks Cty. P.L. System, Pa. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.