hile I haven’t seen the movie, I’m very glad to have read A Mighty Heart.
Mariane Pearl holds nothing back as she explains how corruption, deception, centuries-old distrust, and discrimination—boiled down to the hatred at its core—led to the 2002 kidnapping and brutal murder of her husband, Wall Street Journal
South Asia bureau chief Daniel Pearl.
Mariane Pearl also goes beyond the immediate events of her husband’s abduction and murder as she recalls her brief marriage; Daniel’s refusal to deny his Jewish heritage despite the danger inherent in claiming that heritage; their shared joy as they anticipated the birth of their first child, a son whom Daniel had named Adam; and their plans to escape for a well-earned vacation after “one last interview” in Karachi, Pakistan. But her reporting reveals even more about the complex histories of contemporary terrorist organizations, the tensions that remain between Pakistan and India and what continues to fuel them, the political figures who allow such forces to overrule common decency and international rules of humane behavior on a daily basis. All this information comes together in a complex analysis of the events that led to Daniel’s kidnapping and death. They also shed considerable light on what happened while he was held hostage: how close he came to being released: how he tried to escape, how he was denied even a pen to write a last note to his wife and unborn child, how so many people from extreme ends of the earth hoped and prayed and worked for his safe return.
And while Daniel surely possessed a mighty heart, I was led to believe throughout this book that Mariane Pearl has always believed others do, too. At the book’s end she acknowledges the thousands of well wishers from around the world who reached out to her with messages of hope, sympathy, and still more hope. I was most impressed by her descriptions of the friends and associates who came together first to help her find her husband and then to help her cope during the immediate aftermath of her ordeal. The group made an unlikely team in the Karachi house in which they worked so tirelessly for so long. Differences in nationalities, religious beliefs, military or civil backgrounds, education, and ideologies somehow combined to form a close-knit circle of support as well as an investigative team fueled by desire not only to save the life of a fellow human being, but to defeat the forces working against them. As Mariane Pearl told her friends in the end:
“You are the bravest men I have ever met. You went straight to hell, where darkness is the deepest, because you hate injustice, and racism, and tyranny. You are on the front lines of the fight against terrorism, and still, nobody knows you and how brave you are. Nobody sees how your willingness to fight the darkest threat for humanity actually makes each one of you shine as an individual.”
Mariane Pearl continues to shine in her fight to raise awareness about critical international issues. She stated many times during her husband’s captivity and many more times since that she refuses to be silenced by fear, to allow terrorists to win. By continuing to speak out about the person her husband was and what he stood for, she also gives Daniel a powerful tool against the people who killed him:
“War held no appeal for Danny or for me,” she wrote. “What interested us was the challenge presented by peace. People often see peace as the simple absence of war but it is instead the result of courageous actions taken to initiate a dialogue between civilizations. Both Danny and I saw our profession as a way to contribute to the dialogue, to allow voices on all sides to be heard, and to bear witness.”
If only we all had such mighty hearts.