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In her mid-40s, a successful executive just placed in charge of Xerox's Color Solutions Business Unit, Quin had a taste for exotic travel that took her in late 1998 to Yemen with a group of eighteen other Western tourists. She and they had the misfortune to have their Land Cruisers driven directly into a war between the government and an Islamist outfit called the Aden Abyan Islamic Army (AAIA). The entire tourist group was taken hostage on December 28 and held for more than a day before Yemeni military forces attacked the AAIA, leading to the deaths of four tourists, two terrorists, and one soldier. Quin herself had a close brush with death, but the terrorist holding the gun in her back was hit before he could do damage to her; in an act of daring-do, she managed to pull from his still-live hands his AK-47, an act which left her a changed person. (The mild-mannered, liberal feminist admits that as she exultantly fought for the gun, she had a revelation: "So this is why men like war.")

The story of the capture takes up but the first quarter of Kidnapped in Yemen; the remainder consists of Quin's personal account, mixed with her sleuthing to figure out what had happened to her and her companions. Through assiduous press research plus personal investigations that took her to London's Finsbury Park mosque (to meet the notorious Abu Hamza) as well as a journey back to Yemen and the scene of the crime, she comes up with a coherent account of the tensions that culminated in her seizure. In addition to making available the story of an important terrorist incident, once which foreshadowed the current problem of Western Muslims traveling to Iraq to engage in violence, Quin provides a fine account of her own growth, indeed transformation, as a result of her brief but searing experience as a hostage.