Sulome Anderson is a journalist based between New York City and Beirut, Lebanon. Her debut book, The Hostage’s Daughter, is a gripping blend of reportage, memoir, and analysis set against the backdrop of a fraught Middle East. In the book, Sulome takes an intimate look at the kidnapping of her father, journalist Terry Anderson, and his seven years in captivity during the Lebanon Hostage Crisis. Throughout her investigation, she explores the ensuing political firestorm on both her family and the United States—as well as the far-reaching implications of those events on Middle East politics today.
In 1991, when she was six-and-a-half years old, Sulome met her father for the first time. Anderson had been working as the Middle East bureau chief for the Associated Press, covering the long and bloody civil war in Lebanon, when he was kidnapped in Beirut by a Shiite Muslim militia that would come to be associated with the Hezbollah movement. While the press painted his homecoming as a happy ending, the truth was far darker. Plagued by PTSD, Anderson proved to be a moody, aloof, and distant figure. But Sulome smiled for the cameras all the same, even as her father’s trauma became her own.
After years of struggle—both with her family and her personal demons of drug abuse and mental illness—she would travel to the Middle East as a conflict reporter, seeking to better understand her father, the men who had taken him hostage, and by extension, herself. What she discovered was eye-opening—not only about her father, but about the political events that surrounded the years of his captivity. Sulome tells moving stories from her experiences as a reporter in the region and challenges our understanding of global politics, the forces that spawn terrorism and especially Lebanon, the beautiful, devastated, and vitally important country she came to love. Powerful and eye-opening, The Hostage’s Daughter is essential reading for anyone interested in international relations, this violent, haunted region, and America's role in its fate.
An alumna of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Anderson reports feature stories for publications including The Atlantic, VICE, New York magazine, Foreign Policy, and Vox. Her goal is to write about people in extreme circumstances in order to convey how political strife affects the humans involved. Anderson has covered a wide range of topics including child marriages among Syrian refugees, an ISIS presence in Lebanon, and Kurdish tribes on the front lines in Iraq.
Praise for The Hostage’s Daughter:
“A perilous and riveting spiral into Middle Eastern politics, exploring the dawn of the terrorist era in Beirut . . . Anderson creates a compelling depiction of the collateral damage of terrorism and a remarkable piece of investigative journalism with a surprise twist.”
“In this well-reported memoir, the journalist daughter of former hostage Terry Anderson effectively weaves together the personal and the political...it’s easy to imagine a movie version of this drama.”
“Anderson is at her best when she teases apart the narrative’s many threads, which number not just Hezbollah, but also the broader community of Shiite Islam, to say nothing of Israeli intelligence, the CIA, Iran, and other actors in set pieces such as the Beirut embassy bombing.”
“[A] heart-felt, moving . . . examination of a greatly changed Middle East and the groups that benefited from their hostage taking and other terrorist activities, but are far from atoning for them.”
--Rod Nordland, international correspondent at large, The New York Times and author of The Lovers
"An excellent piece of reportage from someone who clearly has an intimate understanding of the Middle East, interwoven with an equally gripping and emotional account of one woman’s quest for reason and forgiveness. This is the story that few journalists have the bravery to write about others, let alone themselves.”
--Reza Azlan, author of Zealot
“There are times when you want to look away. This book is that personal. By telling the story of the author-and her famous family-it also traces the story of terrorism in the modern era, in gripping and intimate ways.”
--Brian Williams, MSNBC
“A gutsy coming-of-age memoir, beautifully written, and always provocative. From wounded adolescence to fearless investigative reporter, Sulome Anderson confronts her father’s kidnappers-and along the way, she shines a harsh light on the murky world of intelligence in a distraught Middle East. A poignant and astonishing mystery story.”
--Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames
“Deeply personal and brutally frank . . . powerfully demonstrates that suffering need not destroy.”
--Terry Waite CBE, former hostage, President of Hostage UK and author of Taken on Trust
"[Sulome’s] brutally candid, fiercely intelligent, and beautifully crafted memoir is both a fascinating introduction to the shadow world of Middle East intrigue and an inspiring story of resilience and recovery.”
--Stephen M. Walt, coauthor of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
"A remarkable personal story as well as penetrating insight into the adamantine world of the Middle East, where truth and politics are irreconcilable."
--Brian Keenan, former hostage and author of An Evil Cradling