Hostage Bound, Hostage Free, by Ben and Carol Weir, with Dennis Benson. Philadelphia: Westminster Press. 180 pp. $12.95. Triumph over Terror on Flight 847, by Capt. John Testrake with David J. Wimbish. Old Tappin, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Company. 256 pp. $14.95.
ON May 8, 1984, Ben and Carol Weir were strolling to a meeting at an ecumenical Christian seminary in west Beirut when a car pulled up behind them. In what is now a familiar scenario, two gunmen forced the Presbyterian minister into the back of their car and sped away. For the next 495 days, the Rev. Mr. Weir was held hostage by the Islamic Jihad (``Islamic holy war'') organization.
On June 14, 1985, Capt. John Testrake was piloting TWA Flight 847 between Athens and Rome when two gunmen burst into the cockpit and ordered the plane flown to Algeria. It was the beginning of one of the most bizarre hijackings in history, an ordeal that would soon break down into the second mass hostage trauma for the United States.
The subsequent plight of both men marks the emergence of the foreign hostage phenomenon as the most effective tactic of Middle East terrorists in the 1980s. Since 1982, 131 foreigners from 18 nations have been abducted in Lebanon; 55 have been Americans. Eight Americans are still in captivity in Lebanon.
Their ordeals have gripped the US and made the yellow ribbon into a national symbol. Yet, while hostages command world headlines during captivity, too little attention is paid to their subsequent, often politically discomforting comments.
Two books, which reflect a special genre within the burgeoning literature on terrorism, offer insights into the ominous new hostage trend as well as interesting commentary on US policy response. ``Hostage Bound, Hostage Free'' by Ben and Carol Weir and ``Triumph over Terror'' by John Testrake are moving accounts of their similar but separate captivities. They are also narratives about politics, religion, and human suffering - of all involved.
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