"My Heart Became Attached"


"My Heart Became Attached"

The Strange Journey of John Walker Lindh

Mark Kukis

220 pages


July 2008


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eBook (PDF)
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July 2011


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About the Book

What would cause an otherwise intelligent, well-educated, and, by all accounts, privileged Californian to forgo an easy life in the United States to struggle for survival in a land of strife and mortal danger? With this question in mind, journalist Mark Kukis retraces the personal and spiritual evolution of the most reviled American traitor since Lee Harvey Oswald. "My Heart Became Attached provides a detailed biographical account of John Walker Lindh’s journey, beginning with his childhood in an affluent San Francisco suburb. Kukis then follows Lindh’s footsteps to Yemen, where he learned Arabic and radical Islam, and on through the wild hinterlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The journey culminates with the violent prison uprising at Mazar-i-Sharif.While conducting research, Kukis achieved unparalleled access to major players in Lindh’s life. In Pakistan, Kukis found the militants from the jihad group that trained with Lindh in a Pakistani camp. Kukis also conducted several rounds of interviews with Lindh’s friend who initially settled him in an Islamic boarding school, with Lindh’s instructor there, and with fellow pupils in the hardscrabble Pakistani village where he studied the Koran before journeying into Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, Kukis interviewed Taliban soldiers who fought at Mazar-i-Sharif and General Dostum, warlord of the region. Ex-roommates, family members, and friends all contributed to Kukis’s research, resulting in the most thorough portrait available of the American Taliban.


"Mark Kukis expertly retraces John Walker Lindh’s unlikely odyssey from northern California to southern Afghanistan in this well-written account that illuminates the transformation Lindh underwent to become ‘the American Taliban’."—Peter Bergen, CNN terrorism analyst and author of Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama Bin Laden

"Mark Kukis has written a superb book about John Walker Lindh and his odyssey in search of spirituality through Islam. It is a brilliant answer to those who have puzzled over Lindh’s quest and fate."—Helen Thomas, Hearst Newspapers

"Kukis captures Lindh’s journey to the dark side with insight and commendable detail. More importantly he helps us understand the motivations, forces, events, and personalities that shaped the man who shocked the world."—Robert Young Pelton, author of The World's Most Dangerous Places

"Kukis vividly retraces Lindh’s journey, step by step, in the manner of an adventure book."—Jane Mayer, Washington Post

"An important contribution to understanding the current conflict against Islamic militants."—Terrorism and Political Violence

"The story of the so-called American Taliban offers important lessons for many specialists. . . . An important contribution to understanding the current conflict against Islamic militants."—Terrorism and Political Violence

Table of Contents

Author’s Note
San Francisco to Sana’a
A New Kind of School
Purity and Piety on the Northwest Frontier
Answering the Call to Arms
The Taliban Caravan
An Uncertain Surrender
Jihad’s Last Cry
Fame, Fear, and a Passage Home
The Mercies of an Anguished Nation
Faith and Silence
About the Author