Impossible Odds

  • by Jessica Buchanan, Erik Landemalm, Anthony Flacco
  • Narrated by Anthony Flacco, Candace Thaxton, George Newbern
  • 8 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A harrowing and heart-wrenching memoir of humanitarian aid worker Jessica Buchanan's kidnapping by Somali land pirates, her three months in captivity, her rescue by the Navy SEALs, and her husband's extraordinary efforts to help bring her home.
In 2006, 27-year-old Jessica Buchanan arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, with a teaching degree and long-held dreams of helping to educate African children. By 2009, she had met and married the man of her dreams, a native Swede named Erik Landemalm, who worked to coordinate humanitarian aid with local authorities in Africa. With dreams of starting a family, they moved from Nairobi to Somalia, and their future couldn't have seemed brighter....
But on October 25, 2011, Jessica and a male colleague were kidnapped at gunpoint and held for ransom by an organized band of Somali land pirates. For the next three months, Jessica was terrorized by more than two dozen gangsters. She was held outdoors in filthy conditions and kept on a starvation diet while her health steadily deteriorated. Negotiations for ransom dragged on, and as the ordeal stretched into its third month, the captors grew increasingly impatient.
Every terrifying moment Jessica spent suffering in captivity was matched by that of her adoring husband working behind the scenes to deal with her captors. Finally, on January 25, 2012, President Barack Obama ordered a rescue operation by a team of 24 Navy SEALs. The team killed all nine kidnappers, with no harm to the hostages, who were quickly airlifted out on a military rescue helicopter.
In riveting detail, Impossible Odds details Jessica and Erik's mutual journey during those torturous months. Together they relate the events prior to the kidnapping, the drama of Jessica's fight to stay alive, and Erik's efforts to bolster and support the hunt for her while he acted as liaison between their two families, the FBI, professional hostage negotiators, and the United States government.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An Amazing Survival Story

If you could sum up Impossible Odds in three words, what would they be?

Courageous, Intense and Heartwarming.


Who was your favorite character and why?

Jessica, of course. She always looked out for Paul who was kidnapped along with her. She kept her cool even though she was angry because she knew that their were two lives at stake not just one. She was ingenious in finding ways to care for herself even though they didn't give her the supplies she needed to help her survive.


What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

In the beginning of the book, at the time of Jessica's kidnapping... I was worried about the female narrator not showing enough emotion. I kept listening and found that she did in the rest of the book. She did a great job. The other narrators were wonderful too and it was nice to change voices when changing perspectives and characters.


If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I love the title of the book and wouldn't change it for a possible film. It's perfect!


Any additional comments?

I didn't know anything about this book or the kidnapping that had occurred until a friend said that she saw the author (Jessica) on a talk show recently. My friend never listened to the audio book so she couldn't recommend it to me. I decided to take a chance on it and found that it was absolutely inspiring. I highly recommend it.

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- J 4535

Come and Rescue Us, PLEASE

What made the experience of listening to Impossible Odds the most enjoyable?

What the experience of listening to Impossible Odds the most enjoyable was the way in which it was written. I enjoyed listening to the varied narrators. I was happy to know that Jessica Buchanan and Paul were rescued.


What was one of the most memorable moments of Impossible Odds?

The most memorable moment of Impossible Odds was when a member of SEAL Team Six presented Jessica Buchanan with the American flag after being rescued. Those men of SEAL Team Six did a bang up job rescuing Jessica and Paul. If I were in need of such a rescue, I would hope to be rescued by them. Jessica had nothing but praise for SEAL Team Six.


What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narrators bring the people to life. I felt that I could have been the kidnapped. The verbalization put me there.


If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Somalian Kidnapper's Cause Terror and Revel in Cruelty


Any additional comments?

Somalia has no government. The people of Somalia are uneducated, the poorest of the poor, starving, fearful and are taught to hate. Jessica Buchanan put her fears aside and left the safety of her base camp to attend a meeting concerning the education she was providing for the African children. She questioned the new driver in her mind but did not voice her concerns. Her and her companion Paul were both kidnapped by Somalian's for ransom. The sum of 45 million dollars was their first request. The amount continued to go down as time dragged on. Both Jessica and Paul were treated inhumanely. They were not given enough water or food which led to dehydration, starvation, weakness and illness. Care packages were provided for them but nothing ever reached them because they were stolen. Jessica had her thyroid medication with her but it was taken away. The drones that were watching from high above could visualize Paul and Jessica's plight. Jessica required antibiotics. She had not been allowed to take the thyroid medication which caused her to become infected with a urinary tract infection. A UTI requires antibiotics because the infection could get into the blood causing sepsis, which is life threatening.The kidnapper's kept their prisoner's outside at all times. They were unable to keep themselves clean, urinated and defecated behind bushes without any toilet paper. The Somalian people do not have any toilet paper. They were given minimal space to exercise, they walked in circles. Jessica kept her sanity by talking to her recently deceased mother, she kept in contact with Eric, in her mind. Jessica and Paul were in captivity for 93 days and each day was worse than the one before. The kidnapper's held guns to their heads and kept them in constant fear with intimidation and a multitude of other horrors. When it was determined that the health of Jessica was in jeopardy due to her deterioration from illness and would die, was when she and Paul were allowed to be rescued and not before. President Obama gave the order for SEAL Team Six to rescue Jessica and Paul.

The book was well written and made the reader a part of her story. Jessica wanted to tell the world her story. Her memoir is a good listen.

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- Pamela Dale Foster

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-14-2013
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio