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In the latter part of the 19th century, Commander-In-Chief Ghulam Haidar Khan Charki became a national hero with his successful efforts to peacefully unite all of Afghanistan. His four sons also became critical government figures, and together with the soon-to-be King, Prince Amanullah, they worked diligently on the arduous task of modernizing the outdated country of Afghanistan. These changes included such things as building relationships with Europe, abolishing slavery, and creating freedom and equality for women. Unfortunately, not everyone believed that King Amanullah’s plans were in the best interest of the country, and while he was overseas in 1929, a coup was developed and successfully forged against him. This led to thousands of people, many loyal to the original King, including the Charki family, to become political prisoners.
Author Adam Siddiq, Khaled Siddiq’s grandson composes a beautifully intense (often leaving this reader teary eyed) and inspiring true account of Khaled’s life that includes many touching family photos, and a solid account of Afghanistan’s turbulent history. The journey begins in 1932, when Khaled is a mere boy of six. His father, Ghulam Siddiq Khan Charki (son of Ghulam Haidar Khan Charki) is exiled, some of his uncles are executed, and his family is imprisoned in Kabul. Forced to barely survive in wretched conditions, Khaled and his family suffer from (and some succumb to) various preventable illnesses. However, instead of languishing in their misery and giving up hope for freedom, Khaled’s family, with the help of his aunt, decide to make the best of their situations by educating the young children. Over the decades of his imprisonment, Khaled was able to learn to speak fluently in several languages, and most importantly he was able to develop the patience, optimism, kindness and fortitude that would serve him immensely throughout the decades of his imprisonment, home confinement, and further struggles with the new Afghanistan government.
A few decades ago, I was a student nearing the end of my studies where our teacher was discussing the critical importance and utmost value of education. The teacher made a profound statement that really left a mark in my memories - he said, “They may take your cars and your possessions. They may foreclose on your home. The world may even do the unthinkable by taking away your family and loved ones, but what no one will ever be able to take away from you is your education. Once you have it, it is yours forever. No one can take that away from you.”
I thought about it, and eventually forgot about what was said that day. Fortunately, over the years, I never had to personally experience repeated and devastating loss, so my teacher’s profundity never truly struck home with me until many years later when I was deep into reading this memoir. Khaled Siddiq experienced substantial loss of his family, his family home and their possessions (and their trusted positions in the government) and most importantly his own freedom at the tender age of six. Yet through all this repeated devastation, he quickly learned the extreme value of education and was ultimately able to withstand years of abuse to, in essence, conquer an entire nation that was against him and his family, and win his complete freedom.
Quill says: Shackled: A Journey From Political Imprisonment to Freedom, is a powerful true story of one man’s life in Afghanistan filled with raw emotion that is an inspiring must-read for all humankind.
(Reviewed by Lynette Latzko for Feathered Quill Book Reviews)
 

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Reviewed by Ankita Shukla for Readers' Favorite
Shackled: A Journey From Political Imprisonment To Freedom by Adam Siddiq is his grandfather's real-life narration of a very dark time in Afghanistan
. The sufferings that his grandfather, Mr. Khaled Siddiq, endured are beyond imagination. I was appalled, moved, inspired, and transformed after reading Mr. Khaled Siddiq's life story. Khaled was born into an influential family. He lived in a huge house with many servants and wealth. His uncles and father were in the most sought-after political positions. When they needed to choose sides for the welfare of the country, they chose well -- or so they thought. The person whom they helped in bringing about the much-needed revolution in the country quickly rose to power, replaced the king, and insisted that everyone should pledge their loyalty. However, Khaled's uncles stood their ground and tried to talk reason with the Nadir Shah. This did not sit well with him and he had them executed. Nadir Shah did not stop with the executions, and since he was aware of the emotional influence that Khaled's family had on the people, he imprisoned their entire family. Thus started a horrifying and inspiring nightmare for the Charkhi family.
The brutality that the prisoners faced during that time was so overwhelming that I had to pause and ponder every now and then. Khaled was only six years old when he was thrown into a prison. He was terrified, confused, and sad with the changed -- an understatement -- lifestyle. His family could have surrendered and accepted this life as their reality; instead, they chose hope over disappointment. They turned towards learning academic skills that would prove extremely useful once they were released. Their will to keep faith in God and continue learning were the attributes that kept them from being broken.
This biography is a must-read for every pessimist to gain some perspective in life, for every optimist to remain hopeful, and for every reader who loves to learn about political movements. After reading about Khaled's sufferings, I laughed at the everyday problems that keep me up at night. Shackled: A Journey From Political Imprisonment To Freedom by Adam Siddiq is the naked truth about the corruption that prevailed in Kabul at that time. This is also a book that would encourage its readers never to lose hope and to look on the bright side instead of focusing on all their troubles.
 

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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
It is a beautiful thing when a grandson wants to know more about his grandfather’s past. After all, whatever happened in our families’ pasts may have
much to do with how current family members ended up where they are now…maybe even why they are the people they are today. It was Adam Siddiq’s curiosity about his grandfather, Khaled Siddiq Charkhi, that has resulted in this biography, Shackled: A Journey From Political Imprisonment To Freedom. Shackled is Khaled’s story, and what a story it is! At times, it’s almost hard to read because of the brutal deaths, illness, pestilence and poverty suffered by the Afghan people in the early 1930s when political upheaval tore families apart and resulted in the loss of innocent lives. Khaled’s family was one of these families after his father was exiled when Khaled was only six. The family’s estates were seized and mothers and children were tossed into prisons where starvation, dehydration and eventually even tuberculosis was rampant.
For 14 years of imprisonment, Khaled and his siblings clung to his mother’s belief that Allah would listen to their prayers and one day free them to truly live again. But that freedom was slow in coming and even after it came, Khaled, and any of us, would question what kind of freedom is it when you are still confined to a compound, albeit a nicer one, and only after several more years you are finally allowed to hold a job? Then it takes several more years to be granted a passport and allowed to travel beyond your own country. If nothing else, Shackled will make those who are free to be themselves, and go where they want to go, appreciate how lucky they are to be born where they were. So many others have never had, and may never have, the great gift of freedom.
What Adam Siddiq has done by writing Shackled is to honor his grandfather and those ancestors who died, and shouldn’t have, between 1932 and 1979, the years covered in this book: over 50 women and over 30 men. While readers may have a bit of trouble with the many names, often similar, over the decades, Adam Siddiq has tried to make it easier for us by keeping chapters short, using dialogue where it works, and keeping the language simple. In the epilogue, Khaled tells us he had recorded the family’s history in his Farsi tongue but when Adam read that history, once it had been translated into English, Adam was disappointed. He told his grandfather that all the emotion and life had been lost in that translation. Shackled is Adam Siddiq’s effort to tell Khaled’s story with the emotion and life it deserves…and he has succeeded. Khaled Siddiq Charkhi would be proud!
 

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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Shackled: A Journey From Political Imprisonment To Freedom by Adam Siddiq is the biography of the author's grandfather, Khaled Siddiq, and family in
the years following their arrest after a regime change in Afghanistan in 1932. The biography begins with a collection of photographs, letters with translation, and a family tree. It then delivers a narrative that spans through decades and describes, in graphic detail, years of systematic torture, executions and death by disease, harsh living conditions and the cruelty of man when the power shifts, even toward children. Throughout the ordeal, Khaled Siddiq clings to hope and educates himself, refusing to surrender more than just his body, until he is finally released.
Shackled by Adam Siddiq is a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit and its ability to overcome even the most unimaginable of circumstances. Siddiq does an incredible job detailing both the minutiae and far-reaching impact that a political prisoner and their family experience under the harshest conditions. Remarkably, Siddiq has even found poetry written by his grandfather with haunting words such as, "I have become adrift in this unfamiliar territory and have parted from my homeland." I would recommend this book to those with an interest in stories that encompass the human experience in profound ways, that hold nothing back when speaking of the sacrifices forced upon a family, and a treasure trove of uplifting and wonderfully inspired moments both during the darkest times and when the light finally reveals itself once more. This book is an easy five stars.
 

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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Shackled: A Journey From Political Imprisonment to Freedom by Adam Siddiq is the true story of Khaled Siddiq, a heartbreaking story of injustice and
betrayal and a sinister plan to eliminate an entire family. Khaled is just six when his entire family and extended family are betrayed, his father exiled and his uncles executed. His family used to be favored by the King of Afghanistan, but now everything has changed with the new regime. This family of men who stood by the king ends up in a dungeon in one of the forgotten corners of Kabul. Follow this gritty tale of hardship, of painful loss, and hope. Young Khaled makes the best use of his time and studies, learning five different languages and philosophy. When this family is finally released, life will never be the way it once was and it is difficult to walk any street without feeling as though they were being followed. And can Khaled be reunited with his father?
This story of grit and a young man’s struggle to survive against impossible odds is beautifully told. I have read a few books from authors from Afghanistan — including The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini — and there is always this surprising blend of insight and humanity that emerges from the ashes, and Shackled handles this aspect of the story beautifully. The narrative is smooth and the setting comes out clearly, with copious references to the culture and the traditional language of the protagonist. Readers will understand what key moments and places are called in the protagonist’s language. This masterful handling of setting gives authenticity to the story and reinforces the realism in the narrative. Shackled: A Journey From Political Imprisonment to Freedom is deeply moving, infused with deep values of humanity, a tale of hope and resilience. It is an incredible journey to freedom.
 

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Reviewed by Gisela Dixon for Readers' Favorite
Shackled: A Journey From Political Imprisonment To Freedom by Adam Siddiq is an engrossing biography of the Charkhi family of Afghanistan and, in
particular, the life story of Khaled Siddiq Charkhi. Shackled is a bit different from typical biographies because the author Adam is the grandson of Khaled, which almost makes this a family memoir, and the story is written in the voice of Khaled himself, who is already a published author. These elements make this book very real and authentic. The book starts with a brief introduction to Afghan history during the early parts of the twentieth century and the role of the Charkhi family in the administration. The book then moves on to to a first person narration of events including the change in power in Afghanistan, foreign affairs and relations with Germany, USSR, and Britain in particular, the executions and exiles of many Charkhi family members, and house imprisonment for others including Khaled and most of his immediate family. The book details their lives in captivity, their eventual release, and the fate of various members of the family.
I loved reading Shackled by Adam Siddiq and thought it was a very interesting and fascinating book. Not only does it provide an inside look at Afghan politics of those times, but more than that, it is simply a story of human beings and a family that got caught up in the change in political history of Afghanistan. The story is inspiring and is one that needed to be told. The numerous photographs throughout complement the text well and it was a delight to see the actual family members and people who lived this story. In the end, the tightly-woven narrative and engaging writing definitely make this a must-read biography.
 

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