For New York Times reporter David Rohde, being kidnapped by an Afghan Taliban commander he had arranged to interview in November 2008 was both the worst-case outcome of a reckless decision and a fantastic opportunity—he survived, after all. "In Iraq and Afghanistan ... the reporter who took the greatest risk often received the highest acclaim," writes Rohde in the resulting memoir, A Rope and a Prayer: A Kidnapping from Two Sides (Viking, $27). "Ambition had gotten the best of me." Co-authored with his wife, former Cosmopolitan photo director Kristen Mulvihill, the book is actually three narratives: the war history Rohde had nearly completed when he was abducted; the story of his captivity; and Mulvihill's stateside dispatches, which tell the story of the futile U.S. government campaign to negotiate his release. Rohde's account of his escape is thrilling: he and his fixer, Tahir, slipped over a wall with a rope in the night. But the book is most valuable for its rare look into the lives of the Taliban fighters who kept Rohde captive. Few Americans have ever been so deep and lived to tell about it.