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The Dawn Prayer

By Matthew Schrier


Photographer Matthew Schrier, captured in Syria and imprisoned for seven months, recounts his story and how he became the first American ever to escape Al Qaeda.

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ISBN: 9781948836159

Publication Date: April 2019

ISBN: 9781944648886

Publication Date: April 2018

Publication Date: April 2018

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“If I ever had a chance to pick a guide to walk through hell, that would be, no doubt, Matt Schrier, whose gifted hand is able to tame the dreadful memories of his darkest hours in captivity into the most clear, powerful and enlightening narrative.” —Juan Ríos, Spanish Mission to the UN


“What is your name?” asked General Mohammad.

“Matthew,” I said. I had stopped saying Matt a while ago because it means “dead” in Arabic.

In 2012, Matthew Schrier was headed home from Syria, where he’d been photographing the intense combat of the country’s civil war. Just 45 minutes from the safety of the Turkish border, he was taken prisoner by the al Nusra Front—an organization the world would come to know as the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda.

Over the next seven months he would endure torture and near starvation in six brutal terrorist prisons. He’d face a daily struggle just to survive. And, eventually, he’d escape.

In this gripping, raw, and surprisingly funny memoir, Schrier details the horrifying and frequently surreal experience of being a slight, wisecracking Jewish guy held captive by the world’s most violent Islamic extremists. Managing to keep his heritage a secret, Schrier used humor to develop relationships with his captors—and to keep himself sane during the long months of captivity. Along the way, he made lifelong friends—and unexpected enemies—among his fellow prisoners and witnessed both the best and the worst of human nature.

The Dawn Prayer (Or How to Survive in a Secret Syrian Terrorist Prison): A Memoir is a tale of patriotism and unimaginable bleakness shot through with light . . . of despair and friendship, sacrifice and betrayal, in a setting of bombed-out buildings and shifting alliances. It’s the story of the first Westerner to escape al Qaeda—not a battle-hardened soldier, but an ordinary New Yorker who figured out how to set his escape plan in motion from: a scene in Jurassic Park. From the prisoners’ fiercely competitive Hacky-Sack games and volleyball tournaments (played using a ball made of shredded orange peels and a shoelace) to his own truly nail-biting outbreak, Matthew Schrier’s story is unforgettable—and one you won’t want to miss.

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About the Author

Matthew  Schrier

Matthew Schrier is from Deer Park, New York, and a graduate of Hofstra University, where he studied film production and English. In 2013, he became the first Westerner to ever escape from Al Qaeda. His story has been covered by 60 Minutes, the New York Times, and CNN, and since his return home, Matthew has devoted himself to working with the US Military, using his experience in Syria to educate American troops about survival after capture by extremists. The Dawn Prayer is his first book.

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Latest Press

New York Post — book article on April 10, 2018

The Michael Calderin Show — author interview on April 3, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. EST

Newsday — author article on April 3, 2018

Global News — book article on March 29, 2018 ― book mention in author interview on February 19, ...

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BBC Radio 5 — author interview on May 11, 2018 at 8:30 p.m. EST 

WFMD-AM (Frederick, MD) — author interview on May 3, 2018; air date May 4, 2018 

KTTH-AM “The Jason Rantz Show” (Seattle) — author interview on April 9, 2018 at 1:45 p.m. EST

CBN Radio “Global Lane” (National) — author interview on April 27, ...

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CNN Facebook Live — live author interview on April 11, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. EST [link updated]; post has received over 221K views!

Russia Today — author interview aired on April 4, 2018

Newsmax TV — author interview on April 3, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. EST

Rebel TV — author interview on April 3, ...

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Publication Details

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781948836159

Dimensions: 6 x 9 x 1 in.

Weight: 1 lbs.

Publication Date: April 2019

Format: Hardcover

ISBN: 9781944648886

Dimensions: 6 x 9 x 1 in.

Weight: 2 lbs.

Publication Date: April 2018

Format: E-book (epub)

Publication Date: April 2018

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