John McCarthy CBE

John McCarthy CBE

Beirut Hostage

Synopsis

The travel writer and presenter endured nearly two thousand days in captivity after he was taken hostage in Lebanon by Islamic Jihad. He explains how our reserves of courage and determination can be harnessed and used to winning effect in life and business.

Biography

Writer, broadcaster and journalist John McCarthy became headline news himself when he was captured in Lebanon by the fundamentalist Islamic Jihad group. Enduring 1,943 days of captivity and isolation, John faced unimaginable periods of mental and physical torture, tedium, despair, uncertainty and self-doubt.

Upon release, John attempted to return to a normal life, but the profoundly traumatic effects of his imprisonment had a lasting effect. He recounted his experiences in his first book, Some Other Rainbow, which he co-authored with his partner Jill Morrell, who had relentlessly campaigned to keep John in the headlines during his five years of captivity.

Since then John has written Between Extremes, the story of his Patagonian journey accompanied by fellow Lebanese hostage Brian Keenan, as well as A Ghost Upon Your Path about his Irish heritage. His work marrying travel and reportage also led to You Can't Hide the Sun, an account of his time travelling around Israel and Palestine.

Focusing on travel writing, John co-authored the TV documentary Island Race, in which he and friend and fellow traveller Sandi Toksvig circumnavigated Britain. The two teamed up again to present Radio 4's travel programme Excess Baggage. Also on television John made a return to Beirut for the documentary film Out Of The Shadows in which he sought to understand the country he'd been held in and the motives of his Shi'a captors. In Faultlines he examined the roots of religious conflicts over the world, from the US to India, Russia to Iran. John remains a frequent contributor to TV and radio on subjects from history and travel to the Middle East and hostage capture.

In speeches John approaches his incredible life and experiences with humour, courage and pragmatism. He explains how he found the will overcome the desperation captivity induced and stay sane and looks at how these lessons can apply to more everyday aspects of life and work.

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Video

Conference Speaker John McCarthy on Overcoming Adversity