TODAY   |  September 06, 2013

Journalist describes kidnapping ordeal in Somalia

Amanda Lindhout, who was abducted and held hostage in Somalia for 15 and a half months, details her ordeal in a new book “A House in the Sky.” Interviewed on TODAY, she talks about a failed escape attempt and describes how she kept her will to survive.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> in 2008 along with her friend and photographer. they were held by islamic rebels for 15 1/2 months. she is telling her amazing story of survival and triumph in her new book called a house in the sky. amanda is with us now exclusively. good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> i can't imagine how difficult it must have been to relive this terror and to write about it. why did you want to write the book?

>> i think that we learn from each other. and i -- i survived a pretty extreme ordeal for 460 days and i think if i have something to say about the human spirit and our human capacity to survive, that's important. and i'm also a reader myself and i wanted to tell a story that was going to be entertaining, taking the reader through my early travels around the world and then ultimately into, you know, the dark part of the story, which was when i was abducted.

>> you went through so much. you were held for 15 months. we cannot possibly do it justice in this few minutes we have together. but if you can just kind of let people know what that was like for you, what that captivity entailed for you, what you went through.

>> extremely difficult conditions throughout those 460 days. much of that being kept isolated, in the dark, with chains around my ankles and, you know, being abused very regularly. i mean, it was a very difficult experience.

>> you are amazingly resilient and one of the things that you write about is how you would hold on to hope. how did you do that? those dark, dark days ?

>> well, it wasn't always easy but i found that as things progressively got worse, you -- i needed to find something to hold on to, some kind of light in that situation. and so, for me it was thoughts of returning home one day or what i would do with my life afterwards if i was to survive that gave me hope to -- just to make it through there or to make it through an hour.

>> there were times in your captivity where things went from bad, i think to worse. and one of those times was after you attempted to escape. you write about it in the book. it's harrowing and it's heart stopping but you and nigel, your friend, were able to basically chip away at bricks and escape periodically. can you tell me a little bit about that?

>> yeah, this was after we had been held hostage for about five months and we were feeling really desperate, sure that our captors were probably going to kill us even if they did get the ransom that they were demanding from our families. and so we planned an executed an escape which was using a pair of nail clippers , carving out a couple of bricks at a bathroom window and we made it out and we were free for all of about 40 minutes and found our way into a mosque where we hoped to find help and it didn't take long for our captors to track us there and drug us out of there and what happened after was, you know, was much worse than anything we had experienced up until that point.

>> i know you have been through so much. we don't want to relive it here but i knew that there was one thing you wanted to make clear. there has been a rumor out there that you had become pregnant and given birth to a child during this time and i know you want to set the record straight about that.

>> yeah, i absolutely did not have a child in captivity or give birth while i with was there. it's unfortunate that these sort of tabloid headlines just continue to circulate even all of these years later but absolutely that's not true.

>> what was it like to escape and actually be freed and see your mother for the first time? what was that moment when you realized i really am out. i really am free? what was it like for you?

>> well, the reunion with my mother which took place at a hospital the day after nigel and i were released and then flown out by private security team to nairobi. seeing my mother that day standing in the sunshine outside of the hospital was really surreal actually. it was this moment that i had been dreaming about for 460 days so there she was and when she held me her arms felt like home. like i had come home.

>> what do you think is in you that allowed you to survive? when i read your story i thought i would have given up time and time and time again and you never did.

>> i don't think it's something that's unique to me. i think it's the human spirit inside of all of us that has an enormous capacity to survive and i went through something that was exceedingly tiff cut. so i had to dive pretty deep to find out what i was made of. so i had the opportunity to do that. yeah.

>> well, it's an amazing story. the book, again is called house in the sky. thank you so much for being here. really appreciate it.

>> thank you.

>> you can see much more of her story tonight on