Synopses & Reviews
On December 18, 1997, more than six hundred VIPs were attending the birthday party of the Japanese ambassador to Peru at his elegant residence. Political figures, business leaders, and socialites mingled in a tented pavilion on expansive grounds. Then, without warning, fourteen masked, heavily armed figures burst in.
Members of the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), a deadly Cuban-influenced band of insurgents, the terrorists demanded the release of four hundred of their comrades from prison–or they would kill all the hostages. The event inspired a media frenzy–especially when Perus president, Alberto Fujimori, refused to negotiate.
What the public didnt know was that Fujimori had immediately begun planning a military assault–with the help of one particular party guest. Luis Giampietri had been a field commander of special operation forces that had fought terrorists, including the MRTA. His quick suppression of a prison mutiny by Shining Path revolutionaries had made him a feared enemy. Now, dismissed by his captors as a harmless retiree, he became a crucial component of a complex commando rescue operation.
41 Seconds to Freedom is Giampietris inside account of the unnerving ordeal and its resolution through heroism and sheer audacity. Here he tells how he used his pager to reveal to the commandos outside the terrorists positions, habits, and tactics; how one young female terrorist became infatuated with a Japanese hostage–with fateful consequences; how a Red Cross employee was discovered to be in league with the MRTA; and how the rescue took all of 41 seconds from start to finish.
But Giampietris story doesnt end when the crisis did. The corruption inquiry after President Fujimoris subsequent fall from power cast doubt on the entire operation, painting liberators as executioners and making Giampietri feel “forever a hostage.”
As riveting as any fictional thriller, and by turns encouraging and cautionary, 41 Seconds to Freedom is an invaluable account of one of the most dramatic terrorist hostage takings in history.
About the Author
Luis Giampietri, a retired admiral, is now vice president of Peru. In a forty-year career he has been a deep-sea diver, a combat swimmer, commander of two warships, a naval attaché to Great Britain, and a field commander of special operation forces fighting terrorists and drug traffickers.
Bill Salisbury is a retired navy commander and former Navy SEAL who has written widely for the San Diego Reader, Miami New Times, and Soldier of Fortune magazine. He practices law in San Diego.
Lorena Ausejo is a journalist who has written for leading Peruvian magazines and newspapers. She has published a book of her interviews with famous Peruvians, including former secretary general of the United Nations Javier Perez de Cuellar. She is currently the news director for a prime-time TV program about politics telecast by Peru’s equivalent of CNN.