This moving, eye-opening memoir of an innocent man detained at Guantánamo Bay for fifteen years tells a story of humanity in the unlikeliest of places and an unprecedented look at life at Guantánamo.

At the age of 18, Mansoor Adayfi left his home in Yemen for a cultural mission to Afghanistan. He never returned. Kidnapped by warlords and then sold to the US after 9/11, he was disappeared to Guantánamo Bay, where he spent the next 14 years as Detainee #441.

Don't Forget Us Here tells two coming-of-age stories in parallel: a makeshift island outpost becoming the world's most notorious prison and an innocent young man emerging from its darkness. Arriving as a stubborn teenager, Mansoor survived the camp's infamous interrogation program and became a feared and hardened resistance fighter leading prison riots and hunger strikes. With time though, he grew into the man nicknamed "Smiley Troublemaker": a student, writer, advocate, and historian. While at Guantánamo, he wrote a series of manuscripts he sent as letters to his attorneys, which he then transformed into this vital chronicle, in collaboration with award-winning writer Antonio Aiello. With unexpected warmth and empathy, Mansoor unwinds a narrative of fighting for hope and survival in unimaginable circumstances, illuminating the limitlessness of the human spirit. And through his own story, he also tells Guantánamo's story, offering an unprecedented window into one of the most secretive places on earth and the people—detainees and guards alike—who lived there with him.
Twenty years after 9/11, Guantánamo remains open, and at a moment of due reckoning, Mansoor Adayfi helps us understand what actually happened there—both the horror and the beauty—a stunning record of an experience we cannot afford to forget.

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews


"In this landmark work, Mansoor Adayfi gives us a guided tour through the nightmarish landscape of Guantánamo. He tells a tale of both casual cruelty and organized sadism that should make every American politician redden with shame. But this memoir offers much more than just a gruesome portrait of a bureaucracy gone berserk, for it describes the fierce resistance and ultimate redemption of an innocent Yemeni man consigned to a hellish prison. Let us hope that Don't Forget Us Here will spark a long overdue reckoning with the horrors of Guantánamo and its many victims."
 —Ron Chernow, former president of PEN America and bestselling author of Grant and Hamilton
"This is a wholly enthralling, relentlessly enraging, and unexpectedly funny book about one man caught in the absurdist world of the War on Terror. With his mordant wit and astonishing perseverance, Mansoor is impossible not to root for. This is a contemporary Unbroken with vital lessons for the American military-intelligence complex, exposing how an ostensibly moral nation becomes a state sponsor of torture."—Dave Eggers, Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize
"An incredible story! I am grateful to this joyously heartbreaking book for reminding me of what it means to be not just human, but humane. Once we read his story, we too must become committed, held accountable and responsible for what happened in Guantánamo, what is still happening and what might happen in the future.  This book is about the horrendous reality of life for the Guantánamo detainees. But it is also about resilience in the face of such reality, and joy of being alive, preserving your sense of dignity and identity under the worst conditions. It is about how to create new spaces when all space has been confiscated. Finally it is about how to transcend Guantánamo, making us face up to what it means to be not human but also humane."
 —Azar Nafisi, bestselling author of Reading Lolita in Tehran
"Powerful…An important record of prisoner mistreatment as a national reckoning over Guantánamo continues to loom."—Kirkus (starred review)
"Searing...This poignant testament strikes a devastating chord."—Publishers Weekly
"A profoundly moving and immensely important tribute to the intelligence, resilience, and humanity with which its author, Mansoor Adayfi, survived fourteen years as a detainee in the notorious Guantanamo prison camp."—Francine Prose, bestselling author of Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932
"After years of hearing and reading only the ‘official’ version of his story, as told by his captors, at last Mansoor himself speaks. Speaking at all after such experiences, which included 14 years of the most serious human rights violations and daily humiliations designed to break the human spirit, is a victory. Speaking as Mansoor does here, of the struggle of Guantánamo's prisoners to assert their humanity, turns the official story about these men on its head, and shows Guantánamo for what it is: a terrible shame and a pointless failure."—Mohamedou Ould Slahi, bestselling author of Guantánamo Diary
"The story of Mansoor, an 18-year-old student trapped inside the special hell reserved for prisoners of Guantanamo, is a memoir documenting the anguish of being falsely accused inside a cruel, unjust system. It takes us inside the tenacious mind of a remarkable young man who refused to be broken by ritualized mental and physical torture. Through acts of courageous resistance and unbounding faith, he holds onto his dignity. His ritual of writing to make his case would become this important record, opening a window of stunning humanity into a place meant to be kept forever secret."
 —Melissa Fleming, UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications and author of A Hope More Powerful than the Sea
"A blistering, eloquent indictment of Guantánamo. Mansoor Adayfi vividly describes the abuses committed there and he writes powerfully about the decade and half he spent there."—Peter Bergen, bestselling author of The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden and The Longest War
"Mansoor Adayfi’s Don’t Forget Us Here may be one of the most shocking books you’ll ever read, but not for the reasons you might expect. The relentless torture that Adayfi receives at Guantanamo Bay, recounted in excruciating detail, will shock your conscience, as will the horrifying fact that Adayfi was held without charge by the US government for over fourteen years, losing his entire twenties in the process. But what’s most shocking about this extraordinary book is Adayfi’s enormous capacity to resist his captors with uncommon creativity, dignity, and even humor. Don’t Forget Us Here shows us how the gulag at Guantanamo, designed to deprive hundreds of Muslim men of everything they once held dear, ultimately stripped the jailers--and not the inmates--of their own humanity."—Moustafa Bayoumi, author of How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America
“Two lines haunt this unforgettable book about an innocent man's 14 years of torture and unspeakable abuse at the US detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba: ‘how do you survive?’ and ‘I'm should never have been here.’ Mansoor’s answer to the question, asked by a young guard, is: thanks to a religious faith and resilience so fierce it almost restores one's faith in humanity. I say almost because the accompanying confession, from a Navy Colonel, suggests that US military brass (and their political bosses) knew that they were torturing mostly innocent men for years but continued with it anyway. This is a riveting, illuminating account of Guantánamo from a Muslim perspective.”—Jonathan Hansen, author of Guantánamo: An American History
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