Saving Sam

The True Story of an American’s Disappearance in Syria and His Family’s Extraordinary Fight to Bring Him Home

Coming Soon


By Sam Goodwin

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$39.00 CAD

A gripping testament of resilience, family, and faith, this is the incredible and true story of an American traveler who was captured and wrongfully imprisoned in Syria while on a journey to experience every country in the world.
What would you do if your son suddenly disappeared in Syria, and you had no idea what had happened to him? Would you contact the FBI? The State Department? Pray? Would you Google “What to do if your son disappears in Syria”?
When the unthinkable happened, the answer, in the case of Ann Goodwin and her husband Tag, was: all of the above. Their 30-year-old son Sam, who was attempting to become one of the few people in history to travel to every single country on the planet, vanished in a supposed safe-zone run by the Kurds on the Turkish border. At first, they didn’t even realize he had been abducted: maybe the phone reception had gone down, they told themselves, as had happened plenty of times before when Sam was in an off-the-beaten-path place. Just wait, he’ll call back soon.
But Sam never did call back, and over the coming days, the horror of their situation quickly bore down on the Goodwins, a devout Catholic family of seven living a middle-class suburban lifestyle in St. Louis, Missouri. Frustrated and increasingly terrified, the Goodwin’s came to realize that they couldn’t rely on their government to save Sam. They were going to have to do it themselves.
This is the extraordinary story of Sam’s abduction by the Syrian regime, who threatened to hand him over to ISIS for beheading if he did not confess to being a CIA spy. It’s also the story of a Midwestern American family who transformed themselves into their own detective agency, building up a network of journalists, hostage negotiators, Middle East experts, Russian diplomats, Vatican envoys, and shady mercenaries, until eventually – by nothing short of a miracle – they found a secret backdoor into the heart of the Syrian intelligence service itself.
Through multiple first-person narrators, Saving Sam recounts an inspiring and unforgettable saga that includes a travel journey to every country in the world, famous celebrities, heads of state, high-stakes diplomacy and critical life lessons around curiosity, uncertainty, prayer and what it ultimately means to be free. In a genuine, straightforward and sometimes humorous style, Sam draws on his experience as a hostage to demonstrate how we can all turn our own adversities into assets, whether it be in our personal, professional or spiritual lives.


  • "Saving Sam is both a poignant narrative and an important recount of state-sponsored hostage-taking that’s being routinized, globally. Having worked on freeing American-held hostages from a dystopian Syrian regime, Sam Goodwin’s deeply personal ‘road to Damascus’ and eventual freedom is an important, timely and well-told story."
    Col Christopher P. Costa, USA, ret., Former Special Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism, National Security Council, White House.
  • "As one of the few other people who have journeyed to every country in the world, I resonate deeply with Sam's remarkable odyssey chronicled in Saving Sam. This book is a testament to the indomitable will to survive and thrive, offering invaluable lessons that transcend boundaries andreshape our perspectives on life and the world."
    Lee Abbamonte, Travel influencer and Youngest American to Visit Every Country
  • "Saving Sam is one of the most remarkable stories revealing the miraculous potential for love to liberate us from our most isolating and agonizing situations. In reading this moving book, you’ll recognize the same love that connected dots to save Sam from his confinement can also liberate all of us from ours."
    John O’Leary, #1 National Bestselling author of On Fire and In Awe
  • "Sam Goodwin's harrowing journey, surviving against all odds after being taken hostage in Syria, is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. His unwavering faith, and the faith and actions of his supporters and family at home, not only guided him through the darkest of times, but also inspires others to find strength and hope in the face of overwhelming adversity."
    Sean Magennis, Former Global President of YPO, National Chairman of Young Catholic Professionals
  • "Sam’s story vividly illustrates how the resilience and skills cultivated through competitive athletics can be the difference between despair and triumph in life's most daunting challenges. I train world-class athletes at the highest level and commend Sam’s gripping account of survival and growth. We can all learn from this book!"
    Chris Pronger, NHL Hall of Famer and Stanley Cup Champion
  • "Saving Sam takes readers on a heart-pounding journey through the depths of captivity in Syria, one that profoundly resonates with my own in Iran. Sam and his family's unforgettable odyssey is a riveting testament of love, perseverance and freedom."
    Jason Rezaian, Global Opinions Writer, Washington Post
  •  "The true story of Sam Goodwin’s false arrest and imprisonment in Syria is a must read. The faith of this ordinary American family and the miraculous series of events which led to his freedom make an inspirational and page-turning tale."
    Patricia Heaton, Emmy Award-winning actress and advocate
  • "Sam’s story is a quintessentially American story. He explored the whole world – every corner of it – and brought his midwestern good cheer with him. Sam made friends for himself and the USA across the globe. When things went very bad, he faced an unimaginable situation with determination, optimism, and grace. For anyone who has traveled beyond our shores or yearned to do so, Sam’s book is a must read."
    Ambassador Robert C. O’Brien, 27th US National Security Advisor and 2nd Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs
  • "Hostage stories in the Middle East can run on for years, and then end in tragedy. Often, the days along the way are mind-numbingly routine even when frightening. Sam Goodwin's story in Syria is of a different sort. This is an adventure tale that, though dark, ends well. Sam's story has real narrative drive."
    David Bradley, Chairman & Owner of The Atlantic Media Company
  • "Saving Sam is the warm, uplifting story about an adventurous, athletic, enterprising, and likable young man; his large loving family; the Hostage Recovery Cell of the U.S. government; and a vast array of other characters. His ambitious quest to see every country in the world, and unknowingly to find himself and his purpose in life, and how and why he was taken prisoner in Syria, known for torturing and killing its captives, and how he, in his resourceful way, survived many weeks in solitary confinement, under the most primitive conditions, where he found the strength, in part from his faith, but also in himself, using his quick mind and athletic background to not lose hope and to keep himself strong. Unlike most hostage stories, even about those who survive, this one has a happy ending, and for the author, for whom we are rooting, the future is bright."
    Jere Van Dyk, Journalist, Author and Expert on the Middle East

On Sale
Sep 10, 2024
Page Count
288 pages
Center Street

Sam Goodwin

About the Author

Sam Goodwin is an American entrepreneur, author, and public speaker. A former Division I collegiate hockey player, he is one of the few people who have traveled to all 193 countries in the world and also the only American civilian to be released from captivity by the Assad regime. As an international keynote speaker, Sam and his message have inspired audiences and added value to hundreds of organizations around the world. Goodwin grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and currently lives in Washington, DC, where he earned a doctorate in international affairs from Johns Hopkins SAIS and serves on the boards of multiple advocacy organizations.

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