What would cause an otherwise intelligent, well-educated, and, by all accounts, privileged Californian to forgo an easy life in the United States to struggle for survival in a land of strife and mortal danger? With this question in mind, journalist Mark Kukis retraces the personal and spiritual evolution of the most reviled American traitor since Lee Harvey Oswald. “My Heart Became Attached” provides a detailed biographical account of John Walker Lindh’s journey, beginning with his childhood in an affluent San Francisco suburb. Kukis then follows Lindh’s footsteps to Yemen, where he learned Arabic and radical Islam, and on through the wild hinterlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The journey culminates with the violent prison uprising at Mazar-i-Sharif.
While conducting research, Kukis achieved unparalleled access to major players in Lindh’s life. In Pakistan, Kukis found the militants from the jihad group that trained with Lindh in a Pakistani camp. Kukis also conducted several rounds of interviews with Lindh’s friend who initially settled him in an Islamic boarding school, with Lindh’s instructor there, and with fellow pupils in the hardscrabble Pakistani village where he studied the Koran before journeying into Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, Kukis interviewed Taliban soldiers who fought at Mazar-i-Sharif and General Dostum, warlord of the region. Ex-roommates, family members, and friends all contributed to Kukis’s research, resulting in the most thorough portrait available of the American Taliban.