The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

August 19, 2009

African adventure

Author tells doctor’s story in first book

DANVILLE — Folks in Gessie, Ind., knew the Hollowell twins would make a name for themselves one day. As children, brothers Thomas and Terry were intelligent, creative and curious — traits that led them to travel the world and have adventures.

Now, Thomas, 30, who lives in Morocco, is traveling in the United States, promoting his first book, “Allah’s Garden.” The non-fiction book is getting good reviews from those who have read it.

“It’s wonderful,” said Janet Sare of Gessie, a former neighbor. The Hollowell boys and her grandson, Dustin Poer, now of Covington, Ind., used to play together.

“I’m proud of what he’s done with his life,” she said. “To have the courage, to go to a foreign country, and have the perseverance to stick with the guy (featured in the book) and to write the story … I’m truly amazed.”

“I knew when he was 4 years old, he was going to do something great,” Sare added.

The book tells the true story of a Moroccan doctor who was one of the longest-held POWs in world history, a victim of a forgotten war deep in the Sahara Desert of Morocco. Those Sahara sands have been long venerated by Muslims as Allah’s Garden.

The book takes a unique twist, however, as Hollowell intersperses accounts of his own life in Morocco among the chapters about the doctor’s captivity.

A publisher had suggested mixing Hollowell’s stories with the doctor’s to give people some lighter reading along the way. The book starts with the attack on the doctor’s village and ends with the author and the doctor meeting each other.

“It works … it gives people a break,” Hollowell said.

Love of travel

A 1996 graduate of North Vermillion High School, Hollowell and his twin graduated from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., in 2000. The brothers worked in Costa Rica for a short time.

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