Pearl, Mariane

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PEARL, Mariane


Born in Paris, France; married Richard Pearl (a journalist), 1999 (died, 2002); children: Adam.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.


Freelance journalist. Former radio show host for Radio France Internationale.


(With Sarah Crichton) A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband, Danny Pearl (memoir), Scribner (New York, NY), 2003.


A Mighty Heart was adapted for audio (abridged; four cassettes), read by the author, Simon & Schuster Audio, 2003. Warner Brothers bought film rights to the book, to be produced by Plan B partners Brad Grey, Brad Pitt, and Jennifer Aniston.


Mariane Pearl, a French journalist of Cuban and Dutch descent, wrote, with Sarah Crichton, A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Danny Pearl. The book is a tribute to her husband, the South Asia bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal who, in January of 2002, was kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan while researching an article about Islamic extremism. Weeks later, investigators secured a videotape that showed Pearl being beheaded. The Pakistani government arrested, tried, and convicted Pearl's kidnapper, Omar Saeed Sheikh, and three others, but the case was quickly appealed.

Mariane and Daniel met in Paris in 1998, and they married in 1999. They were both based in Bombay, India when the tragedy occurred; she was six months' pregnant with their son, Adam, when her husband was abducted. Mariane and a close circle of friends pressed authorities to pursue the case. Among these supporters was Asra Q. Nomani, a divorced American Muslim of Indian extraction and former Wall Street Journal reporter who was in Pakistan to research a book on Tantric sex. Houston Chronicle reviewer Jane Mayer noted that, "to her own, and everybody's else's surprise, Nomani discovered that she, too, was pregnant, giving the nightmare an offbeat pregnant-buddy subtext. Together, these female gumshoes drove the largely hapless, and uniformly male, local authorities to dig even deeper into Pearl's disappearance. With the clock ticking ominously, they searched his computer and notebooks, retraced his cell phone records, and constructed a sprawling spider web of a diagram on their apartment wall, documenting all the Pearl contacts, suspects, and movements."

Laura Wexler wrote in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that, "even as things go from bad to worse, even after the Pakistani press prints (falsely) that Pearl is a member of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, and even after photographs of him in captivity surface, Mariane retains hope by communing with the spirits of the two men in her life: her missing husband and her soon-to-be born son. It is their spirits that ultimately help her prevail after she learns of Danny's murder." They were assisted by a conscientious Pakistani investigator and a number of U.S. officials. "The selfless camaraderie within this small, desperate entourage creates a humane narrative counterpoint to the inevitable inhumanity they will all be forced for face in Pearl's grisly murder," said Mayer.

Pearl recalls of her husband's dismay when the Wall Street Journal turned over an al Qaeda computer found by another reporter to the CIA. She writes, "When you are a journalist in a country like Pakistan, where you spend so much time trying to convince people you are not a spy, you aren't helped when the company you work for announces to the world that it is collaborating with the CIA." In fact, her husband's captors did accuse him of being a spy.

Although Daniel Pearl played it safe, for example refusing to work in Afghanistan while Mariane was pregnant, he was more vulnerable because he was a Jew, which he noted openly and which he proclaimed upon his execution. He was possibly more fearless in dealing with Islamists than would be expected because his mother, an Iraqi Jew, was born in Baghdad. Pearl had told Khalid Khawaja, a former agent of Pakistan's secret service that he was Jewish, but unknown to Pearl, the Pakistani was a good friend of Osama bin Laden. Mariane is a Buddhist, and in her book she emphasizes the positive aspects of her ordeal, especially the decent and courageous actions of those who helped her, such as the brave Pakistani counterterrorism officers who worked with her for five weeks before they received the news.

Mariane Pearl portrays her husband as a warm and happy man, charming and charismatic. While he was missing, she and the family were certain he could win over his captors. He spoke Arabic and loved Iran. "Whatever Pearl told his captors, they didn't care," wrote Jonathan Curiel in the San Francisco Chronicle. "Sheikh, who lured Pearl with a series of solicitous e-mails, showed no remorse for the crime except to say he could identify with Pearl's impending fatherhood. Sheikh is a constant, ominous presence on the pages of A Mighty Heart." Curiel noted that in Who Killed Daniel Pearl? by Bernard-Henri Levy, which was published at about the same time, the author spends about half of his book investigating Sheikh, whose family wealth provided him with a privileged English upbringing, but who hated Westerners.

Mayer commented on Pearl's "scathing treatment" of American television journalists, noting that her "account of Connie Chung simultaneously hugging her soulfully and trying to finagle an interview is classic. Worse is her description of CBS News president Andrew Heyward trying to sound 'empathetic' while insisting upon broadcasting the terrorists' videotape of Pearl being beheaded."

Following her husband's death, Mariane moved to New York. When Newsweek's Mark Miller asked her if she was satisfied with the progress of the Pakistani investigation, Pearl answered, "No. Omar Sheikh was convicted, but it doesn't take much to convict Omar Sheikh. The fact that he is sentenced to death doesn't mean he is going to die. Definitely not. We know that he is very protected within the country. And Omar Sheikh is not the only one involved."

Library Journal's Terren Ilana Wein wrote that Pearl "contextualizes her husband's murder and provides a personal window into a region, a movement, and a political arena about which most Americans know far too little."



Pearl, Mariane, and Sarah Crichton, A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband, Danny Pearl, Scribner (New York, NY), 2003.


Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 26, 2003, Laura Wexler, review of A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband, Danny Pearl, p. G7.

Booklist, September 15, 2003, David Pitt, review of A Mighty Heart, p. 182.

Columbia Journalism Review, January-February, 2004, James Boylan, review of A Mighty Heart, p. 59.

Good Housekeeping, November, 2003, Brigid O'Shaughnessy, "The Baby Who Brings Her Hope" (interview), p. 150.

Houston Chronicle, November 30, 2003, Jane Mayer, review of A Mighty Heart, p. 19.

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, September 24, 2003, Carlin Romano, review of A Mighty Heart, p. K1035.

Library Journal, October 1, 2003, Terren Ilana Wein, review of A Mighty Heart, p. 90; February 1, 2004, Pam Kingsbury, review of A Mighty Heart (audiobook review), p. 140.

Newsweek, September 29, 2003, Mark Miller, interview with Pearl, p. 61.

New York Observer, September 22, 2003, Nina Burleigh, review of A Mighty Heart, p. 24.

New York Times Book Review, September 21, 2003, Robert D. Kaplan, review of A Mighty Heart, p. 18.

Publishers Weekly, August 25, 2003, review of A Mighty Heart, p. 53; January 5, 2004, review of A Mighty Heart (audiobook review), p. 23.

San Francisco Chronicle, September 23, 2003, Jonathan Curiel, review of A Mighty Heart, p. D1.

Spectator, November 29, 2003, Caroline Moorehead, review of A Mighty Heart, p. 57.


Online NewsHour, (March 18, 2002), Jim Lehrer, interview with Pearl.*