Former Hostage Thomas Hamill Signs Book Deal

Mississippi dairy farmer Thomas Hamill, the only American hostage to escape his captors in Iraq, signed a book deal with a small Mississippi publisher of wildlife books and hunting guides to tell the story of his ordeal.

Publisher Jay Langston of Stoeger Publishing in Brandon said that there would be an initial printing of 210,000 books scheduled for release October 15.

"The retail hardcover price will be $24.95,'' Langston said. "Tommy chose us over dozens of bigger publishers. It's an exclusive deal. The book will reveal details of Tommy's story that have never seen the light of day.''

Hamill was driving a fuel truck in Iraq for a Halliburton subsidiary when his convoy was attacked on April 9. Hamill's right arm was wounded in the ambush.

Two American soldiers were abducted from the convoy. One was found dead a few days later. The other was recently executed by his kidnappers who videotaped the killing.

Hamill was held prisoner in a farmhouse 50 miles north of Baghdad. He managed to escape on May 2, running half a mile until he met American soldiers on patrol.

Mississippi wildlife photographer Paul Brown, a frequent contributor for Stoeger's company, sent Hamill "some coffee table books I wrote including one called Conserving Wild America. Tommy loves the outdoors and when we talked we found we had a lot in common, particularly our faith in God.''

Brown said that Stoeger had to obtain a release from Halliburton in order to interview Hamill. Halliburton did not return calls asking for comment. Hamill was driving back from a family vacation in Texas and could not be reached for comment.

Stoeger is a subsidiary of a New York-based firm that sells firearms and hunting guides.

"We're small but we have excellent nationwide distribution at Wal-Marts and Barnes & Noble,'' Langston said.

Langston would not give details of his deal with Hamill but said that Hamill will get a flat fee for signing the deal plus a share of royalties.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)