24 November 2011, Mali. Two Frenchmen, Serge Lazarevic and Philippe Verdon, are conducting studies for the construction of a cement works. On the evening of their first day at work, they return to the small hotel where they have taken up residence.
A few hours later, armed men burst into their rooms, drag them into a pick-up and head north into the night. Serge Lazarevic is not unduly concerned - he is neither a journalist nor the employee of a large company, so of what value can he possibly be? He thinks it will all be over in a couple of days, once his kidnappers have realised their mistake.
And yet three years will elapse before he sees France again. By then, Philippe Verdon will be dead from a bullet to the brain and he himself will have endured a living hell.
With the help of Renaud Blondel, Serge Lazarevic tells not only this story but also the story of the 'second desert' he traverses when he returns to France.
After being freed on 9 December 2014, the former hostage has to deal with post-traumatic stress and the deficiencies of the French authorities, as he discovers that he has been confused with somebody of a similar name and of dubious character... The result is a harrowing and poignant account, which is nevertheless filled with hope.