The Accidental Terrorist
Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary
by William Shunn
Release date: 10 November 2015
Finalist for the 2015 Association for Mormon Letters Award
“This just may be my favorite true-life amazing-but-true talenever has threatening an aircraft been funnier or more thought-provoking.”
Nineteen-year-old Bill Shunn is a man on a mission—a Mormon mission, that is, trolling for converts door-to-door a thousand miles from home. This riveting memoir—by turns hilarious, provocative, and thrilling—traces his accidental journey from that humble beginning to hunted fugitive and international terrorist.
A seventh-generation Mormon, steeped since birth in the gospel according to Joseph Smith, Shunn yearns to lose himself in the solace of sincere belief. But with his few close friendships, his dreams of writing, and his very life on hold, he can’t help resenting the imposition of missionary service and the monastic lifestyle it demands.
When conflicts with his fellow “elders” spur him to an ill-fated flight for freedom, the stage is set for the ultimate showdown between obedience and agency. Like the charismatic prophet Smith—whose own incredible story casts eerie echoes through Shunn’s—the young missionary will brave arrest and incarceration in a desperate bid to prove his worthiness, not just to those around him but to himself.
Now, with hard-won wisdom and compassion for his younger self, Shunn recounts the harrowing pilgrimage—rife with good intentions, noble ideals, and deep-seated insecurities—that pushed him to places stranger than any fiction. A gripping chronicle of slow-motion disaster that unfolds with the inevitability of Greek tragedy, The Accidental Terrorist is also a testament to individual triumph in the face of overwhelming authority.
“The book grabs you on page one and never lets go. Fantastically written, beautifully paced, The Accidental Terrorist reads like a novel instead of a memoir. Only in novel form, no one would have ever believed these events could have happened. Believe it. William Shunn lived every word of this book. That he can share it so eloquently is a tribute not just to his writing skill, but his strengths as a human being.”