3. The general insisted on taking _______ as he did not trust the defeated leaders.
a. hostages b. captives
'a' is certainly correct. But does 'b' necessarily wron? Since the expression 'take captives' means 'keep somebody as a prisoner' we may also choose 'b'. Am I right?
I would say that both could be correct, depending on the rest of the context. "Prisoners" would work also. If one digs into the text, however, one could make the following assumptions.
1. There is a war or at least an attempted coup.
2. The general won, as the (other) leaders were defeated.
3. Since "trust" is mentioned, one could presume that the other leaders surrendered and promised to put down their weapons.
4. The general doesn't trust them to keep his word.
If this is a war, and the General won, he can certainly take prisoners or captives. I don't know why he would need "hostages". Even if he took captives to insure that the leaders on the other side would keep their word, I don't think they would be properly called hostages. If this is a coup, captives/prisoners could more properly be called hostages. This gets a bit tricky.
4. This gentleman must have stayed in New Zealand for quite a long time, the way he talks about it.
I don't quite understand the grammar. I know 'the way' can be followed by a clause. In other words it can serve as a conjunction. Should we say '.....a long time. The way he talks about it shows the fact'?
Well, "the way", in this case, is a bit of an idiom. It is missing the preposition "by" or "considering". Making it a new sentence is not necessary, IMO