Ms. Ferraris crafted a compelling, engrossing mystery novel while giving a layered snapshot of life in Saudi culture. I both really enjoyed the mysterMs. Ferraris crafted a compelling, engrossing mystery novel while giving a layered snapshot of life in Saudi culture. I both really enjoyed the mystery and the author's character development (of both male and female characters) and reviled the suffocating pet-like "life" allowed women. ...more
The late Benazir Bhutto discusses Islam, its compatibility with democracy, its relationship with the West, and what can be done to bring about peacefuThe late Benazir Bhutto discusses Islam, its compatibility with democracy, its relationship with the West, and what can be done to bring about peaceful "reconciliation" and progress therein.
While I admire Bhutto's courage, intelligence and dedication to her country and to bringing progress and democracy there during her administrations (despite these efforts being marred by charges of corruption - I cannot really speak to that), I cannot help but think that she was a bit naive in her faith that Islam is compatible with democracy (as I understand it), that the rift between the Moslem and Western worlds can actually be resolved. That said, I appreciate what she tried to do in the book & found it a good read. It's a shame that she can no longer pursue those intentions.
One last note: it took me awhile to read this book, probably because I knew how her life ended. That seemed to be (whether the assassination was religiously or politically motivated) an on-the-ground refutation of her thesis....more
Princess, by Jean Sasson is the life story of a Saudi princess as told to an American journalist. It details the dysfunction, hypocrisy and imposed inPrincess, by Jean Sasson is the life story of a Saudi princess as told to an American journalist. It details the dysfunction, hypocrisy and imposed inertia of the royal family in general, and depravity of some members in particular. Most of all, it describes the gilded but treacherous cage in which royal women are forced to live, and the vulnerability of all Saudi & foreign worker women in the Kingdom.
On a personal note, if I thought the Saudis were a bunch of troglodyte degenerates before, this book only reinforced that impression. There are some passages in the book that I’ll never forget although I’d just as soon purge those scenes from my brain. Princess “Sultana” (through Sasson) tells a compelling story and there’s plenty of sympathy to be had there. Some criticize Sultana’s narrative, though, saying that Saudi Arabia isn’t like that anymore and her story doesn’t apply to all Saudi women, blah, blah, blah. I say she was just telling her own story as a royal woman living under those specific rules. She also states that if change is going to happen, it would be provoked by middle class women, thus declaring that there are differences in society dynamics. Definitely worth a read – to get an idea of this particular Saudi’s life – and to better appreciate one’s own. ...more
I read Soldiers of God at the same time that I read The Bookseller of Kabul (for book club) and found Soldiers to be an enlightening companion read beI read Soldiers of God at the same time that I read The Bookseller of Kabul (for book club) and found Soldiers to be an enlightening companion read because while Bookseller focused on one family in Kabul, its interpersonal dynamics, and how religion and culture affected its members, Soldiers gave a broader view of various groups and their political and personal dynamics in Afghanistan. Also, both books were written by Western journalists, which gave the books a somewhat similar (though by no means identical) perspective on Afghanistan, although differing in scope.
Specific to Soldiers, I enjoyed Robert Kaplan’s story telling (part travelogue, part reportage), his ability to gain access to some very insular groups, and his obvious desire to present them and their goals as accurately as possible. It was compelling reading for me as I knew little about the country, its myriad elements and history. ...more
Another in the Islam-in-various-cultures genre is Minaret, by Leila Aboulela , which we also read for B/C. It’s about a well-off Sudanese woman who imAnother in the Islam-in-various-cultures genre is Minaret, by Leila Aboulela , which we also read for B/C. It’s about a well-off Sudanese woman who immigrates with her family to Great Britain after a change in government involves the execution of her father. This young woman is university educated, speaks fluent English and is very capable, has a mom and relatives who are also educated, and very liberal by Moslem standards, but…that’s really where the story begins. I really enjoyed this book and as a B/C selection is really a stronger choice than Swallows of Kabul, also reviewed here. In fact, this last Friday evening, the book came up at dinner with a fellow B/C member and friend – months after we discussed it at B/C – and we had a really good secondary discussion about it. Indicating to both of us, that this was a really good book because it had so many layers and elements to pick apart, if you will. Read it with your own B/C or with a friend and see if it doesn’t provoke some quality discussion and reaction to the characters. ...more
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, is just a fantastic book. My husband’s aunt had recommended it to me (thanks, AJ!) awhile ago and since then, numThe Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, is just a fantastic book. My husband’s aunt had recommended it to me (thanks, AJ!) awhile ago and since then, numerous others have recommended it to me as well. I finally had a chance to read it and was blown away. One of Hosseini’s strengths as a writer is that he’s a very effective and engaging story-teller. What’s more, his characterizations are wonderfully complex: his characters are layered, faceted, flawed, compelling, nasty, selfish, brutal, redeeming, sympathetic and sometimes lovable. He also gives us glimpses into elements of Afghan culture that we wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
To wit, The Kite Runner revolves around a certain defining kite flying competition (and the events that occur therein). The story deals with the relationships between both master and servant, and two best friends at the same time. It’s a story about the lack of courage and loyalty, and yet the possibility of redemption for nearly unforgivable wrongs. Hosseini draws you in and the 400 pages just fly by. If you haven’t already done so, go read it!...more
Oriana Fallaci is very angry and that comes across loud and clear in her second book of a three book series, The Force of Reason. So loud and clear thOriana Fallaci is very angry and that comes across loud and clear in her second book of a three book series, The Force of Reason. So loud and clear that I had to literally put down the book several times before finishing it because that anger was so infectious. For those uninitiated, Oriana Fallaci was an Italian journalist who wrote The Rage and the Pride as a response to 9/11. She’s noteworthy because she was equally unapologetically pro-American and unequivocally blunt (read: un-PC) about her feelings toward Moslems in general and what she saw as their deleterious effects on Western civilization in particular.
To tell you the truth, while I found The Rage and the Pride to be a breath of fresh air with a European’s staunch support for America and its ideals, her unvarnished feelings toward those who perpetrated the 9/11 atrocities and her sense of the dangers ahead with this demographic (young male Islamists), I found The Force of Reason just ragingly angry and as DH (Dear Husband) Jeff says, “a book-length blog rant.” Now, keep in mind that while many of her assertions and warnings parallel my own, I am uneasy with what her prose evokes in me.
All in all, I’d give this work a B or B- for the reasons above and the fact that Fallaci provided no citations for her historical assertions or quotes....more
In Because They Hate, Brigitte Gabriel describes her idyllic childhood as a Christian in Lebanon and her teen years spent with her aged parents in a bIn Because They Hate, Brigitte Gabriel describes her idyllic childhood as a Christian in Lebanon and her teen years spent with her aged parents in a bomb shelter there during hostilities between Lebanon & Israel in the 1970s. She describes her perception of the destruction of her birth country by Moslems.
She makes the case that Islam is an extremely acquisitive ideology with world domination in mind – not peaceful coexistence. Gabriel goes on to advise us about threats to western civilization and culture, and specifically to our (U.S., she’s an American citizen now) country – and what our response should be to fend off that threat.
I first heard about her on Michelle Malkin’s blog, [http://www.michellemalkin.com], and a link to a U-Tube video of her giving a speech at Heritage Foundation or American Enterprise Institute (I'm not sure which & I can't seem to find the link - bad girl!). Wow. She’s a really powerful speaker and dynamo. It’s also gratifying to hear a naturalized citizen so fully embrace our country and furthermore, become an activist in its preservation and protection: Gabriel started an organization, the American Congress for Truth ([http://www.americancongressfortruth.com/]) to do just that. This book is an extension of those efforts and a warning to all who value our freedom and security. Compelling read! ...more