K's Reviews > Son of Hamas

Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef
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's review
Mar 29, 2011

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bookshelves: memoirs, israel, readablenonfiction
Recommended to K by: Chani Garb
Read from March 27 to 29, 2011

What the heck do I do with this book?

Initially Mosab enraged me. The author's perspective as a Palestinian engaging in gratuitous acts of violence toward Israelis as a child and painting the Israelis as the big bad bullies was infuriating, especially in light of the recent murder of a three-month-old Israeli baby by Palestinians, not to mention a bomb just a few blocks away from me targeting innocent civilians at a bus station going about their business.

But then Mosab writes about his offer from the shin-bet (Israeli secret police) to work for them as an infiltrator, and how he originally accepted this offer with the intention of sabotaging the shin-bet but ultimately switched sides, still pretending to be Hamas to his friends and family but reporting everything to which he was privy to his Israeli bosses. During this time the author also converted from Islam to Christianity.

Is this for real? How was the author not afraid to write his story and put his name to it? Ayaan Hirsi Ali needs bodyguards 24/7 and this guy's fine? I suppose it's not impossible, but I did find it hard to believe.

I found it interesting that this book seemed to be written at a second grade level, especially since the author apparently hired someone to help him write it. Maybe the hired hand thought it would sound more authentic if the book was written in telegraphic ESL speech, but I think it's a little odd to hire someone to help you sound like a foreigner.

All in all, I don't know what to make of this book. Mosab's transition from angry Palestinian to Benedict Arnold turncoat/loyal shin bet mole seemed a bit abrupt and superficial to me. As a Jew living in Israel it's pretty clear where my sympathies lie; it's always validating to hear about someone rejecting your enemy and joining your side, and many of Mosab's statements about peace and Israel were gratifying to hear, especially considering where he was coming from. I just wish I found his story more credible.
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Reading Progress

03/27 page 31
11.0% "This book is making me quite angry. Maybe not the best reading choice shortly after a terrorist bombing a few blocks away from me, near a bus my kids often take."
03/28 page 160
56.0% "I just don't know what to think. The fact that it's written at a second-grade level makes it a fast read, at least."
08/23 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Petra X I thought this book was just the sort of thing BBC News listeners would enjoy - justifying their point of view in a fairly literate and intelligent way. Also not betraying, just like the BBC, that whatever facts there are, their importance depends on their propaganda value and the unimportant are simply discarded as unworthy of presentation.

message 2: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K "Literate" isn't a word I would use to describe this book, which was written on a second grade level. But I definitely agree propaganda abounds when it comes to this topic and it's hard to separate the facts from the myths. In the author's defense, though, no one in this book came out particularly well; as one goodreads reviewer said, the book casts plenty of blame all around and doesn't vilify or idealize either side.

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