Author: Souad Mekhennet
Title: I Was Told to Come Alone
Narrator: Kirsten Potter
Publication Info: Tantor Audio (2017)
Note: I received a free copy of the audiobook for this work through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program.
This is the memoir of Souad Mekhennet, a journalist raised in Germany but whose parents are from Turkey and Morocco. Inspired by All the President’s Men, Mekhennet goes to journalism school and enters into the business just as the September 11th attacks change the way a woman of Islamic heritage will be received in Europe and the United States. She covers the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the rise of Al Qaeda and Isis, and the major terrorist attacks in Germany, France, and England. She gains unique access to meet jihadists face to face for interviews, goes into war-torn Iraq, visits the Islamic communities in European cities where the attacks on Paris were planned, and helps people mistakenly captured by the CIA. It’s an interesting life story and offers a unique perspective of the past 20 years from someone is both western and Muslim.
Recommended books: Baghdad without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia by Tony Horwitz
The topic of this week’s Decode DC is the worst decision ever made by the United States Supreme Court. Korematsu v. United States validated interning Japanese-Americans during World War II, and has never been overturned. With the idea of surveillance and internment of Islamic-Americans under discussion in the 2016 election, a lot of people are asking if this Supreme Court decision could allow it to happen again. The discussion here is alternately chilling and reassuring.
Title: Where God Was Born
Publication Info: HarperAudio (2005)
Feiler’s book is a unique combination of travelogue, history, theology, and personal growth. Feiler documents his journeys to Israel, Iraq, and Iran to visit the sites of places mentioned in the Hebrew scriptures. There’s a lot of interesting discussion of the Israelites and the connection to land, but how the religion was born only once they were taken from the land. There are also hints that the Babylonian captivity was not as bad as depicted in the bible. Feiler also has an interesting take on David, the flawed hero, who spent many years as a bandit and even collaborated with the enemies of Israel. Perhaps the most remarkable part of the book is when he worships with a Jewish community in Iran who have a surprising amount of religious freedom, something Feiler traces back to the Persian king Cyrus who liberated the Israelites from captivity. He also traces Zoroastrian influences to the Abrahamic religions to this period. In the end, Feiler finds in the Bible a blueprint for religious tolerance and understanding that could be followed today.
Author: Lawrence Osbourne
Title: The Wet and the Dry
Publication Info: New York : Crown, c2013.
I received this book through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program.
I selected this book expecting whimsical travel adventures seen through a drinking glass. I forgot that alcohol is a depressant. The author Lawrence Osbourne comes from a family of alcoholics and has recently lost his mother. He spends a lot of time in various parts of the world isolated in bars merely drinking. A particular challenge for him his to find places to drink in the Islamic world, which seems to be as tedious for him to pursue as it for the reader to see described. While he has some interesting observations on the drinking culture (or lack thereof) in the places he visits, much of this work is inward facing. And to be frank, Osbourne seems like an unpleasant person so it is a difficult read.
Recommended Books: A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage and Baghdad without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia by Tony Horwitz