My Holy War: Dispatches From the Home Front

by Jonathan Raban

Hardcover, 2006

Status

Available

Publication

New York : New York Review of Books, 2006.

Description

"What do the "war on terror" and our new era of religious and patriotic ferocity look like to an Englishman living in Seattle? In what he calls an "irregular personal diary" of the post-September 11 years, Jonathan Raban explores the history and motivations of Islamic extremism and traces America's rapid shift from extraordinary unity in the wake of the attacks to deep ideological division." "In reading the source texts that inspired modern jihad movements, Raban finds that memories of his own uncompromising adolescent atheism help him understand why alienated young Muslims might turn to fundamentalist Islam. US efforts to turn Iraq into a democratic nation, he argues, have failed to grasp the region's complex loyalties of religion, clan, and ethnicity. In his analysis, the roots of the Bush administration's arrogant determination to pursue disastrous policies at home and abroad lie in the legacy of Puritanism: in a righteous, simplistic piety, joined with the iron of overwhelming military power." "Today, once-ordinary occurrences - a ship entering a harbor, a low-flying jetliner - have taken on a sinister cast. Yet, as the creeping intrusions of the "war on terror" alter the texture of daily life, Jonathan Raban points out that homeland security remains a bemusing mixture of the politically opportunistic, the theatrical, and the potentially effective. Writing from a city vulnerable to terrorism yet suspicious of how it is being protected, he brings wit, skepticism, and mordant observation to bear on all that we are now being told to consider normal as America proceeds on its vengeful warpath."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

Media reviews

In the course of these 17 essays, offered chronologically as an amateur's diary, this confidence gives way under a president who declares every setback a victory. The rationalist in Raban gradually relinquishes the "benign illusion that facts will out, that if you expose a created reality to the corrosive drip of hard news it will eventually rust away." What kind of wormhole have you entered, Raban wonders, when the alternative to being afraid of what the government tells you is to be afraid of what it isn't telling you? "The whole business," he writes, "is wonderfully, invulnerably circular."

User reviews

LibraryThing member blackandamber
Intelligence, good sense, elegance, from one of the most considered and consistently interesting observers of the modern world, and in particular America post 9/11.
LibraryThing member RavenousReaders
Collected essays from award-winning journalist Rabin, with Bush’s war on terror as the unifying theme. In one essay the author explores his own rebellious roots, and the roots of the Al-Qaeda: in the early 1960s the Egyptian poet and critic Sayyid Qutb toured America and came away with a hatred of America, a deep mistrust of the West and the treatise Milestones, the Mein Kampf of the jihad movement. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: John
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LibraryThing member pugterranian
Collected essays from award-winning journalist Rabin, with Bush's war on terror as the unifying theme. In one essay the author explores his own rebellious roots, and the roots of the Al-Qaeda: in the early 1960s the Egyptian poet and critic Sayyid Qutb toured America and came away with a hatred of America, a deep mistrust of the West and the treatise Milestones, the Mein Kampf of the jihad movement.… (more)
LibraryThing member buttsy1
What an extraordinary revelation this book was. I purchased it some years ago, and it had sat on top of my wardrobe until just a couple of days ago, but I wish I had read it back when I got it!
I also wish many of the decision-makers in the western world had taken the time to read Raban's considered arguments, who cannot be dismissed as simply being 'of the left'. There is great depth to Raban's writings (as evidenced by his various awards).
The background contained here that discusses the ad hoc decisions made years ago (mainly by the UK) as to where borders in the middle east should be, gives the reader great insight into the depth of the problem that confronts us now.
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LibraryThing member vguy
Though nothing much new in these reflections on post 9/11 America, it's always a pleasure to spend time in Raban's company. Vivid pictures, learning lightly held, insight and warmth of character. Good sketch of the alienated Muslim loner in the Western world as the archetypal extremist going back to Qutb. Their thoughts an odd mix of Right wing (Spengler, TS Eliot of the Waste Land) and Left radicalism, set in the desperate squalor of, say, Streatham High St. also how the neocon agenda is as mystical and fact-denying as the Jiadist. Hints at explanation of how US embodies both rational scientific attitude with faith-based follies. Lovely road-trip with his daughter down the West Coast Seattle to Mexico provides an idyllic relief from the contradictions and lurking violence.… (more)

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Inscribed by the author

Barcode

8768
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