"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.
Reviewed by: John
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.