My husband and I often disagree on politics, so I wasn't sure how it would be to drive across the country listening to a story about Pakistan, and about American involvement in the conflicts of the area. We both loved this book. We were captivated by the story and intellectually engaged by the ideas here. Gruber's characters make every argument imaginable for and against various political positions, violent and covert operations, and religious practices and they do so in ways that make it possible to regard even those characters with whom one disagrees as sympathetic.
The story is packed with philosophy, religion, psychology, anthropology, and political theory, yet it is not weighed down by them. All the talking works in this action thriller; in fact, it is hard to imagine the story or the character development without it. We have to hear from the characters in order not to dismiss them as "the other" when they do horrible things.
The book is read very well by Neil Shah. The cast of characters is as large as a 19th c. Russian novel so it's possible to be confused sometimes, and Shah maintains different voice tones and accents well so that you can recognize who is speaking.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
This is an amazing book for those of you who like literary/intellectual thrillers. Gruber has a political background and his insight into the inner workings of the fundamentalist mindset feels astoundingly real. The most unforgettable character is Sonia,a woman who ran away from her Pakistani husband and posed as a Pashtun boy in order to travel to Mecca with a Sufi master. Later in life, after a family tragedy, she becomes a Jungian analyst. In the present, she is being held hostage by the Taliban. Using her training, she interpreting their dreams and skillfully manipulates her captors.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
after reading several books re arabic stories which try to explain cultural differences, I wasn't sure I wanted to read another one, however this story is very entertaning and keeps the reader interested in what happens next. the story seems to have insight into the ailenation sometimes experienced by children raised in two very different cultures. the mother character may be an offshoot of the ancient chinese curse paraphrased into "May you have an interesting mother." the ending is a bit of fantasy but who is say that fiction cannot do that , certainly not me. I recommend it a worth the time for the story and the charactersd.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
A great, imaginative adventure story. Some necessary violence ( it is the Jihad), but most of the bad guys get there do. Some of the good or innocent are not spared pain, but it is minimal.
There are some very imaginative takes on Islam and petropolitics that I have never run across before. Great central character. A definite page turner without embarrassment.
I initially put 3 stars for the story because it strains some credulity. But I changed it to 4 stars. The author requests a little leap of imagination, and he delivers.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
As someone who spent 5 years working in the Middle East this book perfectly reflects the Arab world and Muslim culture. It also captures the failure of the average American to have any understanding of the complexity of these tribal societies. A real eye opener.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful