Sandy Tolan, Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land (New York: Bloomsbury, 2015).
Two stories, two dreams: one realized, the other dashed.
A boy born to a fragmented, impoverished refugee family living under harsh military rule is mesmerized by the sound of a violin and vows not only to master the instrument but also to start a school to share its liberating beauty with others. And he does it.
Williamson Murray and Kevin M. Woods, The Iran-Iraq War: A Military and Strategic History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).
Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s Guantánamo Diary is a powerful indictment of the cruel regime of torture at the heart of darkness that is the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay.
Anand Gopal, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban and the War Through Afghan Eyes (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2014).
“There are no good men among the living, and no bad ones among the dead.” In the simplest sense, this Pashtun proverb is similar to the common injunction not to speak ill of the departed. In the course of Afghanistan’s long civil war, Anand Gopal writes, the saying has acquired a metaphorical meaning as well: No one is to be trusted. All alliances are temporary. The sole imperative is survival.
Matthew Huber, Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom and the Forces of Capital (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013).
“The American way of life” — is there another phrase that sounds so innocuous yet is so fraught? To most Americans, and admirers of the United States abroad, the four words evoke naught but virtue, the “values” of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that make the United States the envy of the world, for better and for worse. To critics fond of scare quotes, the term is more likely to mean runaway consumption, particularly as regards car culture, and blissful (or even willful) ignorance of the perils.
Hugh Wilford, America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East (New York: Basic Books, 2013).
Middle East scholars have long been aware of the CIA’s power and swagger in the region, yet their studies rarely mention the Agency beyond passing references, and the CIA’s role in events is seldom the primary focus of academic works. There are several reasons for this lacuna, not the least of which are the methodological obstacles to studying secret activity.
Alan Mikhail, ed., Water on Sand: Environmental Histories of the Middle East and North Africa (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
This fascinating volume provides an excellent overview of how environmental perspectives can enrich Middle East studies, thanks to contributions from leading scholars in the fields of global environmental and Middle East history. Chapters range in time from the medieval to the contemporary periods and in space from the French and Ottoman empires to the borderlands of the Eurasian steppe.
Sinan Antoon, Ya Maryam (Beirut/Baghdad: Dar al-Jamal, 2012).
Joining Ang Lee, director of the gay cowboy epic Brokeback Mountain, among the winners at the January 16 Golden Globes award ceremony was the director Hany Abu-Assad, a Palestinian born in Israel whose Paradise Now took home the prize for best foreign language film. While critics of all persuasions remark upon what Brokeback Mountain’s victory means about Hollywood and American mores, it is perhaps more remarkable that Paradise Now, a film about two Palestinians recruited to carry out suicide bombings, was deemed unremarkable enough to be honored by Hollywood.
A participant’s memoir reveals sordid inner details about the Iranian anti-Islamic Republic Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), which continues to attract the attention of regime-change advocates in Washington.