Alfred White, a London park keeper, rules his home with a mixture of ferocity and tenderness that has estranged his three children. But family ties are strong, and when Alfred collapses on duty one day, they rush to be with him. His daughter';s partner, Elroy, a black social worker, is brought face to face with Alfred';s younger son Dirk, who hates and fears all black people, and the scene is set for violence, forcing Alfred';s wife May to choose between justice and kinship. This groundbreaking novel takes on the taboo subject of racial hatred as it looks at love, hatred, sex, comedy and death in an ordinary British family. 'The White Family points to new directions in British writing. Full of power and passion, as well as somte timely warnings, this is one of the year';s finest novels, and it deserves the widest possible readership.'; Literary Review 'Intensely touching, full of ironies, situational and verbal, [and] brilliantly connected with contemporary society.'; Financial Times 'The White Family tackles an unspeakable subject with quiet courage. Beautifully written, it tells the complex story of racism from the point of view of the perpetrators. The result isan astonishing examination of the changes, complexities and difficulties at the heart of a multi-ethnic suburban community.'; The Big Issue 'A transcendent work, splitting open a family to bare the rough edges of prejudice, self-righteousness and petulant self-justification that we all recognise. The words of James Baldwin resonate throughout: «Books taught me that the things that tormented me the most were the things that connected me to everyone who was alive and who had ever been alive.'; Daily Telegraph 'Gee';s book is bold because of her willingness to write about the living, shifting present. An unashamedly contemporary novel - a millennium novel, if you like - that embraces the ideological and emotional chaos of our times. ' The Independent 'Skilful structure and tender, precise prose.'; The Observer 'Picking up where Toni Morrison leaves off, Gee reminds us that racism not only devastates the lives of its victims, but also those of its perpetrators. Like Eugene O';Neill, Maggie Gee moves skilfully between compassion and disgust.'; TLS 'Elegant style and an expert ear for dialogue . courageous, honest, powerfully real and not a little disturbing.'; The Times 'Full of good writing.'; The Spectator 'Maggie Gee is one of our most ambitious and challenging novelists.'; The Spectator 'The White Family is an audacious, groundbreaking conditionof- England novel which tilts expertly at a middle class fallacy that racism is something «out there", in the football terraces or the sink estates . Finely judged and compulsively readable.'; The Guardian 'Outstanding . tender, sexy and alarming.'; Jim Crace 'A brilliant depiction of British society.'; Bernardine Evaristo
This volume offers a comprehensive discussion of the contemporary debates within political Islam, providing an in-depth analysis of the specific movements, countries and regions in the Arab world and Israel. The contributors contend that the evolution of Islamic movements is contextual rather than ideological. Therefore, Islamic movements are best understood individually within their own historical, socio-political and cultural setting. Political Islam is an essential reference for academics, researchers and the media, as well as general readers with an interest in Islamic political debates. Contributors include Abdullah Baabood, Youcef Bouandel, Abdelwahab El-Affendi, Kamal Helbawy, Roel Meijer, Ibrahim Moussawi, Tariq Ramadan, Tilde Rosmer, Murad Batal al-Shishani, Sara Silvestri and Camille Tawil. '[Hroub's] work on Hamas is exceptional . a lucid, informative and extremely valuable introduction to this complex organisation.' Sara Roy, Harvard University
How do you become a writer, and why? Maggie Gee's journey starts a long way from the literary world in a small family in post-war Britain. At seventeen, Maggie goes, a lamb to the slaughter, to university. From the 1960s onwards she lives the defining events of her generation: the coming of the Pill and sexual freedom, tremors in the British layer-cake of class and race. In the 1980s, Maggie finally gets published, falls in love, marries and has a daughter -- but for the next three decades and beyond, she survives, and sometimes thrives, by writing. This frank, bold memoir dares to explore the big questions: success and failure, sex, death and parenthood -- our animal life. 'A wise and beautiful book about what it feels like to be alive -- I really loved it' Zadie Smith 'Exceptionally interesting and brave ... a wonderful book' Claire Tomalin 'A fine, honest, complex portrait of an artist's mind' Michele Roberts, Independent 'Every word strikes like a hammer on an anvil, throwing off sizzling sparks' Bidisha, The f word 'Anyone who yearns for that lost post-war Britain would do well to read this vivid, minutely observed memoir ...Gee has a sensuous eye for detail' Sinclair McKay, Telegraph 'It is a testament to Gee's skill with structure, her lightness of touch and her honesty, particularly about the most painful episodes, that she has fashioned this account of a fundamentally satisfying and happy writer's life into such a page-turner.' Melissa Benn, New Statesman 'Magie Gee writes with such courage and wit. This is a vivid portrait of a woman finding her way through the maze of class ridden post war England, the 60's, feminism and how to be a mother and a writer.' Diana Melly 'Highly recommended for all aspiring writers' Bernardine Evaristo 'Observant, honest and sensitively-written...' Michael Holroyd 'Fresh and funny ... with a zest for living that bounces off the page...' Psychologies 'Sensitive, honest, courageous, stylish' The Times '[Gee's] utterly compelling on the rollercoaster of writing life, from early success to rock-bottom rejection. Often joyous; infinitely wise; passionate and poised, this is a book you'll want to sit in silence with and hug to yourself -- then start again.' Daily Mail
President Bliss is handling a tricky situation with customary brio, but after months of ceaseless rain the city is sinking under the floods. The rich are safe on high ground, but the poor are getting damper in their packed tower blocks, and the fanatical 'Last Days' sect is recruiting thousands. When at last the sun breaks through the clouds Lottie heads off to the opera, husband Harold listens to jazz and their ditsy teenage daughter Lola fights capitalism by bunking off school. Shirley takes her twin boys to the zoo. The government - eager to detract attention from a foreign war it has waged - announces a spectacular City Gala. But not even TV astrologer Davey Lucas can predict the extraordinary climax that ensues. 'Gripping, original and highly entertaining - Maggie Gee at her superb best.' J G Ballard 'Dazzling ... alternately lyrical and austere ... unbearably touching.' The Observer 'Eloquent, angry and beautiful ... her best book yet.' Hilary Mantel 'The Flood is Gee's most apocalyptic vision to date ... an incredible feat of sustained imaginative continuity.' The Guardian 'A Must-Read Book for 2004.' Daily Mail ' ... an addition to an eccentric but valuable tradition of English fiction ... in which the visionary and the mundane mingle, producing effects by turn comical and grand.' Sunday Times 'Gee's ability to ask big "what if?" questions while never losing sight of the humdrum details of life ... gives her un-brave new world credibility.' The Independent '...xhuberant ... I thoroughly enjoyed it.' Sunday Telegraph 'The Flood, for all its passion and intricacy, is also a very funny book ... rewarding ... carefully written, using language echoing the water that ebbs and flows, and eventually floods the pages.' TLS ' ...a rare writer who is willing to address issues topical to contemporary Britain' Daily Telegraph 'A playful apocalypse.' The Bookseller ' ... a surprising melange of fantasy, realism, and very dry humour' Big Issue ' ... startling, insidious imagery' Metro 'Gee's admirably dyspeptic and frequently funny novel is a wake-up call to us all' Mail on Sunday 'Acutely drawn characters, and subtle observations about relationships and nature.' Time Out 'A satirist this lyrical, warm-hearted and imaginative is, like a unicorn, a rare and precious beast.' Weekend Australian
The Arab-Israeli conflict goes far beyond the wars waged on Middle East battlefields. There is also a war of narratives revolving around the two defining traumas of the conflict: the Holocaust and the Nakba. One side is charged with Holocaust denial, the other with exploiting a tragedy while denying the tragedies of others. In this path-breaking book, political scientist Gilbert Achcar explores these conflicting narratives and considers their role in today';s Middle East dispute. He analyzes the various Arab responses to the Holocaust, from the earliest intimations of the genocide, through the creation of Israel and the occupation of Palestine, and up to our own time, critically assessing the political and historical context for these responses. Achcar offers a unique ideological mapping of the Arab world, in the process defusing an international propaganda war that has become a major stumbling block in the path of Arab-Western understanding. 'A magisterial study of breath-taking empathy, examining one of the most painful and emotion-laden topics in the modern world with dispassion, sensitivity and high erudition'; Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, Columbia University 'An erudite, perceptive, and highly original study'; Avi Shlaim 'A fascinating, subtle and original analysis of Israeli and Arab historical narratives'; Simon Sebag Montefiore, BBC History Magazine 'This exhaustive survey of Arabic sources is particulaly important in correcting the many distortions circulated by polemicists seeking to paint Arabs and Muslims as anti-Semites.'; Eugene Rogan, Times Literary Supplement 'A refreshing and original study, showing clearly that Muslim anti-Semitism is neither universal, nor inevitable, nor subject to pat explanations.'; The Economist
The sharp increase in oil revenues since 2002 has left the Arab Gulf States with billions of petro-dollars. But how will these countries fare in the post-oil era? The rulers of these states are taking serious measures to ensure the survival of their economies, and indeed their regimes, in a world with scarce mineral resources. This volume explores the extent to which these countries have been and will be able to prepare for the future by transforming themselves into serious international destinations for tourism, finance, healthcare and education. It also considers the implications of failure for the future survival of their regimes. This study will provide food for thought for academics, policy makers and general readers. 'An incisive enquiry into an exciting region, the authors leave no stones unturned. It is bold in its examination of both the history and the crucial changes being wrought throughout the Gulf. The book, which has been fashioned with both detailed knowledge and academic rigour, will be of huge advantage to anyone seeking a practical chart to the region. The contributors have not been restrained in drawing examples of the Gulf States over-reaching themselves to danger points in the economic downturn. The severe lessons learned have been studiously researched. The fresh opportunities, political, economic, social and technological, are concisely considered. No matter where your interests lie, this is a solid foundation from which to build a 'Way Ahead' policy for the region.'Charles Wilson, Director of The Consultancy, an international human resources business with Gulf experience
The hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, is a religious duty to be performed once in a lifetime by all Muslims who are able. The Prophet Muhammad set out the rituals of hajj when he led what became known as the Farewell Hajj in 10 AH / 632AD. This set the seal on Muhammad';s career as the founder of a religion and the leader of a political entity based on that religion. The convergence of the Prophet with the politician infuses the hajj with political, as well as religious, significance. For the caliphs who led the Islamic community after Muhammad';s death, leadership of the hajj became a position of enormous political relevance as it presented them with an unrivalled opportunity to proclaim their pious credentials and reinforce their political legitimacy. Exhaustively researched, The Meaning of Mecca is the first study to analyse the leadership of the hajj in the formative and medieval periods and to assess the political subtext of Islam';s most high-profile religious ritual.
The Caucasus has an extremely rich folk literature, almost unknown among English speakers, which includes myths, legends, magical tales, anecdotes and proverbs. The one hundred and one legends included in this book reflect the cultures of fourteen different ethnic groups - their dynamism and the matters that concerned them: survival against external dangers, the risk of starvation and the persistence of the family or clan as a coordinated group. Descended from an oral tradition, much of their knowledge was retained in memories and passed down the generations. Yet, with the introduction of the alphabet, the way of life they portray is rapidly becoming extinct. An incomparable collection, Legends of the Caucasus conveys the poetry and romance of these swiftly vanishing tribes. 'This book has brought into light some of the hidden treasures of the Caucasus . A major contribution not only to the study of the Caucasus, but also to world folklore.'; John Colarusso, McMaster University, Canada 'Inventive and meticulous in rendering the extraordinary folk poetry of the many nations of the Caucasus . [This is] essential reding for anyone seeking an insight into the cultures of the Caucasus.'; Donald Rayfield, Queen Mary University of London, UK
Lebanon today is at a fateful crossroads in its eventful socio-cultural and political history. Imperiled by unsettling transformations, from postwar reconstruction and rehabilitation to the forces of postmodernity and globalism, it remains adrift. In this landmark study, Samir Khalaf explores how ordinary citizens, burdened by the consequences of an ugly and unfinished war, persisting regional rivalries, mounting economic deprivation and diminishing prospects for well-being, find meaning and coherence in a society that has not only lost its moorings and direction, but also its sense of control. Khalaf argues that a mood of lethargy and indifference prevails, with a growing tendency for the Lebanese to seek refuge in religiosity, communalism and cloistered spatial identities, or temporary relief in the allure of mass consumerism. 'Timely and provocative . Samir Khalaf offers an empirically rich and theoretically broad survey of Lebanese society.'; Craig Larkin, University of Exeter 'Samir Khalaf is the foremost scholar writing on Lebanese politics and society today. This book re-affirms his stature with its keen observations, eloquent prose and impassioned arguments about the escapist and narcissistic maladies afflicting postwar Lebanon.'; Akram Khater, North Carolina State University 'A skilled sociological reading of contemporary Lebanon by a master of the discipline.'; Augustus Richard Norton, Boston University and University of Oxford
Vanessa Henman, a plucky but accident-prone white writer, flies from London to Uganda for an African writers'; conference. She also means to visit her former cleaner, Ugandan Mary Tendo, now the successful Executive Housekeeper of Kampala';s up-market Sheraton Hotel. But Mary has her own agenda: her son Jamil is missing, and she has secretly summoned Vanessa';s beloved ex-husband Trevor, a plumber, to her home village to build a new well. Vanessa sets off alone on safari to distant Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to see the mountain gorillas. But she quarrels with her driver and a bloody war closes in on Bwindi from Congo. Can anyone save her? Will Mary Tendo find her son? 'One of her strongest novels to date.fast-moving, energetic, constantly surprising'; Hilary Mantel 'Maggie Gee has never written better'; Rose Tremain 'A tour de force - brilliantly structured, surprising, humane, and suspenseful'; Elaine Showalter 'Brilliant.just brilliant.this book deserves to be published in every language'; Hillary Jordan 'Executed with a lovely, light touch ... an immensely enjoyable novel.' Lionel Shriver, Daily Telegraph 'Worldy, witty, enjoyable, impressive' Doris Lessing 'Sparky, funny and terrifically entertaining' Guardian
It's the middle of the twenty-first century, and the next Ice Age has suddenly sent global warming into reverse. Saul is one of the Ice People, the threatened peoples of the northern hemisphere, who, watching their world freeze over, try to move south towards the equator... 'Excellent ... intelligent, driven, imaginative, obsessive yet still gracious, one of our best ... Exciting stuff.' Fay Weldon 'Ambitious and subtle... She writes elegantly, unsentimentally, expertly... The Ice People works persuasively as science fiction, and is truthful about our emotional lives.' Independent 'Infused with poetic intensity ... this is a gripping fictional realisation of what we fear: the death of civilisation. Maggie Gee achieves her apocalyptic vision without the clank of hardware and intergalactic wars. Her detail is precise and controlled and her beautifully orchestrated whisper of redemption is rooted in eternal myth.' Elizabeth Buchan The Times 'An intriguing novel of ideas, fully fleshed out ... Classy science fiction.' Mail on Sunday 'A remarkable novel... up there with Orwell and Huxley.' Jeremy Paxman 'A gem of a book.' Rose Tremain 'A rattling good page-turning yarn.' George Melly 'A fantastic book' Mariella Frostrup
On his way to a linguists' conference in Helsinki, Budai finds himself in a strange city where he can't understand a word anyone says. One claustrophobic day blurs into another as he desperately struggles to survive in this vastly overpopulated metropolis where there are as many languages as there are people. Fearing that his wife will have given him up for dead, he finds comfort in an unconventional relationship with the elevator-operator in the hotel. A suspenseful and haunting Hungarian classic, and a vision of hell unlike any other imagined. 'With time, Metropole will find its due place in the twentieth-century library, on the same shelf as The Trial and 1984.' G.O. Châteaureynaud 'In the same way that Kafka becomes relevant again every time you renew your driver's license, Karinthy captures that enduring, horrifying and exhilarating state of being at the mercy of an unfamiliar land.' NPR
Sex and Punishment tells the story of the struggle throughout millennia to regulate the most powerful engine of human behaviour: sex. From the savage impalement of an Ancient Mesopotamian adulteress to the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde for 'gross indecency' in 1895, Eric Berkowitz evokes the entire sweep of Western sex law. 'I don't think I've ever read such an entertaining historical work. Whether you want to fuel your indignation, or simply furnish yourself with enough jaw-dropping data to galvanise a hundred party conversations, you really must shell out for this book. It's worth every penny.' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian 'A wonderful exposure of the illogicality of so much legislation that attempts to regulate sexual activity ... from the age of consent to adultery and sex on college campuses.' Mary Beard 'A fascinating and gruesomely compelling study of human sexuality' Mail on Sunday 'Eric Berkowitz's cross-examination of human sexuality is both exciting and impressively relentless.' Sunday Times 'Stimulating . Berkowitz has achieved a perfect balance between case study and analysis, and between narrative and reflection. . This is a wonderfully well-written, well-organised and accomplished book.' Sarah Wheeler, Literary Review The cast of Sex and Punishment is as varied as the forms taken by human desire itself: royal mistresses, gay charioteers, medieval transvestites, lonely goat-lovers, prostitutes of all strpes and London rent boys. Each of them had forbidden sex, and each was judged - and justice, as Berkowitz shows - rarely had anything to do with it.
European and Arab versions of the Crusades have little in common. For Arabs, the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were years of strenuous efforts to repel a brutal and destructive invasion by barbarian hordes. Under Saladin, an unstoppable Muslim army inspired by prophets and poets finally succeeded in destroying the most powerful Crusader kingdoms. The memory of this greatest and most enduring victory ever won by a non-European society against the West still lives in the minds of millions of Arabs today. Amin Maalouf has sifted through the works of a score of contemporary Arab chroniclers of the Crusades, eyewitnesses and often participants in the events. He retells their stories in their own vivacious style, giving us a vivid portrait of a society rent by internal conflicts and shaken by a traumatic encounter with an alien culture. He retraces two critical centuries of Middle Eastern history, and offers fascinating insights into some of the forces that shape Arab and Islamic consciousness today. 'Well-researched and highly readable.' Guardian 'A useful and important analysis adding much to existing western histories . worth recommending to George Bush.'; London Review of Books 'Maalouf tells an inspiring story ... very readable ... warmly recommended.' Times Literary Supplement 'A wide readership should enjoy this vivid narrative of stirring events.'; The Bookseller 'Very well done indeed ... Should be put in the hands of anyone who asks what lies beind the Middle East's present conflicts.' Middle East International
When protesters in Egypt began to fill Cairo';s Tahrir Square on January 25, 2011 and refused to leave until their demand that Hosni Mubarak step down was met the politics of the region changed overnight. And the United States'; long friendship with the man who had ruled under emergency law for thirty years came starkly into question. The Road to Tahrir Square is the first book to connect past and present from Franklin D. Roosevelt';s brief meeting with King Farouk near the end of World War II, to Barack Obama';s 2009 speech in Cairo, and the recent fall of Mubarak offering readers an understanding of the events and forces determining American policy in this important region. Making full use of the available records, including the controversial WikiLeaks archive, renowned historian Lloyd C. Gardner shows how the United States has sought to influence Egypt through economic aid, massive military assistance, and CIA manipulations an effort that has immediate implications for how the current crisis will alter the balance of power in the Middle East. As millions around the world ponder how the Egyptian Revolution will change the face of the region and the world, here is both a fascinating story of past policies and an essential guide to possible futures. 'When it comes to understanding the tangle of contradictions addling present-day US policy in the Arab world, Lloyd Gardner has become our most astute guide. This compact, timely, and altogether admirable study is hs best yet.'; Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War 'This book is a clear, concise, and insightful account of Egypt';s long decline, focusing on both the mistakes of its own leaders and the ignorant meddling of outside powers.'; Stephen Kinzer, former New York Times correspondent and author of Overthrow: America';s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq
Since its emergence in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has remained a conundrum for observers, particularly in the West. Shi'ism and the Democratisation Process in Iran examines the fundaments of Iran's Islamic governance and asks the pivotal question: can democracy and Islam cohere?Addressing Wilayat al-Faqih, or rule by the jurisprudent - the theory upon which the Islamic Republic was constructed - he asserts that the system upholds both individual and communal rights, and provides scope for citizens to express their interests. Moussawi draws on the history and theological underpinnings of Shi'i Islam to argue that in today's Iran, politics and religion are neither rigid nor in diametric opposition.
Exhaustively researched, Shi'ism and the Democratisation Process in Iran marks an invaluable addition to the growing oeuvre of books on Iran.
The Arab world';s strategic location and its considerable material and human potential should allow it to play a major role in world affairs. However, in addition to sharing language, culture and history, Arab states also face common challenges: authoritarian regimes, ethnic and social cleavages, economic underdevelopment, and the need for security from the West. Hassan Hamdan al-Alkim examines the dynamics of Arab foreign policy-making in the twenty-first century, taking account of the current political developments in the Arab world since January 2011. Through an insightful analysis of pivotal issues such as the Middle East Peace Process, the food and water crisis and Saudi Arabia';s foreign policy, Alkim brings us closer to a nuanced understanding of contemporary Arab politics and its role in world affairs. This balanced and discerning study is essential reading for policy-makers, academics and students of Middle Eastern politics. 'This is an authentic critique by a committed Arab intellectual not only of the weakness of Arab states in the regional and international realms but also of the authoritarian regimes that dominate most of the Arab world.'; Gregory Gause III, Professor of Political Science, University of Vermont 'Hassan al-Alkim has written a wide-ranging and thought-provoking account of the challenging issues facing foreign policy-makers in the Arab world.'; Peter Woodward, Professor Emeritus, University of Reading
In his early twenties Choukri takes the momentous decision to learn to read and write, and joins a children's class at the local state school in Tangier. When not at school he hangs out in cafés, drinking and smoking kif. Some nights he sleeps in a doss-house, but mostly he sleeps in mosques or on the street. He befriends many 'lowlife' characters, while the café habitués help him with his Arabic and the local prostitutes take him home, providing some human solace. Choukri's determination to educate himself, and his compassion for those with whom he shares his life on the streets is heartfelt and inspirational. 'As a writer, he is in an enviable position, though he paid a high price for it in suffering.' Paul Bowles 'Choukri's irrepressible, ultimately indomitable spirit is most touching and human.' The Independent 'Choukri is a powerful teller of stories. His telling of oppression is vivid and remarkable.' Morning Star
London';s Overthrow is a potent polemic describing the capital in a time of austerity at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Award-winning author and essayist China Miéville cuts through the hyperbole of our politicians to present a view from ordinary London - of the inequality, oppression and indignity and the hidden, subversive sentiment pervading throughout our streets. 'China Miéville does more than reveal the skull beneath the London';s scabby, piebald skin; he offers effervescent nourishment for the downpressed souls that stalk the streets of his divided city. Anybody who wants to know what has happened here - in the ground zero of a failed neoliberal experiment - must start with his unsettling panorama.'; Paul Gilroy 'Miéville gives us a vision of a pre-apocalyptic London, where the chasm between rich and poor has reached catastrophic levels and anger is the only reasonable response.'; Hari Kunzru
In 2011, Arab youth took to the streets in their thousands to demand their freedom. Although it is too early to speculate on the ultimate outcome of the uprisings, one auspicious feature stands out: they reveal the genesis of a new generation sparked by the desire for civil liberties, advocacy for human rights, and participatory democracy. This unique volume explores some of the antecedents of the upheavals and anticipates alternative venues of resistance that marginalized youth - from Lebanon, Syria and Palestine to Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Iran - can mobilize to realize their emancipatory expectations. Themes covered include the forging of meaningful collective identities in times of risk and uncertainty; youth militancy, neighborhood violence and youth gangs; the surge of youthful activism; and youths'; expressive outlets through popular arts and street music.
This is not a manifesto against men in general. Nor is it a manifesto against Arab men in particular. It is, however, a howl in the face of a particular species of men: the macho species, Supermen, as they like to envision themselves. But Superman is a lie. In this explosive sequel to I Killed Scheherazade, Joumana Haddad examines the patriarchal system that continues to dominate in the Arab world and beyond. From monotheist religions and the concept of marriage to institutionalised machismo and widespread double standards, Haddad reflects upon the vital need for a new masculinity in these times of revolution and change in the Middle East. 'The revolution and its backlash are not just being fought in the streets, squares and elections across the Middle East, but also on the faces and bodies of millions of Arab women and their sisters across the world. Haddad speaks for all of us. It';s time to listen.'; Bidisha 'One of the most intelligent, talented and courageous young Arab poets and intellectuals today'; Mahmoud Darwish 'The Germain Greer of Lebanon'; Independent.
Few lives reflect their times as much as the life of Abdel Bari Atwan. Born in a refugee camp in Gaza in 1950, he left age seventeen and has since become one of the world's most foremost commentators on the Middle East. In this revealing memoir, Atwan recounts with humour and honesty his extraordinary journey. He depicts both the horror of camp massacres and the unexpected consequences of Britain's involvement in the region - such as when a British paratrooper fell from the sky with his sizeable parachute and everyone in his mother's village got new silk trousers. Atwan shares his many extraordinary encounters, including tea with Margaret Thatcher, a weekend with Osama bin Laden, intimate meetings with Yasser Arafat, and the row between Colonel Gaddafi and the Shah of Iran that earned him his first journalistic break. But his is also a touching, personal story, never more so than when he describes taking his British-born children to meet his family, who still live in a camp surrounded by barbed wire. 'This portrait of the life and times of a distinguished journalist offers a penetrating insight into the world as seen from the point of view of someone born and bred a Palestinian refugee in a Gaza camp. Abdel Bari Atwan's authentic voice and sharp, descriptive writing brings alive a childhood full of life-affirming sparkle amid a lifetime spent deep in the travails of the Middle Eastern tragedy' Polly Toynbee 'Atwan's enthralling memoir charts his meteoric rise form theshoeless urchin in the 1950's to cultured commentator whose opinion is now sought all over the world ... A skilful raconteur.' Tribune Magazine
Over the last ten years, journalist and al-Qa'ida expert Abdel Bari Atwan has cultivated uniquely well-placed sources and amassed a wealth of information about al-Qa'ida's origins, masterminds and plans for the future. Atwan reveals how al-Qa'ida's radical departure from the classic terrorist/guerrilla blueprint has enabled it to outpace less adaptable efforts to neutralize it. The fanaticism of its fighters, and their willingness to kill and be killed, are matched by the leadership's opportunistic recruitment strategies and sophisticated understanding of psychology, media, and new technology - including the use of the internet for training, support, and communications. Atwan shows that far from committing acts of violence randomly and indiscriminately, al-Qa'ida attacks targets according to a decisive design underwritten by unwavering patience. He also argues that events in Iraq and Saudi Arabia are watershed moments in the group's evolution that are making it more dangerous by the day, as it refines and appropriates the concept of jihad and makes the suicide bomber a permanent feature of a global holy war. While Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri remain al-Qa'ida's figureheads, Atwan identifies a new kind of leader made possible by its horizontal chain of command, epitomized by the brutal Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi in Iraq and the bombers of London, Madrid, Amman, Bali, and elsewhere. Scholarly, analytical, objective, it is also intensely readable, being by far the bes book on the subject.'; Tony Benn 'This is a must-read book for anyone interested in understanding our increasingly scary world.'; Gavin Esler 'What shines out ... is a profound desire to investigate and reveal the truth. Intelligent and informative.' Jason Burke, Guardian 'Deeply researched, well reported and full of interesting and surprising analyses. It demands to be read.' Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc