Dining with Al-qaeda: Three Decades Exploring the Many Worlds of the Middle East

Overview

An Oxford-educated scholar of the Middle East and a former foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, Hugh Pope lived and worked in two dozen countries throughout the region. Following in the footsteps of Sir Richard Burton and Lawrence of Arabia, Hugh Pope's explorations of the people, politics, religion, and culture of Islamic nations shows there is no such thing as a monolithic "Muslim World." His probing and often perilous journeys—at one point he is forced to quote Koranic verse to argue against his ...
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Dining with al-Qaeda: Three Decades Exploring the Many Worlds of the Middle East

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Overview

An Oxford-educated scholar of the Middle East and a former foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, Hugh Pope lived and worked in two dozen countries throughout the region. Following in the footsteps of Sir Richard Burton and Lawrence of Arabia, Hugh Pope's explorations of the people, politics, religion, and culture of Islamic nations shows there is no such thing as a monolithic "Muslim World." His probing and often perilous journeys—at one point he is forced to quote Koranic verse to argue against his being murdered by a top al-Qaeda leader—provide an eye-opening look at diverse societies often misportrayed by superficial reporting and "why they hate us" politics.

With U.S. foreign policy under President Obama aiming to engage more constructively with Muslim nations, this lyrical and often poetic voyage is one of the truly important books of our times.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An enjoyable chronicle of a rich life's work." —-Kirkus
Publishers Weekly
The 30 years Pope (Sons of the Conquerors) has spent living and traveling in the Middle East, from a 1980 visit as an Oxford student through a decade-long stint as a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, color this reflection on the region's recent history. Moving back and forth through time in vignettes set in Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia, this fascinating memoir of his career tackles subjects as varied as the sexual attitudes of Middle Eastern men, the murder of Daniel Pearl, the Iraq-Iran War, and the poetry of the mystic Persian poet Hafez. The text has a loose episodic structure that sometimes feels desultory, though it does end with a series of chapters that focus on Iraq in the years before and after the American invasion. The author's writing is journalistic but imbued with the author's personality and long involvement in the region—he decries uncritical American support for Israel and the West's tendency to treat Islam and Muslim cultures monolithically. Pope's exquisite photographs accompany his vivid panorama of the region. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Pope (former staff correspondent, Wall Street Journal; Turkey Unveiled) is an Oxford-educated scholar who has worked and lived in the Middle East. Using a storytelling style and avoiding theoretical clichés and confusing jargon, he presents everyday life in the Middle East to general readers, introducing the nuances of Middle East culture, politics, and society in the first few chapters of the book. He then delves into a detailed description of his own travels and explorations in key parts of the Middle East. He also discusses the process of state formation and the rise and persistence of authoritarian dictatorships in parts of the region as well as the broader issues of effective governance there. The final five chapters cover Iraq, both during Saddam Hussein's regime and after the U.S. invasion and occupation. Ultimately, the choice of title is perplexing: with the exception of a brief talk Pope had with an al Qaeda operative in Afghanistan, this book has nothing explicitly to do with al Qaeda. VERDICT This is a highly readable and informative book, recommended for interested general readers so long as they understand that it has a misleading title.—Nader Entessar, Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile
Kirkus Reviews
British journalist Pope (Sons of the Conquerors: The Rise of the Turkic World, 2005, etc.) shares deeply engaged dispatches from the Middle East hotspots he visited during his long career. The author organizes the narrative topically around the big stories he covered as a journalist in the Middle East. The son of a scholar of ancient texts and a "handsome Englishwoman of the indefatigable school," Pope was studying Oriental languages at Oxford and became enthused with the romantic idea of becoming a Middle Eastern journalist in the style of Times correspondent Robert Fisk, "so close to the action, so clear in [his] moral vision"-however not overly concerned with factual precision. The author first got a job at the Egyptian Gazette in Cairo, embellishing news out of a sense of perverse boredom. He became a stringer in Turkey for the Independent in 1991 when the Gulf War broke out, before being expelled for something written by Fisk. Pope subsequently worked for the UPI in Syria covering the Palestinian crisis of the early '80s; Reuters in Lebanon and Afghanistan at the time of the Soviet withdrawal of 1989; and the Wall Street Journal, serving as the Middle Eastern reporter in the '90s based in Istanbul, until 9/11 abruptly challenged his sense of invulnerability. The author is a charming writer, intensely sympathetic of the Arabic people he moves among and eager to make known their voices, especially in terms of their resentment of imperial powers and Israeli aggression. In between his newsmaking interviews with Yasser Arafat, young King Abdullah of Jordan, an al-Qaeda operator in Saudi Arabia and a Taliban ambassador in Kabul, Pope offers intimate glimpses inside the Arab world,including his study of the beloved medieval Persian poet Hafez as a means to help decipher Iranian political rhetoric. An enjoyable chronicle of a rich life's work. Agent: Farley Chase/Waxman Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400166510
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/29/2010
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: MP3 - Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Hugh Pope, a former staff correspondent for the Wall Street Journal covering the broader Middle East, is the author of Sons of the Conquerors and the New York Times Notable Book Turkey Unveiled.

Paul Boehmer graduated with a master's degree and was cast as Hamlet by the very stage actor who inspired his career path. He has worked on Broadway and extensively in regional theater, and has been cast in various roles in many episodes of Star Trek. Paul's love of literature and learning led him by nature to his work as a narrator for audiobooks, his latest endeavour.

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