My Holy War: Dispatches from the Home Front
  • Alternative view 1 of My Holy War: Dispatches from the Home Front
  • Alternative view 2 of My Holy War: Dispatches from the Home Front

My Holy War: Dispatches from the Home Front

by Jonathan Raban
     
 
Ranging from Seattle to Cairo, from the high seas to the US presidential campaign, Raban brings a distinctive and often unexpected perspective to the issues facing post-September 11 America.

What does the "war on terror" and a new era of religious ferocity look like to an Englishman living in the Pacific Northwest? Jonathan Raban finds, as he reads the

Overview

Ranging from Seattle to Cairo, from the high seas to the US presidential campaign, Raban brings a distinctive and often unexpected perspective to the issues facing post-September 11 America.

What does the "war on terror" and a new era of religious ferocity look like to an Englishman living in the Pacific Northwest? Jonathan Raban finds, as he reads the source texts that have inspired modern-day jihad, memories of his own adolescent atheism help him understand why young people suffering from cultural alienation and moral uncertainty turn to a backward-looking version of Islam to help them resist the upheavals of modernity.

Raban reflects on the Bush administration's manipulation of the threat of terrorism to undermine civil rights. In diagnosing what has gone wrong in the Iraq war, he emphasizes the US failure to understand the history of the Middle East, and explains the region's shifting and complex loyalties of religion and ethnicity. He traces the continuing support for a disastrous war to the legacy of American Puritanism: the tendency of Americans to be inspired by a religious fervor oblivious to history and reason. And he explores the increasing polarization of American politics, as exemplified by the issues that he has seen divide his urban from his non urban neighbors in the Northwest.

Editorial Reviews

John Leland
In the course of these 17 essays, offered chronologically as an amateur's diary, this confidence gives way under a president who declares every setback a victory. The rationalist in Raban gradually relinquishes the "benign illusion that facts will out, that if you expose a created reality to the corrosive drip of hard news it will eventually rust away." What kind of wormhole have you entered, Raban wonders, when the alternative to being afraid of what the government tells you is to be afraid of what it isn't telling you? "The whole business," he writes, "is wonderfully, invulnerably circular."
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Seattle-based British author Raban eloquently argues a by now commonplace premise throughout these 15 previously published political and cultural think pieces, autobiographical reflections, book reviews and travelogues: that the Bush administration's bellicose unilateralism abroad and burgeoning security state at home were neither the necessary nor best response to the attacks of 2001. Rather, the administration capitalized on an exceptional moment of national unity to take the country down a dangerously antidemocratic, Manichean path that wedded widespread religious faith to a right-wing imperial agenda. As a potent prose stylist and keen observer of the American scene, Raban charts with rare luminosity the changes and widening fissures in American society from 9/11 through 7/7 (as the 2005 London subway bombings were instantly branded), which makes revisiting even topics like Howard Dean's presidential race worthwhile. Several thoughtful and compelling chapters grapple, meanwhile, with the largely Western and entirely modern origins of Islamist extremism, drawing on Raban's demonstrated familiarity with the Middle East (Arabia: A Journey through the Labyrinth) and careful perusal of both the English-language Middle Eastern press and a sampling of jihadist Web sites. Amid a plethora of works on American domestic and foreign policy post-9/11 by journalists, academics, policy makers and government insiders, Raban's contribution will inevitably seem, at times, limited or redundant. But the book's defense of reason over militant irrationalism, resting as it does on the author's formidable talent for insight and analogy, will inspire readers with the underlying issues at play in this dizzying, event-crammed historical moment. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590171752
Publisher:
New York Review Books
Publication date:
11/09/2005
Series:
New York Review Books Collections Series
Pages:
193
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.57(h) x 0.68(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >