Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam's Holiest Shrine

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More About This Book

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780141034065
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 8/28/2008

Meet the Author

Yaroslav Trofimov
Yaroslav Trofimov
Yaroslav Trofimov, a staff foreign correspondent of The Wall Street Journal since 1999, has extensively reported from Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries. He is also the author of bestselling nonfiction books.


Yaroslav Trofimov was born in Kiev, Ukraine, in July 1969, and spent his childhood on the African island of Madagascar before moving to New York to study journalism and political science at New York University.

In 1999-2007, Trofimov traveled all over the Middle East as a Rome-based roving staff correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. A speaker of Arabic, he extensively reported from Saudi Arabia and from the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. He described these experiences in Faith at War: A Journey on the Frontlines of Islam, from Baghdad to Timbuktu. This book of nonfiction reportage, published in 2005, was long-listed for the Lettre Ulysses award for literary journalism and selected as one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post.

A vivid description of the 1979 takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam's Holiest Shrine and the Birth of al-Qaeda was published to great acclaim in 2007. Trofimov continues his journalistic career as an Asia-based roving correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, reporting in-depth stories about religion and social change in a region that stretches from Indonesia to Pakistan.

Author biography courtesy of Random House.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Yaroslav Trofimov:

"I was born into a totalitarian society, albeit a deeply corroded and crumbling one -- and so the natural reaction, instilled in me by my parents, was to be deeply skeptical of authority and to question assumptions. This happened to be a crucial skill for my journalistic and writing career, in countries as diverse as Saudi Arabia, Tunisia or Bangladesh."

"In that world, where some of the best books were banned, it was also natural to treasure the written word - and literature had an immense value that's hard to understand today. I still remember how my classmate had lent me an illicit, almost illegible photocopy of Mikhail Bulgakov's "Master and Margarita" in the 1980s - and how I spent a whole night typing up my favorite passages on my grandfather's vintage typewriter."

"I was lucky to have sent much of my childhood in Africa, on the island of Madagascar, where my father taught at the local university. But, after that, it was back to the USSR, a country where foreign travel was still the rarest of privileges. It's probably because of this childhood shock of finding myself entrapped again within the Soviet confines that I still suffer from uncontrollable wanderlust, spending my life in planes and crossing every border I can."

"The biggest pleasure that I can derive is from scratching my itch of curiosity -- finding out things that were not public before." On unwinding: "Nothing beats a few days of diving in the deep blue sea. The words disappear under water, and primeval instincts kick in."

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 29, 1969
    2. Place of Birth:
      Kiev, Ukraine
    1. Education:
      BS Equiv, Kiev Institute of Economics, 1990; MA, New York University, 1993

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