I simply cannot believe that I am the first person to review this awesome collection. It reflects on the aftermath, 10 years later, of 9/11 in the prime targets for revenge, Iraq and Afghanistan and explores the Arab Spring, airline security and Somalia. Some stories are about and by US army veterans trying to reintegrate back home. Some regret having gone, others feel they do not fit in today's US, miss the old comradeship and want to return to battle.
War victims are also given space. Afghan warlords reacted quickly to offers of $5.000 for any Taliban caught, condemning many innocent men to a long stay in Guantanamo after being tortured elsewhere. A Moroccan, UK-based cook states his case after suffering 3 years of solitary confinement there. So does his lawyer, who explains his client is bi-polar and was temping in a Chelsea restaurant at the time of his alleged crimes in Afghanistan. But it was there where his client was captured, so...
Nuruddin Farah's story is an extract from his new novel "Crossbones" in which a Minnesota-based Somali exile begins a search for his son. The father fears he has joined the extremist Shabaab in a Somalia he has trouble understanding or surviving once he arrives.
Anthony Shadid provides a history of the once nation-building, now defunct Baghdad College, established in 1932 by US Jesuits, using its yearbooks and interviews with surviving staff and students as source material. Amazing piece of history.
Tahar Ben Jelloun portrays with great empathy the poor Tunisian fruit seller's state of mind before setting himself on fire, which sparked the Arab Spring and pays respect to an unknown Egyptian, picked up because the police needed a quick confession from someone for something. He died within hours. Two examples of callousness by Arab regimes' poorly-paid police forces.
Every report and story in this issue is deep, incisive and instructive. Buy it, borrow it, read it from start to finish.