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The Sirens of Baghdad Paperback – 5 Jun 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (5 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 818400043X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099513230
  • ASIN: 0099513234
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Yasmina Khadra is the author of more than 20 novels, including The Swallows of Kabul and The Attack, both shortlisted for the IMPAC literary award. Khadra's work has been published in 45 countries. He has twice been honoured by the Académie française, winning both the Médaille de vermeil (2001) and Grand Prix de littérature (2012).

Photo copyright E. Robert-Espalieu

Product Description

Review

"Expertly evokes an urban atmosphere of paranoia and random destruction" (Guardian)

"Remarkable...horrifying and genuinely illuminating...essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Iraq, but also an incredibly powerful piece of fiction" (The Times)

"Intoxicating, utterly thrilling. It is not an apology for terrorism, but a provocative explanation that will bring the Iraqi experience in terrifying detail to western bedside tables" (New Statesman)

"Khadra draws the moods and motives of his village lad-turned-apprentice jihadi with engrossing power... lets you taste the sand, dust and blood - and most of all, the despair... In his own unsettling way, Yasmina Khadra offers the kind of truth that only well-wrought fiction tells" (Boyd Tonkin Independent)

"A sad and important book" (Financial Times)

Book Description

A strikingly powerful novel exploring the motivations of a suicide bomber in Iraq. By the IMPAC shortlisted author of The Swallows of Kabul and The Attack.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Sofia on 12 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
Khadra, pen-name of an Algerian soldier, has already tackled life under the Taliban in "The Swallows of Kabul"; this is his take on life in present-day Iraq. Some might find it disturbing that he is neither Iraqi nor likely to have visited recently, but after the excellent 'Swallows' he is better placed than most to convey the horrors of war and hatred.

'The Sirens of Baghdad' follows a young man on the cusp of manhood from his time at University in Baghdad sharing furtive glances with a female student to his descent into the murky world of nihilistic terrorism. This is at times predictably unpleasant, but what is poignantly striking is the arbitrary nature of the events that shape and irrevocably alter his life. There is no religious fanaticism here, no great ideals, just a childlike horror at events that grows through fear and loathing to become a numb, determined yet unfocused quest for vengeance.

This is an engaging story, but it is also a worthwhile read for its depiction of the cultural assaults of war (the damaging misconceptions and ignorance of both sides), for the debate within muslim society of the correct intellectual path with the West and for its portrait of one boy's descent to personal ruin. A cautionary tale to both East and West, no doubt, but one could do worse than read this to understand a little of the horrors of present day Iraq.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Red on 5 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author takes us into the true pysche of the Arab mind in a way that only an Arab can do. In sublimely sensnsuous prose he relates the story of how the battle for "Hearts and Minds" can never be won by those who perpertrate wars where the innocents will always be the real victims.It is the story of one young ordinary peaceful man who becomes radicalised when his his family, religion and values are violated in a brutal yet all too frequent way. It portrays the real horror of the consequences of war. A must read for anyone who is really interested in the perspective of the Arab, his way of thinking and the futility of armed conflict that does nothing to ameliorate any differences rather it exacerbates them. It is also an excellent read, a page turner that will sweep you along and leave you in deep reflection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sgeoff on 15 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
A page-turner of a story of one young Iraq's life crumbling as his whole set of values are trampled on by careless and ignorant invaders. Powerful insight's into traditional Iraqi culture, and so well-written that the reader enters the world of a remote Iraqi village whose inhabitants at first pick up only glimpses of violence elsewhere after the fall of Saddam, suffers when the occupation eventually reaches that place and turns lives upside down, and experiences the hopelessness and squalor of a Bagdhad riven with violence, corruption and destruction. The best presentation I've read of Arab anger, the making of a terrorist and, importantly, the conflict within the Arab/Muslim world as to how to respond to Western arrogance and occupation. Highly recommended, not only for the fictional story but also for insights into the Middle East and the West's bungling attempts to control events there.
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