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Jill Ruddock

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Ours are the Streets
Ours are the Streets
by Sunjeev Sahota
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Young Man's Journey, 13 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Ours are the Streets (Paperback)
The story of a young Pakistani man, Imtiaz, born and brought up in Britain who becomes radicalised during a visit to Pakistan / Afghanistan and becomes a suicide bomber. It's written in the first person in the form of a letter to be given to his family after his death. Some elements of Imtiaz's journey are clear, well explained and convincingly written using northern dialect and lots of detail. His ordinariness is striking as is the banality of his existence. He lacks drive, energy, ambition and is fearful, afraid to speak his mind, is reluctant to stand out from others and very self conscious. He doesn't feel any strong sense of belonging and doesn't really join in with his peers. He is embarrassed about his father's lack of material success and his humility and acceptance of disrespectful behaviour. But then what happens in Pakistan / Afghanistan is less explicit and less clear and this lack of detail undermines the credibility of the supposed transformation and prevents the reader from really understanding the emotional, political or religious journey. How was he chosen? Did he "choose" himself? Why did he wait so long to commit the final act? Would someone in his position have accepted Charag's defection as calmly as Imtiaz seems to have done? Towards the end did he experience a breakdown resulting from the pressure to act? Who was Tarun? In common with another reader I propose to read it again to see whether I can achieve greater clarity second time around.

Carlo Pisacane's La Rivoluzione: An Alternative Answer to the Italian Question
Carlo Pisacane's La Rivoluzione: An Alternative Answer to the Italian Question
by Richard Mann Roberts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars La Rivoluzione - some thoughts, 16 Jan. 2011
What an interesting guy this Pisacane seems to have been. I wonder why he's never been translated into English before. Well done to Mr. Roberts for having unearthed such a treasure trove of thinking and taken the trouble to translate Pisacane's eerily timeless thoughts. His thoughts on religion will resonate with any present day reader of Dawkins; the points he discusses about nationality are pertinent today as we seek to understand how ethnicity and geography combine to define national identity; the interdependency of European states described in his writings seem particularly relevant as the domino effect of the debt crisis sweeps Euroland and beyond, he believes in power at local level with local communities being the foundationon which to build a strong and united nation, in other words he could be describing The Big Society and localism. Mr. Roberts can also be congratulated for a thorough but very accessible account of Pisacane and his life. The introduction is lengthy but necessary to provide the context for the writings themselves and an advance sense of the character before moving to the workings of his mind. It is simply and clearly written and has pace. The translation also has pace and clarity and it succeeds admirably in conveying the complex ideas being put forward. At the start of the book Mr. Roberts declares it is intention to "make the road to discovering an alternative vision of a united Italy more accessible to the English reader" - well in my book he has certainly been successful in his endeavour. For the sake of english appreciation and understanding of Italian history and political philosophy we have to hope that this first book will not be Mr. Roberts' last.

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