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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A descent into hatred, 12 April 2008
By 
Sofia (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sirens of Baghdad (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hauntinig Evocation of the Arab Pysche, 5 Nov 2011
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This review is from: The Sirens of Baghdad (Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Intense, 20 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Sirens of Baghdad (Paperback)
As usual Yasmina Khadra delivers. I had to pace myself so that i could savour each paragraph with relish. I enjoy his diverse style of writing and will continue to be an ardent peruser of his literary works
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5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful story, important knowledge, 15 Mar 2012
By 
sgeoff (North Wales) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sirens of Baghdad (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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The Sirens of Baghdad
The Sirens of Baghdad by Yasmina Khadra (Paperback - 5 Jun 2008)
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