13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A descent into hatred,
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.