The Sirens of Baghdad, originally published in
But, of course, time would bring the war even to a village as remote as his, and direct contact with the violence of war turned him into someone convinced that there was only one worthy goal left to him in his lifetime: revenge on the people who destroyed his way of life and, most importantly, dishonored his family in perhaps the worst way imaginable to an Iraqi Bedouin like him.
First he was stunned to witness the shooting of a retarded villager by American troops who mistakenly believed the man to be trying to escape from them at a roadblock. Only a few days later, even before he could recover from the shock of that death, an American missile struck a nearby wedding celebration, killing a number of women and children. But those events alone were not enough to turn him from student to avowed terrorist.
He reached his own personal tipping point when American troops searched his home and, in the process, almost inadvertently managed to dishonor and disgrace his family by the way they treated his father. The former student knew that revenge for a disgrace of this magnitude required blood to be spilled, and he immediately walked out of his village and made his way back to
As the narrator tries to connect with terrorist organizers who can use his willingness to die for the cause to their advantage, The Sirens of Baghdad describes life in occupied Baghdad through the eyes of others like him, men and women whose only purpose in life has become to maim and kill as many Westerners as possible before they die in the effort. What Khadra describes is a vivid portrayal of the dangers, intrigues and frustrations faced by American and Iraqi soldiers and those working with them to stabilize the country.
Although Yasmina Khadra does not attempt to justify what either side in
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