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A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb Paperback – Jun 10 2010


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 5 reviews
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
An indispensible report on the war on terror Aug. 7 2010
By lapata - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Since 9/11/01, the War on Terror has served up no major players in the attacks that occurred in the US on that day. Instead, our intelligence gathering systems have produced a string of inadept wannabes, their files released to the press as major coups in the global war. Within days of each arrest, we begin to learn that each of these characters was not the Big Bad that we were originally given to understand.

Amitava Kumar's new book zeroes in on some of these specimens of the Global War, and in fine-grained detail examines their deeds, their cases and their role in this ongoing drama. What we learn is depressing-- both for the punishments (and often torture) meted out on individuals whose crimes usually amount to talking big to the wrong people-- and for the mounting evidence that this war is in no way closer to achieving its initial goals than it was on September 12th, 2001.

Kumar's discussion is balanced (he is not always sympathetic to the subjects of his narration) and written in an engaging and accessible style. As in his previous books, Kumar mixes different narrative styles, especially reportage and memoir, and quotes at length from portions of the court documents associated with the various cases.

For anyone wishing to understand the War on Terror in greater detail than what is generally available in the press, this book is essential reading.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Humane Look at the Inhumanity and Theatre of War April 15 2011
By AZNmovieFan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Many post-9/11 and "War on Terror" books have attempted to explain the zeitgeist of the world, but most have been superficial, like Amis's and Updike's novels, or polarizing.

Amitava Kumar's book is a brilliant and very accessible transnational study of the victims on both sides of manufactured wars. Connecting imperialism, colonization, insurgency, and growing fascism around the world, Kumar carves out a book that is a deeply personal study of innocent strangers swept up and ensnared in globalized net of entrapment, racism, blind rage, and hatred. Kumar is never a distant observer; instead, he meets with almost everyone he talks about, covering events related to the "war on terror" from the U.S. to India to Kashmir. This is a remarkable book.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A nuanced and complex book Aug. 9 2010
By sepoy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Amitava Kumar's book takes the pulse of American response to 9/11 at home. His writing is at times lyrical, at times reportage but always precise, focused. He pays as much attention to himself as a subject and object as he does to the people and circumstances he is describing. In alternate chapters, he discusses the prosecution (via sting operations) of two domestic terrorism cases, the response of Indian army to Kashmir, the attempts by artists and thinkers to contextualize the domestic sphere of the global War on Terror. This is a rich, wonderfully written book, deserving of a sustained, deep reading - perhaps one of the best non-fiction treatment of the post 9/11 apparatchik.
4 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Accidental Terrorists and Other Little Guys Aug. 7 2010
By Academic - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The major point of this book is that hatred is a failure of the imagination. So along comes Amitava Kumar, cosmopolitan Indian-at-large to remedy this problem. But the failure, it seems, is Kumar's.

His book turns terrorism into a problem of brainwashed, provincial little guys, hapless entrapped merchants, and bureaucratic bunglers. He concedes that some terrorists are dangerous, but bracketing that entire issue, he concentrates on his little guys. Turns out Kumar is fascinated that one of the terrorists in the Mumbai attacks is awe-struck by the opulence of the five-star hotel in which he carries out the killings. This detail preoccupies Kumar and is offered to us as a major revelation about terrorists. What he leaves out is what horrified most others about this attack--that the terrorists used drugs to keep themselves awake so they could maximize the destruction and killing of men, women, and children, that in a huge city like Mumbai they meticulously hunted and killed members of a tiny Jewish community, that they unflinchingly killed children at point-blank range. Given the enormous moral and political complexity of the problem of terrorism, Kumar is entirely disingenuous to suggest that looking at the little guy, the accidental terrorist, we will have understood better what we confront.

I wonder if he had talked sympathetically about one of the "little guys" involved in the 9/11 attacks, instead of the Mumbai attacks, whether his book would have been reviewed in the mainstream press.
3 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Terrorist Expert? Aug. 9 2010
By bookworm - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
An English professor from Vassar as a terrorist expert? Give me a break.

If we are getting our legal analysis and "reportage" of the global war on terror from an English professor at Vassar, it shows just how bad things have become. The mainstream coverage of the war on terror has its flaws, but who can seriously say that this is an alternative? The book's claim to offering a "humane" account of the events covers over the superficiality and flawed reasoning in this book. The writing is patchy, the reasoning is flimsy, and the book is simply not worth its cost.


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