This is the eagerly anticipated third book by the phenomenal Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It lives up to expectations and then some, ending on a note of hope and a proposed solution for a future free from murderous Islamic terror. ("Extraordinary talents" that were "indispensable" for the United States of America was inscribed on Ali's visa when she entered the U.S.)
Since the publication of "Infidel" in 2007 her work at the American Enterprise Institute has been, as she describes it, "...a cross between academic work and activism." She soon discovered at AEI that learned discussions of Islam, multiculturalism, and women had been exhausted even before 9/11/01, and there was nothing original she could add to the existing volume of scholarly work.
Culturally speaking, she is 1500 years old; her intellectual life has traversed from Sixth Century Islam in Somalia to the 21st Century in the West. She states early in Nomad that her previous work, Infidel, described her experiences in escaping from Somalia to the West, but only "touched on" her "parallel and equally important mental journey." Nomad is, in large part, the telling of that parallel mental journey.
Thankfully this gifted writer has chosen to continue her autobiographical style, which was so compelling in her preceding book. Here she writes Chapters about her Father, Half Sister, Mother, Brother, Nephew, Cousins, and Grandmother. These were persons close to her that were introduced in Infidel. Their stories are continued, with Ali's genius for finding the right word for every detail of time, place and character. Always, these personal details illuminate the inner workings of Islamic culture.
At the midpoint of the book Ali includes an examination of Islamic society in terms of its three chief characteristics: sex, money, and violence. Her writing is so rigorous and concise it is difficult to describe her themes without quoting long stretches of her own work. Ali knows well the beauty and power of simple words.
In the last three Chapters and Conclusion Ayaan Hirsi Ali boldly proposes Christian proselytizing as an answer to the worldwide Islamic expansion that is taking place. She herself is a professed atheist, but understands that Muslims (and most people) need a redemptive God and belief in a higher power to provide moral guidance. She propounds an alliance of enlightened secularists with Christians to evangelize Islam, because "The Christianity of love and tolerance remains one of the West's most powerful antidotes to the Islam of hate and intolerance. Ex-Muslims find Jesus Christ to be more a more attractive and humane figure than Muhammad, the founder of Islam."
Ali's proposal that Christianity turn the tables on Islam by converting Muslims is elaborated at considerable length, but comes as a surprise and a problematic notion for this reader. But the ideas put forward in the last part of the book may be tentative and exploratory, preparing the way for exposition in this intrepid author's next work.
A brief moving Epilogue is Ali's "Letter to My Unborn Daughter." This is an imagined missive to the child that Ali hopes, one day, to have. Essentially it contains, in six memorable pages, the personal Credo of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
This review refers to the hardcover edition.