Tea Time with Terrorists: A Motorcycle Journey into the Heart of Sri Lanka's Civil War Paperback – Apr 27 2010
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Advance Praise for Tea Time with Terrorists "Meadows' courage and the personal relationships he builds with the people he meets in Sri Lanka reveals the extent to which our fears are only a sign of how much we still need to learn. His warm approach and bridge-building provides an insight to civil strife that is unprecedented in other works. An excellent undertaking." --Greg Mortenson, Three Cups of Tea "'I went because knowledge is terror's strongest antidote,' Mark Stephen Meadows writes near the start of his book, and he achieves this goal well. Tea Time grants knowledge not just about Sri Lanka, but about terrorism, its genesis--a deadly serious subject, but all told in a voice as familiar as an old friend's." --Peter Allison, author of Whatever You Do, Don't Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide and Don't Look Behind You!: A Safari Guide's Encounters with Ravenous Lions, Stampeding Elephants, and Lovesick Rhinos "Meadows's journey along the razor's edge brings refreshing clarity and enlightenment. He lets you feel, smell, taste and touch Sri Lanka in its moment of tumult. A great read for those seeking more than news reports and academic analysis. Highly recommended." --Robert Young Pelton, author of The World's Most Dangerous Places and Licensed to Kill
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Finding himself in Europe when 9-11 happened, Meadows watched from the outside as our government and media conjured up a boogie-man of 'terrorist' that quickly took on a hype beyond even the events of that day. Questioning what he was being told to fear, and feeling that the best way to deal with fear of the unknown is to make it known, he decided to spend some time meeting some terrorists and finding out what makes them, well I suppose 'tick' is a poor choice of word.
After a little research he settled on Sri Lanka as his petri dish, flew down to the tourist capital Colombo, rented a motorcycle and headed north to the home of the Tamil Tigers and what has essentially been a war zone for ~30 years. The Tamil Tigers having the unique distinction of having invented suicide bombing and exporting that to other terrorist organizations.
Thus begins a very unique travelogue. It's part introspective, part narrative. A look at the horrors people can commit, and the beauty that people can find in living their lives despite this.
Mark comes off as two parts Indy Jones (playing motorcycle bullfighter with trucks, getting escorts at gunpoint, etc) and one part Mr Magoo (leaving the road to investigate a bombed out tank, only to realized he'd wandered to the middle of a minefield).
All the while he approaches his adventures with the type of drink-heartily-of-life gusto to which we should all aspire.
If you are looking for an insight into the mind of a terrorist (he meets and interviews several), a portrait of a beautiful country, or a great story of travel and adventure, this book is for you. It delivers on all three counts.
One of the good parts I enjoyed was the part about taming the elephant , I have also heard the same story during my childhod in Sri Lanka.
It leads me to to say the same thing that his French wife had to say when he undertook the journey "How very American of you"
Meadows shows us with an anthropologists sensitivity an exclusive inside look at the decades long struggle which has torn apart Sri Lanka and made international headlines. The book goes into the very soul of the issues at hand by interviewing Sri Lankans who have been deeply engaged in the conflict and understanding the impact on real people.
A highly readable and delicious adventure, "Tea Time with Terrorists" will elucidate you, inspire you, and take you on a road trip you couldn't have imagined. Highly recommended for anyone who is interested in real life literature and travel.
This book didn't end up being the impressive read that I initially expected it to be. Although I found a foreigner's Sri Lankan travel log something of an interesting novelty, there were many moments where the author's paradigm created limitations to his ability to comment on the state of the island. Throughout the book, he was an outsider looking through a window, a window composed of foggy glass. He was able to see things, but not to the point where he could flesh them out and provide us with a satisfying explanation.
Some of his historical/cultural facts and observations were either incorrect or questionable. One or two of his experiences sounded completely fabricated (from the local point of view). Its unfortunate that the misinformation Meadows encountered has found a way to spread to the rest of the world via this publication. I'm also not quite sure if he truly managed to interview anyone important, or if the people he did actually interview even took him seriously. I've had the opportunity to meet people of high caliber involved with the war, and they were much more well spoken and insightful. I'm led to believe they didn't take him seriously, hence the weak interview dialogues.
This book has its moments every now and then, and is therefore worth a quick read, but none of those moments are related Sri Lanka's culture and the recent civil war. The special parts of this book are related to other topics that are more generic.
I don't mean to sound crass, but the only people who would praise this book seriously are people who are very unfamiliar and new to the subject of Sri Lanka's recent situation..