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Tea Time with Terrorists: A Motorcycle Journey into the Heart of Sri Lanka's Civil War [Paperback]

Mark Stephen Meadows

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Book Description

April 27 2010
Armed with a map, a motorcycle, an infectious sense of humor, and a dim understanding of Sri Lanka's war, author, artist, and adventurer Mark Stephen Meadows arrives in the country intending to have, as it were, afternoon tea with terrorists. Figuring that the first step to solving a problem is understanding it, he journeys north into the war zone, interviewing terrorists, generals, and heroin dealers along the way.
He discovers an island of beauty and abundance ground down by three decades of war. As he travels north through Colombo, Kandy, and the damaged city of Jaffna, Meadows gives his riveting take on the war. Known for child conscription and drawn-out torture methods, he explains, the Tamil Tigers also invented suicide bombing and were the first to lace together terrorists and financiers into international networks of militant uprising.
In Sri Lanka, Meadows discovers a deep view into an ancient culture. Along the way, he learns to trap an elephant, weave rope from coconut husks, and cast out devils, and he actually has tea with a few terrorists. This is the inspiring story of his journey and an enlightening meditation on the interconnectedness of globalization, the media, and modern terrorism.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (April 27 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593762755
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593762759
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 15.5 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #515,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cocktail of insight, introspection, and adventure May 4 2010
By Kim Pallister - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
[cross posted from my blog]

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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new Patrick Leigh Fermor & Burton Holmes Oct. 20 2010
By Asmodean - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Mark Stephen Meadows is not a man of our times. In this incredible lucid, moving, and sympathetic book captures the very best of the world's great travel writers. Less an accounting of a journalists journey, "Tea Time with Terrorists" is a travelogue which captures the haunting shadows of the greatest literary travel writers, Burton Holmes & Patrick Leigh Fermor, and shows that there is still adventure to be had in the world.

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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tea time with Terrorsts - a review Jan. 1 2014
By Abhaya Premawardena - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I expected this book to be a good travel journal in the minimum or an authoritative book with discussions with important players during the civil war . it is neither . The reader is left guessing when this tour happened as there is very little of a timeline given and to the best of my guess it should have happened between 2002 and 2004 . The country that he speaks of or the groups he speaks of no longer exists in a metaphorical sense . While it makes a funny read at times it is quite historically inaccurate , most likely because the writer did not follow the events on the ground other than form afaronce he left . He tries to relate the Sri Lankan experience to the American war on terror and the war on drugs and actually does a terrible job of that ,. The payers that he manages to interview as at best marginal actors who have no real significance in the actual theater . He does not manage an interview with any actual LTTE high rank carders or any important players in the Govt .

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"
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeing with open eyes Aug. 24 2010
By David - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Tea Time with Terrorists crushes our stereotypes and causes us to ask ourselves the hard questions. What is a terrorist really? What do they want? And more importantly, how should we respond to such activity in order to create a world that we really want to live in. Mark Meadow's choice of Sri Lanka is brilliant, both because of the root relationship of the Tamil struggle to terrorist activity worldwide as well as its status as a "neutral" environment to study terrorism free of anti-American sentiment. The narrative is not about "dangerous tourism," rather it is about a man seeking answers to important questions, which is always a dangerous activity.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to civil war in Sri Lanka May 30 2014
By Travis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Too often in the Western world, we can be ignorant of the turmoil that plagues other countries. This book helped me dive into the civil war that wrecked Sri Lanka for the past half century. Although sometimes candid in his take on the trouble that the Tamil Tigers, the author really sought to unearth the reasons behind the actions of terrorists in this South Asian island. If you know little about Sri Lanka, this book is a helpful introduction to its recent history and culture.

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