A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb

A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb Part Reportage And Part Protest, A Foreigner Carrying In The Crook Of His Arm A Tiny Bomb Is An Inquiry Into The Cultural Logic And Global Repercussions Of The War On Terror At Its Center Are Two Men Convicted In US Courts On Terrorism Related Charges Hemant Lakhani, A Seventy Year Old Tried For Attempting To Sell A Fake Missile To An FBI Informant, And Shahawar Matin Siraj, Baited By The New York Police Department Into A Conspiracy To Bomb A Subway Lakhani And Siraj Were Caught Through Questionable Sting Operations Involving Paid Informants Both Men Received Lengthy Jail Sentences Their Convictions Were Celebrated As Major Victories In The War On Terror In Amitava Kumar S Riveting Account Of Their Cases, Lakhani And Siraj Emerge As Epic Bunglers, And The US Government As The Creator Of Terror Suspects To Prosecute Kumar Analyzed The Trial Transcripts And Media Coverage, And He Interviewed Lakhani, Siraj, Their Families, And Their Lawyers Juxtaposing Such Stories Of Entrapment In The United States With Narratives From India, Another Site Of Multiple Terror Attacks And State Crackdowns, Kumar Explores The Harrowing Experiences Of Ordinary People Entangled In The War On Terror He Also Considers The Fierce Critiques Of Post Surveillance And Security Regimes By Soldiers And Torture Victims, As Well As Artists And Writers, Including Coco Fusco, Paul Shambroom, And Arundhati Roy

Amitava Kumar is a novelist, poet, journalist, and Professor of English at Vassar College He was born in Bihar, India he grew up in the town of Patna, famous for its corruption, crushing poverty, and delicious mangoes.He is the author of Nobody Does the Right Thing A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb Husband of a Fanatic A Personal Journey through India, Pakistan, Love, a

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  • Paperback
  • 232 pages
  • A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb
  • Amitava Kumar
  • English
  • 22 October 2017
  • 9780822345787

10 thoughts on “A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb

  1. says:

    Amazing, but excruciatingly painful book to read More than anything I have read lately, Amitava Kumar describes for us the surreal world we ve come to inhabit in the last decade I loved a sentence toward the end of the book where he says So, here s my generalization a stereotype scripts the story of people s lives in a thousand defeating ways, and we owe it to all our social selves to produce new stories, with many exits, U turns, detours, and destinations While the quote speaks to stereotypes, it also speaks to the role of fiction we owe it to ourselves to produce new stories and open windows as yet tightly closed.

  2. says:

    With 56 ratings and just 9 reviews, maybe there s a reason I couldn t get through this book It s the title and the subject matter that caught my interest, and it started off pretty well too but eventually my interest petered I don t even remember any what made me put it down and never pick it up again Clearly my attempts at trying out unusual books seem to be failing royally P

  3. says:

    I took my time with this slim volume, which I recommend but don t have much to comment on I think by now, for anyone who has followed the abuses that have characterized and dogged the war on terror, nothing set forth by Kumar will be revelatory Instead, what s great here is the way he stakes out a space between journalism and cultural criticism, and the observations or conclusions he draws Mostly, he focuses on several cases linked by the usage of stings, informants, and, arguably, entrapment, centering on two in particular but expanding out to include reports from various fronts in India over the last couple decades Mumbai, Delhi, Kashmir That s another strength here, as it s in a way a comparative study of the US and India, which seem to have made many of the same shameful blunders as each other As a novelist, poet and literary critic, Kumar also holds up 9 11 inspired art again, not just American of various media to the cases and events he reports on, and analyzes the different strands that run through this growing corpus.The only other stray note I have to add is that I was impressed with the even handedness and calm that pervades the book, even when Kumar confronts the reader with the most sickening and egregious stories of legal and humanitarian abuse Perhaps it was because he actually had to interview and interact with many of the people he was writing that he did not vilify, say, the prosecuting attorneys or law enforcement folk who feature in the court cases he discusses But in particular, I think of his treatment of Anthony Swofford s Jarhead and Michael Herr s Dispatches, as well as Errol Morris and Philip Gourevitch s Standard Operating Procedure, in which he shows compassion for the American soldiers who might be fighting wars that we are opposed to and even those who have committed some of these abuses It reminded me of a discussion I had at the Jaipur Literature Festival with a young Indian, someone with whom I have a mutual friend, after a panel discussion with Rory Stewart, David Finkel and Jon Lee Anderson Stewart, funnily enough, voiced many of the same criticisms of the British and Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan that have been leveled against him, namely ineptitude and lack of expertise Finkel and Anderson tried to shy away from politics and instead focused on providing context for what American soldiers endure and experience on these tours of duty and the toll it takes on them, in an effort to humanize these people My companion was so disgusted that she actually left the panel early, and when we caught up, she explained that such an undertaking effectively ignores and absolves of the occupying powers Reporting the Occupation was the name of the panel the crimes of war It calls to mind the mirror image, provided by the late Tim Hetherington in an interview with the AV Club about his film Restrepo, in which he says that, yes, he s morally outraged by war but that such feelings get in the way of what s important to communicate that is, what actually goes on in war, what it s like to fight in it, etc To cut what might seem like a digression short, I tend to think that these two positions or approaches are not mutually exclusive both are, indeed, necessary for as full an understanding of war as is possible Kumar recognizes all this, allowing him to show compassion and complexity and to allow for what we among the admirable anti war brigade, as he terms it, often fail to grasp while also coming to a moral judgment.

  4. says:

    This is an exceptionally engaging and well written book about the War on Terror, juxtaposing counterterrorism in India with the United States, with segues into some of the cultural responses to the post 9 11 era of permanent warfare There are detailed examinations of several sting operations against young Muslim men in America, powerfully documented I appreciated this particularly, as it helps sift through the mess of broken lives created by the American response to 9 11, and which are still being created The book is very moving in its descriptions of what becomes of those accused of terrorism , whether spuriously or not It ends on a note about the true crime, hidden behind the noise and motion of the machinery of state, the industrial scale terror being inflicted on people in places like Iraq.

  5. says:

    Indian born literature professor Amitava Kumar shines an insistent light on events of the last decade that, for the most part, are easier and less painful to simply forget Focusing on the criminal process of terror from identifying suspects to interrogations through their trials, he does an excellent job of painting a complex picture of people swept up as suspects in the global war on terror Some of the stories are of innocent bystanders being tortured, even sentenced to death before being acquitted upon appeal More often in the case of Americans , the suspects have been lured into planning and sharing elaborate schemes with government informants sent into mosques throughout the US from late 2001 the roles of the informants lurk near the borders of entrapment, hanging on a judge s interpretation of their actions The picture that emerges from these is not the criminal masterminds the prosecution attempts to paint for us, but rather of bumbling, opportunistic, even materialistic immigrants attempting to bluster their way into positions of importance In this regard, as Kumar shows, they are not entirely different from the informants Indeed, a glance at the list of prominent terror suspects even those not coaxed into action by government employees shows comedic bumbling than anything else For some reason it seems generally frowned upon to regard these failed terrorists as bumblers and their successes as a rare bit of luck, but Kumar is unrelenting in examples The goal of A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of his Arm a Tiny Bomb is not to garner sympathy for accused terrorists though, certainly we feel for the Kashmiri Muslim who is picked off a bus based on a misinterpreted, vague telephone conversation while trying to deliver his PhD dissertation to the printer s, tortured and imprisoned for weeks in India until it s finally determined that he had nothing whatsoever to do with the terror attack, and then finally set free but never given back that dissertation Well, at least former grad students will feel sympathy for him The book doesn t come through as a specific indictment of torture, or overly broad surveillance, or of trying to convict people with too little evidence, though I m unsure what policy changes Kumar would recommend After all, he s a literature professor He studies culture, and teaches about the documents and literature of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks It is, however, a thought provoking, powerful work, and while it may not provide answers, it does a good job of raising the questions How many false positives are acceptable in identifying terrorists What exactly is entrapment, and what is the role of professional informants How can accused would be terrorists get effective legal counsel and a fair trial

  6. says:

    The title is perhaps a little misleading Kumar tells the stories of people affected by the US s policies regarding terrorism Some people are living in the US and are willing or naive unknowing terrorists Maybe you believe their stories and maybe you don t Kumar explores the ability of the US government to impact and ultimately destroy lives of people in the middle east, India, Pakistan etc He portrays these stories in a powerful yet relatively objective manner You read this book and then find yourself asking what else it is you do not know about the country you live in and the countries you hear about on the news that are our enemies.

  7. says:

    Intense read Really great discussion of the war on terror, what it means, and how it has changed what we care about and what we can willfully ignore Recommended Plus, the title of this book is AMAZING.

  8. says:

    Kumar s searching and humane account of the global consequences of the U.S war on terror gets behind the rhetoric and state public relations campaigns in a brisk but thoughtful narrative An arresting and heartrending work of public protest and valuable social analysis, this work contributes forcefully to a subtle, human scaled accounting of 21st century geopolitics Publishers Weekly Starred Review A perceptive and soulful meditation on the global war on terror and its cultural and human repercussions A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb carries in the crook of its own arm Mr Kumar s plaintive appeal If we re to bridge the perilous divide that separates us from those poor and unnamed people who resent us, we first need to see them, to look into their eyes We need, Mr Kumar writes, to acknowledge that they exist This angry and artful book is a first step Dwight Garner, New York Times After you read A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb , you will never look at the global war on terror in the same way again You will, also, finally know how to look at the war on terror, especially as it is fought here S tunningly researched, brilliantly thoughtful, boldly imagined and courageously executed I can t think of a urgent, important and necessary book for us this year You should rush to read it Pradeep Sebastian, The Hindu review of the Indian edition Kumar s study think Jane Mayer s The Dark Side meets Coco Fusco s protest art reveals how deeply the figure of the terrorist has seeped into our imaginations by brilliantly synthesizing straight reportage on the Mumbai blasts and the trials of two putative terrorists in New York and contemporary conceptual art s responses to he war on terror Parul Sehgal, Publishers Weekly, Staff Picks A disturbing look, in a somewhat meandering but consistently engaging tour, at part of the war on terror , in the US and abroad, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of his Arm a Tiny Bomb is a useful reminder of how wrong things have gone and continue to go wrong and if only in making readers aware of some of these issues already serves a useful purpose M.A.Orthofer, The Complete Review More than a piece of reportage, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb illuminates the dangers to civil liberties from extraordinary governmental powers and torture s questionable effectiveness Whatever one s views on 9 11 and its accompanying legal changes, the use of torture, or the war on terror, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb is a worthwhile read Kumar s perspective is one not often seen in American writings on similar subjects That alone would recommend the book the high quality of the writing should secure its place on any library shelf J G Stinson, ForeWord

  9. says:

    Such luck, such sorrow In the end, this is what it comes down to who will teach one to be modern, who will teach the other to be human These words pretty much expressed the soul of the book for me.It is not an easy read Very painful at times But it tells it like it is, no exaggeration, no drama this is what like most about Amitava Kumar s writing and yet, gets you in the gut Lot of food for thought I would highly recommend it.

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