This is Khadra's second novel about a phenomenon that mystifies so many Westerners--the educated, intelligent Arab terrorist. It speaks more directly to the point than did The Attack (2006), for its protagonist is young and motivated by ethnic traditions, not middle-aged and encumbered by Western universalist presumptions. The young man, who remains nameless as he tells his story, hails from a tiny, "backward" Iraqi village, to which he returned after U.S. bombing closed the university in Baghdad. When he is involved in an incident in which a mentally impaired man is shot to pieces by GIs, he withdraws into himself in shock, but when a missile destroys a wedding party shortly thereafter, his shell cracks, and when GIs break into his family's home and humiliate his father in a gross violation of Bedouin mores, he resolves to strike back. Wandering to and through a devastated Baghdad, he eventually accepts the task of being the self-sacrificial bearer of a weapon whose impact, its developers hope, will dwarf that of 9/11. Although the novel veers clumsily from psychological realism while set in the village to noirish ambience and thriller mannerisms in Baghdad to anguished political debate at its conclusion in Beirut

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