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  • Deborah Baker - Reviews: The Convert
    then compels us to read the book as avidly as one reads a good whodunit Of course in this case it is not the question Who but Why that lies at the center As expected there is no single powerful answer Nor does Baker ask the question so crudely Placing before us any number of credible causes and explanations ranging from the personal and familial to the global and ideological she allows us to gain much from her insights while letting us come to our own conclusions It is a wise and engaging book that should generate many useful discussions in these troubled times Most importantly her book might make many readers more aware of one terrible feature of today s discourse on terrorism Presently it is as if a terrorist has only an ideology or religion that dictates her actions while the rest of us could safely use family situation peer pressure mental or psychological issues and much more to explain our actions Even the Unibomber had a psychological life but not Major Nidal Hussain In the latter s case his Muslim name explains everything Baker s book was a finalist for the prestigious National Book Award But it

    Original URL path: http://www.deborahbaker.net/friday%20times.htm (2016-05-01)
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  • Deborah Baker - Reviews: The Convert
    such story not so long ago that of Robyn Hutchinson aka Rabiah original description a beach bunny who becomes a jihadist and names her son Muhammad coming to acquire for herself the epithet Mother of Muhammad So it was with some degree of deja vu and I have to admit weariness that I approached this book I couldn t have been more wrong Baker s inquiry and investigation into the life of Jameelah is a nuanced and sophisticated study in which the author grapples as much with herself and her assumptions as she does with the character whose life she is exploring The search is made much more complicated and indeed richer and more troubled by the baggage the writer brings to the story Baker is honest about this anonymity is her vocation she seeks out unusual stories But the story of Islam of conversion exile prejudice and rock hard certainty holds a particular meaning for a non Muslim American in a post 9 11 scenario where often in the face of loss of friends and those who are close to you values such as tolerance become hard to hold on to But will this story bring the author closer to understanding what it is that motivates people to give up their lives to a particular faith what drives them to extreme action Life doesn t work quite like that and the story that emerges is a complex story of human failure of a search for meaning of exploitation and at the end there are still questions that remain unanswered For me perhaps the most moving part of this somewhat unusual detective story is the ways in which Jameelah s life holds up a mirror to Baker s own life not that the two lives are in any way similar

    Original URL path: http://www.deborahbaker.net/india%20today.htm (2016-05-01)
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