A truly disturbing work that offers a rare insight into the making of a zealot. Khadra (In the Name of God, not reviewed) is...

WOLF DREAMS

A taut and harrowing account of a young Algerian actor caught up in the political strife of the 1990s who joins a commando of Islamic guerillas.

Why, some ask these days, would anyone want to roll back centuries of secular progress in the name of theocracy and religious war? Most Muslims, though, see the question in more elemental terms. Young Nafa Walid, for example, simply got fed up with the corruption of the secular authorities in his native Algeria. A small-time film actor who never got his big break, Nafa worked as the chauffeur for a rich Algerian family whose members alternately insulted and pampered him—and eventually asked him to cover up a murder. Disgusted, Nafa left them and tried to find peace by returning to Islam. At the mosque, he became acquainted with members of an underground movement called the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), which sought to overthrow Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) in order to establish an Islamic government. Hesitant about becoming involved, Nafa agrees to drive a taxi owned by the FIS but tries to keep clear of political entanglements. He later agrees to be a courier, and later still (after his father is murdered by FLN police) joins the maquis (underground guerillas) and takes part in assassinations and kidnappings. An innocent but not a dupe, Nafa comes to his radicalism gradually, and the great virtue of Khadra’s account is that it makes Nafa’s descent into partisan violence fully credible and even largely sympathetic. The ending is predictable, of course, but the author depicts it with the same power and tension that informs the rest of the story.

A truly disturbing work that offers a rare insight into the making of a zealot. Khadra (In the Name of God, not reviewed) is the pseudonym of Mohammed Moulessehoul, a former officer in the Algerian army.

Pub Date: June 30, 2003

ISBN: 1-902881-75-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Toby Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2003

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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