The only book by Theroux that I had read (or listened to) before was "Fresh Air Fiend" and back then I had this impression about the author that he was a little too grumpy about everything, especially when he described his trips to China. This African travel audiobook is no different: he constantly yammers about discomforts, delays, and irrationalities he experiences en route to Capetown. Still, I liked it so much not because of his grouchiness but mainly because he seriously questions the usefulness of charities and other NGO activities in Africa throughout the book. If you want to understand his point but have little time to listen to the whole audiobook, try the chapter on "The Back Road to Soche Hill School." It will give you a general idea of what he is trying to say, based on his experience as a Peace Corps volunteer 40 years ago as well as his many encounters with smug western aid workers on white Land Cruisers.
This is the second book published by a young reform-minded Islamic scholar Reza Aslan, after his more serious, better articulated one "No god But God" (2006). His latest book seems to me hurriedly written at the request of the publisher who thought the author could say one thing or two on the issues of global terrorism committed in the name of God. I enjoyed the audiobook, but it could have been much better if it had been given more time for more in-depth reflection.
This is one of the best-written books on Islam I have ever read. The author, the Iranian-American Muslim who grew up in a small town in America South, takes an objective view on the world's most controversial religion today. The greatest virtue of this book is that it's easy to read while not skipping important details in the early development of the faith. If you still feel this book is too much for you, try "Destiny Disrupted" (2009) by Tamim Ansary, which is much easier and full of interesting episodes.
Although I enjoyed the book, it is less engaging than the author's first novel, The Kite Runner. One plot weakness of A Thousand is that the part describing the bonding between the two main characters, Mariam and Leila, doesn't seem very convincing, making the rest of story development a bit artificial.
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