David Ignatius is my new favorite writer. This book was a fascinating story, made more so by recent events surrounding Stuxnet. Several of his books have made me think we're getting the real deal.
The story takes us into the heart of the Vatican, where Allon is restoring a Caravaggio. It wends its way through the trade in illegal antiquities and ends with a dramatic climax in Jerusalem. I felt as if I were there. The characters were sophisticated and interesting. It's an easy story to stay interested in.
George Guidall is a fabulous actor, giving different voices to different characters,expressing the mood perfectly. He has a great voice. We listen to audiobooks on long auto trips, and we need to have a great narrator to keep our interest up over the hours on the road.
Hanif has caught in a witty and wonderful way the way things work in Pakistan (how do I know? Well, he's caught my stereotypes). Since many of the characters are real (I heard about General Kheanni on TV today, he was a Major in the book) and many of the events are real, the reader can pick up some of the recent political history of Pakistan. And American diplomacy.
I think I would have enjoyed reading the book, but the narrator, Paul Bhattacharjee, is obviously a skilled actor, giving different voices and accents to the various characters, and I was especially captivated by his portrayal of the Americans in the book.
Anyway, at the start of the book I was wondering if we would just get endless amusing description and portrayal of famous Pakistanis and Americans, and if anything would ever happen, but the story picked up speed and I was hooked until the end. I hope Hanif brings us more stories.
For the uninitiated, this is a good introduction to the perils of growing up in an orthodox Jewish household. I have to admit I didn't find his adult life as interesting as his childhood, possibly because the subject has been well covered by the likes of woody Allen and others, but still it was an interesting, funny book.
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