Imagine that a terrorist tried to kill you. If you could face him again, on your terms, what would you do?
The True American tells the story of Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a Bangladesh Air Force officer who dreams of immigrating to America and working in technology. But days after 9/11, an avowed "American terrorist" named Mark Stroman, seeking revenge, walks into the Dallas minimart where Bhuiyan has found temporary work and shoots him, maiming and nearly killing him. Two other victims, at other gas stations, aren't so lucky, dying at once.
The True American traces the making of these two men, Stroman and Bhuiyan, and of their fateful encounter. It follows them as they rebuild shattered lives - one striving on Death Row to become a better man, the other to heal and pull himself up from the lowest rung on the ladder of an unfamiliar country.
Ten years after the shooting, an Islamic pilgrimage seeds in Bhuiyan a strange idea: if he is ever to be whole, he must reenter Stroman's life. He longs to confront Stroman and speak to him about the attack that changed their lives. Bhuiyan publicly forgives Stroman, in the name of his religion and its notion of mercy. Then he wages a legal and PR campaign, against the State of Texas and Governor Rick Perry, to have his attacker spared from the death penalty.
Ranging from Texas's juvenile justice system to the swirling crowd of pilgrims at the Hajj in Mecca; from a biker bar to an immigrant mosque in Dallas; from young military cadets in Bangladesh to elite paratroopers in Israel; from a wealthy household of chicken importers in Karachi, Pakistan; to the sober residences of Brownwood, Texas, The True American is a rich, colorful, profoundly moving exploration of the American dream in its many dimensions. Ultimately, it tells a story about our love-hate relationship with immigrants, about the encounter between Islam and the West, about how - or whether - we choose what we become.
©2014 Anand Giridharadas (P)2014 Audible Inc.
A deep look at a troubling hate crime and a detailed account of the complicated aftermath.
I came away thinking that the victim was a brave and honorable man and that the protagonist was given far more attention than he deserved by both the author and some of the other folks he writes about.
I am in no way a supporter of the death penalty, and I can sympathize with those that campaign to end it. But there seemed to be a disproportionate amount of compassion and attention given to the confessed perpetrator of these crimes, beyond the ending of the death penalty itself. The people that commit that amount of time and energy to such a person surely could better direct that energy?
Well written and professionally read (by the author). An important story worth telling, but I had mixed feelings about the subject matter.
But that's probably the author's objective though, right?
Challenge your thinking.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
A deplorable habit of human nature is to classify humanity into us and them. “The True American” is a news reporter’s story of two Texas murders and one wounding of three presumed Middle Eastern people living and working in America after 9/11/01. In fact, the three victims were Bangladeshi, Indian, and Pakistani with Asian rather than Middle Eastern origins. “The True American” is the story of an incident of murder and mayhem that tests Texas’s death penalty and exposes human nature’s habit of “us and them” categorization of human beings.
The Texas’ murders are a lesser-scale recapitulation of the delusions and horror of 9/11. Though only two human beings, rather than nearly 3,000, are murdered in this Texas incident–both horrific events are motivated by delusions of revenge and belief in “us and them” categories. Anand Giridharadas’ book is about “us and them” choices human beings make every day. The year 2015 shows three examples of “us and them” beliefs in America: 1) a presidential candidate’s categorization of illegal Mexican’ immigrants as murderers and rapists, 2) a white man’s slaughter of nine Americans because they are Black, and 3) a Muslims’ murder of five men because they are American’ soldiers.
The focus of Giridharadas’ book is the maiming of Raisuddin “Rais” Bhuiyan, an aspiring American emigre from Bangladesh, who is shot in the face by Mark Anthony Stroman. Stroman murders two and maims Rais Bhuiyan, because he sees himself as a part of “us” (Americans) and his victims a part of “them” (Arab terrorists). Like a presidential candidate’s slander of Mexicans, a white man’s slaughter of Blacks, and a Muslim’s murder of soldiers in 2015, Stroman believes anyone that looks like “them” is not worthy of “us”. Bhuiyan’s life is an enemy of “us” to Stroman because he is avenging destruction of the World Trade Center in New York. To Stroman, Bhuiyan and two un-related Asians are terrorists because of the color of their skin.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
This audiobook starts off with the introduction of a Pakistani immigrant to America, followed by introducing a racist who shoots him. Going through the parallel stories of the victim's recovery and suffering as well as the criminal's legal battles, I thought it brought compassion to the criminal even though he did not deserve it.
This true story is a testimony about the things that are wrong in America, its legal system and its hate fueled media, and the mercy and forgiveness that true Islam provides.
Books read by a great narrator, or the author, are the best versions of narration. This author did a good job reading the material, and a great job of lending authenticity to the tale.
I have trouble with non fiction. The author did a good job of keeping the story moving while relating the necessary details. I wish there was a ten star system, as while I don't feel this book should be a 4, I also believe it should be higher than a three. I had the urge to get back to fiction during the first half of the book, but found myself more engaged later on.
I enjoyed the intertwining stories, what made these two men take the paths they did.
It actually made me uncomfortable. What brought these men to this place? What are their families like now? While I cannot say that I would have made the decisions Rais did, I understand the place he came from. My Christian faith also extols forgiveness.
This is an important read. It does ask more questions than it answers, but I loved it for its messiness and non-preachy look at some pretty intense topics - nature vs. nurture, religion, terrorism, patriotism...
Well worth your time and credit!
It was a delight to hear the author read his story aloud. I was struck by how much research the author must have done to write this book. It's a fascinating story. I highly recommend this book.
The story was terrible. It was hard to follow, and seemed to ramble on and on.
Not write it
I wish I could get my money back.
I listen to and have recently started to write reviews. I've found the reviews have helped me to select books.
Raisuddn Bhuiyan wanted to immigrate from Bangladesh to America. He wanted most of all, to have the freedom of a true democracy whereby you are able to make choices of your own. Raisuddn worked as an Air Force officer but truly wants to work in the field of technology. However, living in Bangladesh he had no choice in choosing his occupation.
Raisuddn settled in Texas. Raisuddn worked the night - shift in a minimart. He had a long road ahead before he realized his dream. However, he chose a path that would lead him to become successful.
After 9/11 occurred, an "American terrorist" walked into the minimart where Raisuddn worked and shot dead two customers and wounded Raisuddn. The gunman, Mark Stroman, thought that Raisuddn was also dead. However, Raisuddn played dead and though difficult, he remained still, hoping Stroman would leave. Stroman did leave allowing Raisuddn to call 911.
Mark Stroman had already killed two men at two different gas stations. He was exacting his revenge on those that looked Islamic, after the disaster of 9/11. He had lost all sense of self and was guided by hate.
Raisuddn healed from his wound and finally realized his dream by eventually finding work in the field of technology. Mark Stroman went to prison and was given the death penalty.
During his stay in prison, Mark was trying to become a better man. Raisuddn forgave Mark soon after the attack had occurred. In fact, Raisuddn took up a rigorous campaign to prevent Mark from being put to death.
The American dream was realized by Raisuddn and he did become an American citizen. Mark Stroman was born an American and gave away his opportunities of freedom.
The narrator did a good job. The true story of Raisuddn wanting and succeeding to become an American was admirable. The characters of Raisuddn and Mark were well developed. America has been a melting pot for the people of the world. There will always be a difference of how American's choose to accept immigrants or not. However, we have to remember, just because a person does not look American, they could have born in America because of the immigration of one or both of their parents.
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