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.
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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