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The True American

Murder and Mercy in Texas
Narrated by: Anand Giridharadas
Length: 11 hrs and 34 mins
Categories: Bios & Memoirs, Criminals
4 out of 5 stars (247 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Love this book!

Excellent book with an inspiring and timely work about immigration, overcoming adversity, and building a positive community of forgiveness.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

What an inspiring story in a selfish country

in this country full of selfishness, it's rare to forgive to this extent. great lesson

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • Pensacola, FL, United States
  • 09-03-15

moving sad story

very much worth a credit. racism and hate eventually give way to forgiveness and beauty.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • TM
  • 12-11-14

Worthy Listen

Any additional comments?

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Loved the story! life changing!

i loved this story and the narrator was awesome! the book actually made me cry, but some of the back stories were irrelevant, although mind altering!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, lackluster but well spoken narrator

There was never emotion in the narrators voice. This was especially world breaking when it was clear the character was sobbing, but the narrator spoke as if normal conversation. I realize that isn't a theatrical reading, but it would have been nice for a bit more expression. Besides that the narrator was well spoken with very clear annunciation and attempted accents very lightly here and there.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Don't Miss This Compelling, Redemptive Important Tale

"The True American: a Story of Mercy and Murder in Texas" is a must read (or listen). If you enjoy well written nonfiction with an unexpected, archetypal, epic quality, a truly remarkable protagonist, an antagonist who is deeply, tragically and fatally flawed. If you find cultural critique interesting and worth considering I urge you to add this book to your library. If you are taken aback by the evidence of nativist, populism regaining strength and currency in the US and Europe, don't miss this book. If the post 9/11 reality has left you fearful and unclear about Islam, or if a suggested ban on Muslim immigrants appeals to you or someone you know, even slightly this book is one worth reading. If you have survived a heinous crime and wondered if it is possible to want to be alive; If you have an opinion about Capital punishment either way; or if you have come to believe the American Dream is a cruel myth, read this book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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US AND THEM

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Respect

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Daryl
  • Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 04-07-15

Imporetant moving read

What did you like best about this story?

I enjoyed the intertwining stories, what made these two men take the paths they did.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

Any additional comments?

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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Suzy
  • 09-30-18

Modern day life lessons

I have to admit, I found the book slow going at times, but then I was listening while decorating, so wasn't giving it 100% attention. And I think this book is one that needs concentration. It starts with a crime - a man with racist views kills, and in one case attempts to kill but the victim survives. The narrative then follows the lives of perpetrator and survivor, jumping back a lot to fill in the story of their lives before the crime. The story then changes a gear and we follow forward, through the legal system and themes of forgiveness and atonement, change and kindness. I found this section to be most interesting. Whilst it's just a portrait of a few lives on the surface, I think every reader can take life lessons from it. The narrator which is also the author, was fantastic. I just felt with a different structure in the early part and an hour or two less listening time, this would have given better focus. I do however recommend.