Monday, November 24, 2008

Angry Wind: A Book Review

Since 9/11 and what I saw as the current occupant's gross misinterpretation of the Muslim world which manifests into hate mongering by the neo-conservative side of politics to this day, I have wanted to learn more about their culture. Jeffrey Taylor's book on boating down a river in Siberia brought his name to my eye and another book of his entitle Angry Wind soon was added to my bookshelf.

Angry Wind is a chronicle of a two month trip across the Sahel region of Africa through the countries of Chad, Niger, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal. These countries encompass some of the most destitute countries in Africa and in the post 9/11 world of 2003, still before the United States invaded Iraq, attitudes towards the United States were poor at best. Jeff Taylor's expertise is studying cultures in his travels and he wanted to see for himself the conflict between Christians and Muslims and Muslim attitudes towards the United States which at the time appeared to be heading towards another war in Iraq. He accomplished both goals.

Taylor is fluent in Russian, French and Arabic along with English an thus has the tools to undergo such a trip yet he struggles along the way dealing with multitudes of corrupt officials and thieving citizens of both faiths. Yet always he seems to find good Samaritans along the way to help guide him through the country via local transportation consisting of trucks, boats, trains and camels and look out for his welfare

This is the second book of his I have read and it has convinced me that I need to read more. I have another one on my shelf but for now it will remain so. My next book is the beginning of a goal that I have had for many years. I am attempting to read a biography on each of our presidents beginning with George Washington and working my way to Obama. I figure by the time I get to him, I will have several biographies to choose from. For Washington, I chose a 500 plus page tomb written by Willard Sterne Randall. I will give a report on it when I finish sometime next year.


Sage said...

This book sounds interesting--maybe a companion to "Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town" which I reviewed a few months ago. The biography of presidents sounds like a noble idea.

Ed Abbey said...

I still have that book on my "gift" list to those who want something to buy me for Christmas. Perhaps I'll get a copy of it in a month or so.

The biography this has been something I have wanted to do for awhile. It will probably take me a long time to complete and I'm not sure if can be completed. Some of the more obscure presidents don't have books in print on them or possibly never had anything written. I may have to resort to google to fill in blanks. I'm really enjoying my book on George Washington so far. Definitely not what I was expecting.

Beau said...

Very ambitious with the Presidents. I've always coupled my reading with the interests and stories of my life at a given time, school, etc. I may take a more organized approach and make a list of biographies and subjects... we'll see!

R. Sherman said...

Good for you with presidential biographies. My guess is the selection for some of them will be pretty slim.


The Real Mother Hen said...

Ah, I just checked, the local library has this book! Super, I'm going to read it after Flat, Hot and Crowded.

Ed Abbey said...

Beau - I do too. But I have a hard time thinking of something I actually want for a birthday or Christmas so I come up with lists of books that people can use for years. I've been working on the "100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time" but gift givers are starting to have a hard time finding more so I came up with the presidential biographies to keep them busy for awhile.

R. Sherman - It's all about discovery. I guess I'll find out.

Mother Hen - I have no idea what type of book that is but the title sounds interesting.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Flat, Hot and Crowded sound interesting? Ah, that's because it's an adult book, very obscene, perfect to be in your gift list, haha, nah, it's actually by T.Friedman, the guy who was asked to aim for Microsoft or IBM when playing the 18th hole in a flat world - wow, it does sound obscene :)

Btw, don't diet, especially when your wifey is a good cook. You are always in shape even if you are round, round is a shape you know :)

Ed Abbey said...

Mother Hen - Fortunately, I looked it up on Amazon right after so I knew what it was about before your comment.

Round is a shape but unfortunately, not very condusive to hiking up mountains.

Murf said...

So how do you pick which author's biography of the president that you will read if someone wrote more than one? You'll have tons to choose from when you hit Lincoln.

For some reason, this book made me think of the movie, "The Mighty Wind" and how Big A's "angry wind" got him booted to another room. :-)

Ed Abbey said...

Starting out.... it's a crap shoot. But what I've found is that presidential biography writers tend to write about more than one president so if I find an author that writes well, I may stick with him through the other presidents. The one I have who wrote Washington's biography will probably not be one I recommend for others since he tends to be very verbose.

Lincoln is covered already. I won a biography book on him about a year ago.