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.
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"What an inspiring story in a selfish country"
in this country full of selfishness, it's rare to forgive to this extent. great lesson
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.
"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.
"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!
"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.
"Incredibly boring use of 11 hours"
The book takes on a very intersting idea, but executes it poorly. It feels more like a bunch of regurgitated facts than a story. The author can't even pronounce and enunciate half of the words he wrote.
"Great story, a bit padded"
The story is great but it feels padded out for length. There is so much extra information that more loose ends are created. I want more because there's so much here. It would have been better if narrowed down a bit.
The narration is clear and easy to follow with the author changing his voice slightly for each person's dialogue to avoid much confusion. My only complaint on the narration is his speed. I kept it on 1.25× speed all the way through because he spoke so slowly. It felt more natural this way. It is an easy fix and you will get through the story a bit faster which is good if you don't have much time to read it.
I recommend the book because it has a powerful message that is important in this time in America.
"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!
"moving sad story"
very much worth a credit. racism and hate eventually give way to forgiveness and beauty.
"Better than some fiction"
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.
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