Monday, January 17, 2011
Thoughts on a book - 1/1: Jihad - Britain
A novel by Jack Everett and David Coles.
NOTE: no spoilers included.
Just before Christmas I was surprised by an email offering me a book to review – a completely unsolicited request based on a random reading of my thoughts here. I continue to be tickled by the links we make so easily across the world, those of us quietly uploading posts about books, movies, observations of life and the amazing array of people who share this online environment with us. Yes it should be obvious, in this world where here in Australia our Emergency Services have used social media to disseminate information quickly and effectively in the face of huge floodwaters.....but I am delighted just the same.
I read the first few pages of this book as soon as it arrived but the complications of end-of-year events at work meant it has been longer than I wanted before getting back to it. Once begun again, I could not stop reading and completed the book in a sitting.
This novel is a disturbing addition to the many stories being woven around terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11. It follows the paths of two men who represent opposing viewpoints – Imran Assail, an extremist Muslim bound for Paradise via jihad, a holy war with Britain as its target, and Francis Raike, a new Prime Minister carried to office by his desire to recreate a better Britain in the wake of the terrorist-created destruction described in clinical detail at the beginning of the story.
The writing is clean and crisp, details spilling out across the pages without confusion; the plots and sub plots ebbing and playing out around each-other. Background to the terrorism which opens the story is related with precision and reveals an unnerving attention to detail in the planning and execution of devastation and murder on a grand scale. The reader observes first the fanaticism of Assail and his partner Fahkri and then the equally driven passion of Francis Raike as he drives the political reforms necessary to replace complacency with national pride and rebuild Britain.
The book begins on New Years Eve 2011, regresses briefly to 2006, then continues through to 2016. There is a love story glimpsed here and there as the PM endeavours to maintain a private life in the face of his enormous responsibilities. There are insights into ways the world could be re-imagined in a manner which recognises diversity while celebrating the common man and his lifestyle. The authors touch on conscription, economic refugees, a new version of transportation of convicts, bomb making, CCTV piracy and even climate change. The pace is swift, the targets of terrorism are frighteningly real, most of the good people survive. The scariest thing about the book is how easy it is to imagine everything being true.
Find this book and read it yourself, you won’t be disappointed.