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In this highly personal follow-up to Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali examines the high cost of freedom - estrangement from her family and country, the loud criticism of her by many Muslims (some of them women), the 24-hour security which came as a result of death threats, and her struggle to come to terms with an often lonely independence. She records the painful reconciliation with her beloved father, who had disowned her when she began criticising Islam, and the sorts of conflicts inherent in feeling torn between heart and mind. And as she delves into Islam's obsessions with virginity and the code of honour, she asks the question on everyone's mind: why do so many women embrace a religion which shuns them? Weaving together memoir and reportage, Ayaan confronts the complacency and ignorance that often colour intellectual debate on Islam. With disarming honesty, she shares her experiences, doubts and insights.
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A charismatic public figure and the author of a previous memoir-the best-selling Infidel about her Muslim Somali upbringing and her second life as a refugee in the Netherlands-Ali is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. She presents her second memoir with the explicit ideological motive to counter what she sees as naive liberal responses to Islam, but she dedicates a large portion to her struggles with culture shock as she seeks to find her footing first in Europe then the United States. The book's emotional power lies in her efforts toward a personal reckoning with her family. Those who accept Samuel P. Huntington's theory of the "clash of civilizations" will welcome this smoothly written, emotionally vivid memoir. Readers willing to accept that there is such a thing as "the Muslim mind" will take Ali's arguments at face value. Many readers, however, will reject her assertion that all Muslims think and behave as her tribal community does. Others will question her view that Islam is to be blamed for the social and political problems in predominantly Muslim third world regions and will ask how she would explain similar problems in non-Muslim countries. VERDICT A controversial book accessible to the general public, unlikely to change any minds.-Lisa Klopfer, Eastern Michigan Univ. Lib., Ypsilanti Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

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