Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of today's most admired and controversial political figures. She burst into international headlines following the murder of ...Show synopsisAyaan Hirsi Ali is one of today's most admired and controversial political figures. She burst into international headlines following the murder of Theo van Gogh by an Islamist who threatened she would be next. An international bestseller, her life story INFIDEL shows the coming of age of this elegant, distinguished -- and sometimes reviled -- political superstar and champion of free speech. Ultimately a celebration of triumph over adversity, Hirsi Ali's story tells how a bright, curious, dutiful little girl evolves into a pioneering freedom fighter. As Western governments struggle to balance democratic ideals with religious pressures, no other book could be more timely, or more significant.Hide synopsis
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This book gave the remarkable life of Ayaan. She took me into the muslim world into her day to day experiences. I learned things I never knew before. Then her whole life turned around when she actually escaped to Holland, got a college degree and a career in politics. Her work is so incredibly inportant to help everyone understand the attitudes and customs of the world she came from and why women need to be educated and freed from this environment. Our book club thoroughly enjoyed discussing this book!
This audio book is at the top of my list! Ayaan tells the story of growing up a Somali female, moving around and living in other countries, both Muslim and Christian, and experiencing first-hand the customs, beliefs and traditions of her people. Hearing the story in the author's own voice brings it up close and personal; the reader feels her anguish, shares her joys, curiosities, perils and triumphs. I've also heard and read some of her other works and can't wait for her future publications.
I seldom give books a 5-star rating to books because I usually find them wanting in some respect or other. However, I found - to my amazement - that Ayaan Hirsi Ali's "Infidel" to be close enough to perfect. It's one of the few books that I could not put down and could relate to on many levels. The book is divided into 2 parts and 17 chapters that detail her somewhat difficult life in Somalia and Saudi Arabia to her emancipation in the West, particularly Holland. Having never been to Africa myself let alone stayed there, I learned a lot about Muslim life (there) and African customs.
Like most developing countries in the Muslim world, growing up there is usually an unfortunate mix of confusion and ignorance that stifles the mental development and inquisitive nature of children like Ayaan. I knew from the beginning that she was a thinker and would not take it lying down. The narrative is presented in great detail (it makes you wonder how she remembers so much because she never mentioned keeping a journal when she was young). This is especially true in the earlier chapters and it gets a little hard to keep up with all her relatives' names because they are so similar. You might lose track of who is who at times (except for the main characters in her life) but that's not what's important. Her experiences and lessons learned are what matter.
Toward the end of the book, events seem to happen more quickly and sometimes even years are skipped. I suppose those times might have been less eventful. I found her experiences with sex and education both in Africa and Holland to be the most interesting. It takes courage to write about things like that. Her innocence and honesty toward these subjects is refreshing. I didn't find the parts about her involvement in Dutch politics to be of much interest, though. This book also taught me a lot about independent women and how they think. It is an educational peek into such a woman's mind, especially for young (Muslim) men, I would say. Prior to reading this book, I never knew this woman had been through so much. I also never suspected how much her life was (and perhaps still is) threatened by Muslim extremists. The last chapter on Theo van Gogh's murder is very sobering.
Her message is clear. Islam is in need of reform. In its current form, it is detrimental to too many Muslims, especially in the developing world and the victims are mainly women, even though Ayaan is considerate enough to admit that men too, suffer. She is not trying to deconvent her readers into atheism (even though she herself is one) but is calling for us (Muslims in developing countries, especially) to apply our reason and intellect to the problems we face in the world. Not because she feels this is a characteristic of the Western world but because she strongly and objectively believes it to be a better way of living. I really enjoyed reading this outstanding and well-written biography of a young woman and believe a copy belongs in every library around the world.
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