In His Strength, by Noriko Dethlefs

Letters from Afghanistan 2005-2009.

A journal-like record of life in Afghanistan as observed and experienced by a Japanese-Australian teacher.

Noriko Dethlefs’ husband was posted to Afghanistan to serve with the Christian Blind Mission.

This account of her life in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2009 gives an insight into the different cultural attitudes and religious beliefs she encountered as well as the daily dangers faced by both locals and foreigners.

She also writes about the lack of comforts that we in the “west” take for granted that Afghans do without throughout their lives.

The book shows that despite all of those differences, there is a shared, vulnerable humanity.

That’s something too often forgotten or purposely avoided when it becomes politically expedient.

Read more here:
https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2017/07/10/across-the-cultures-a-shared-need-of-god/

Advertisements
Posted in Afghanistan, Christian, Noriko Dethlefs | Tagged ,

No Is Not Enough 2, Naomi Klein

Posted in Climate Change, Economics, Naomi Klein, politics | Tagged

No Is Not Enough, Naomi Klein

I’m waiting on the delivery of my copy of this and this morning watched an interview with Klein related to the book.

Click on the link to access the interview.

 

https://publish.dvlabs.com/democracynow/360/dn2017-0613.mp4?start=1029.0&end=1716.0

 

 

Posted in Naomi Klein, politics | Tagged , ,

Nadeem Aslam: The Golden Legend

Nadeem Aslam is at the top of the list of my favourite authors. This interview has just been posted on the ABC Radio website.

“If you don’t like my books, you won’t like me. I am my books”.
Nadeem Aslam on his latest novel The Golden Legend, inspired by Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.


 

Nadeem Aslam on blasphemy laws in Pakistan:

If you go to the police and say, this person who lives next to me, or a friend of mine, or just this stranger has said something rude about Mohammed. You’re not allowed to repeat what it was. Because then you too would have committed blasphemy. This is such a Kafkaesque situation.

So the people are on death row and nobody’s allowed to say what they actually did.

________________________________

Interview is from here:
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/booksandarts/nadeem-aslams-the-golden-legend/8472170

Posted in Nadeem Aslam | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Enemy Coast Ahead by Guy Gibson VC DSO DFC

Guy Gibson was my childhood hero.

I don’t know how I heard of him and his involvement in the “Dam Busters” raid, or why I came to idolise him; but as a pre-teen I developed a brief obsession with the man and the “Dam Busters”.

I don’t recall seeing the 1955 film of the raid before my interest began, so that doesn’t seem to have been the spark, but I did read Paul Brickhill’s book on which the film was based; borrowing it from the local library on several occasions.

A few months ago I found a hard cover copy of the Brickhill book in a Canberra second hand book shop and couldn’t resist spending a few dollars to get it. As I was paying for it, the shop assistant told me he had a copy of Guy Gibson’s own account of the raid, Enemy Coast Ahead, somewhere at the back of the shop. It was a book I vaguely knew about, but had never seen before.

I happily added it to the Brickhill book purchase.

This week was Anzac Day, one of the most significant Australian commemorative holidays, when the war service of Australian and New Zealand military men and women is remembered. Around this time TV channels dust off their war movies and documentaries so they can broadcast relevant programs.

A day or two before Anzac Day, the Dam Busters film was screened, and for the first time in many years I was able to see it, and was surprised to find how good it was for a war film of its the time.

Straight away I picked up Gibson’s book and started reading. Again I was surprised. For a book written so long ago by someone not primarily a writer, it presents a very readable, uncompromising insight into the day to day life of a bomber pilot, from the first days after his call-up, through weeks of tense inactivity, to his early experiences as a bomber pilot and on to the famed dam raids a few years later.

Gibson doesn’t hold back the more “human” aspects of a bomber crew’s life, and its off-duty hours of drinking, partying and womanising. But as he makes clear, they were men who were not expecting to live long. They didn’t know when they’d be called upon to fly out on what could be their last mission, and their last day of life.

In the early days of September [1939] I had an appointment with the dentist but didn’t turn up. He had seen me in the Mess afterwards. “I did not come along” I explained, ” because I didn’t see any point in having my teeth fixed and going through agony in the process, when I was likely to die within the next few days”

Although this incident preceded any of Gibson’s serious missions, for evidence [in hindsight] that there was no flippancy in his remarks to the dentist, the reader only needs to look through the list of 100 former crew members to whom Gibson dedicates his book, all of whom were killed, or missing presumed killed, at the time of the book’s writing. Gibson himself could later be added to that list after not returning from a mission over Germany in September 1944.

Posted in Guy Gibson, Memoir, War | Tagged | 1 Comment

Blood on my Hands, a Surgeon at War by Craig Jurisevic


This is another book related to military medicine, but this one has a slight difference. Jurisevic was an Australian volunteer doctor who chose to help refugees who were fleeing from Kosovo to get away from a murderous campaign waged by Serbia under the government of Slobodan Milosevic.

What started out as a “simple” aim to serve in a surgical capacity for a volunteer organisation became complicated when Jurisevic exposed corruption at the main hospital in the town he was stationed, where severely wounded and sick refugees were being forced to pay for treatment or left to die.

He became a likely target for the organised crime group behind the extortion, so was encouraged by the Kosovan resistance to join them at their front line camp where they offered protection. He then found himself in situations far outside of his intended surgical role; seeing the need to train eager but woefully unprepared fighters from around the world in the essential basics of military competency.
Serving previously in a medical capacity under combat conditions in Gaza was helpful to him in ways he couldn’t have anticipated.

 

_________________

 

“They killed fourteen from my village. Three were children. They shot the children first so that their fathers and mothers could see. They shot the parents of these children with some others of my village”
( from a survivor of Sapuzane, Serbia, as told to Craig Jurisevic after fleeing across the border to Albania).

Posted in Craig Jurisevic, refugees, War | Tagged ,

Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz

Trigger MortisI read all of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books in my early teens and later tried some of those written by other authors after Fleming’s death. To me those post-Fleming books lacked authenticity, particularly the “novelisations” spun off from 1980s films. I especially never warmed to John Gardner’s ventures into the Bond world.

Last year I returned to Bond through Jeffrey Deaver’s Carte Blanche, and again, like the earlier attempts to follow in Fleming’s footsteps, I found it didn’t quite hit the mark, but things are different with Anthony Horowitz and Trigger Mortis.

Horowitz returns to the settings of the original Bond books, keeping Bond in the Fleming time period, and placing his story immediately after the events of Fleming’s Goldfinger.

The first part of Trigger Mortis adapts a previously unpublished Fleming short story in which Bond enters the extreme world of 1950s car racing (the equivalent of formula one with minimal safety restrictions). Suspicions raised during that introduction lead Bond into the heart of a Russian plot to destabilise the infant US space program.

I found the book’s tone and characterisation were more consistent with Fleming’s Bond than any of those by other writers who attempted Bond.

As with Horowitz’s TV series Foyle’s War, the writer adapts and weaves real historical events into the background of his story. Apart from aspects of America’s fledgling space programme, Horowitz also referenced events from the Korean War, where southern Korean refugees trying to flee to safety ahead of the advancing North Korean army, were massacred by US forces, fearful of North Koreans infiltrating their territory hidden among the escaping masses. While Horowitz offers little explanation for the atrocity, I found more detail in another book I’ve been reading recently: The Korean War by Cameron Forbes.

Posted in Anthony Horowitz, spy fiction | Tagged

The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam

The Golden Legend is another exquisitely written novel by Nadeem Aslam.

An enthralling view into a world of politics, religion, persecution, corruption, love, loyalty, and extremism. A story of  violence and tenderness, love and fear, hope and despair, in a nation wracked by political and religious inconsistencies.

There are times throughout my reading year when I need to sit down with a “page-turner”, a book impossible to put down. A book I can finish in a couple of sittings.

This book is not one of those – it can’t be rushed. It needs to be savoured, not only to enjoy the richness of the writing, but to absorb the realities it explores. It takes us into a world contrasting significantly from the familiar western reality most of us take for granted, a place where political and religious allegiances, no matter loosely held, can make daily life precarious depending upon the opportunistic agendas of others .

Posted in Nadeem Aslam | Tagged , , , ,

The Silent invasion by James Bradley

Silent InvasionThe Silent Invasion is the first part of “The Change Trilogy”, set in the near future after the earth has been infected by extra-terrestrial spores that initiate changes in the metabolism of plant and animal life.

Infection leads to both physiological and personality changes, radically altering a victim’s identity and their relationship with others. Attempting to hold back the spread of the change, the infected are taken away from their families and society, by a government Quarantine department, never to be seen again by their families.

When sixteen year old Callie finds that Gracie, her young sister has started to change, she defies her family and community law, and attempts to escape to the Zone, a wild exclusion area in the north of Australia where “the change” has become established.

The story has some similarities to Jack Finney’s 1950s story Invasion of the Body Snatchers (probably better known through film adaptations) in which people on earth are replaced by emotionless duplicates after coming into contact with plant spores (or pods) originating from space. While Finney’s story portrays the unaffected as potential victims trying to escape those dehumanised by the “pods”, Bradley’s book turns things around and those affected by the change become the potential victims, trying to escape from a fearful “unchanged” society.

It was the page-turner I needed to read after tackling a few heavy going (though rewarding books) in the preceding two months. I read it in one day, barely putting it down. Fortunately, before I started I knew it was only the first part of a trilogy so was prepared for a mostly unresolved ending to set the reader up for the next instalment

Posted in James Bradley, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Too Many to Jail, by Mark Bradley

At the beginning of February I finished reading Too Many to Jail by Mark Bradley, a book about the growth of Christianity in Iran. I thought I’d written a “review”,  however, I couldn’t find it and suspect my memory was of an email I sent to a friend at the time.

The book tells of growth in the underground church in Iran, and suggests that Iran’s history and culture has prepared the country for the gospel of Jesus Christ

In recent decades, the Islamic government of Ayatollah Khomeini , followed later by the Khomeini inspired Mahmoud Ahmadinejad presidency, caused a lot of disillusionment among Iranian Muslims who couldn’t reconcile the words and actions of “Allah’s representatives” with their own idea of what God was like.

Bradley writes of aspects of Iranian society that helped make Iranians look favourably upon Jesus and how some had been primed to respond to the gospel through dreams, visions and miracles before being led to someone who could share the truth with them.

After around 100 years of mission work leading up to Khomeini coming to power, traditional churches in Iran could only count around 500 believers – now motivated by home-grown house churches, the number of believers is thought to be in the 100s of thousands, a number causing problems to a government trying to crack down on Christian activity. As the title suggests,  the increasing numbers means there are far Too Many to Jail.

Posted in Christian, Mark Bradley | Tagged , , ,