An NPR journalist’s riveting exploration of religious fanaticism, terrorism, persecution, and confronting one’s own beliefs in a post 9/11 world.
Soon after the World Trade Center towers fell on September 11 2001, it became clear that the United States would invade Afghanistan. Writer and This American Life producer Scott Carrier decided to go there, too. “In a series of remarkable essays, Carrier, raised among Mormons, noted similarities in the beliefs and practices of the Taliban and the Utah church, stressing the fundamentalist pledge of obedience to authority, and revelations and visions from God to a ‘Chosen people.’” Carrier needed to see and experience the Taliban for himself: who are these fanatics, these fundamentalists? And what do they want? (Publishers Weekly).
Throughout these “engrossing stories of travel interspersed with historical vignettes and the author’s private struggles,” Carrier writes about his adventures—sometime harrowing, sometimes humorous, and always revealing—but also about the bigger problem. Having grown up among the resolute of the Salt Lake City church, he argues it will never work to attack the true believers head-on. The faithful thrive on persecution. Somehow, he thinks, we need to find a way—inside ourselves—to rise above fear and anger (Kirkus Reviews)
In the aftermath of 9/11, Carrier, a journalist and radio producer, sought to make sense of the terrorism that caused the great loss of American life and triggered the Afghan war. In a series of remarkable essays, Carrier, raised among Mormons, noted similarities in the beliefs and practices of the Taliban and the Utah church, stressing the fundamentalist pledge of obedience to authority, and revelations and visions from God to a "Chosen people." Carrier is alternately humorous and serious about the reports from Afghanistan, its people, its culture, and the heavy fighting. Journalists on the front lines fascinate us when they get this close: Carrier gathers opinions from some Afghans who believe that Osama bin Laden was a U.S. creation and that the real goal of the war was capturing oil reserves. Chatty but provocative, Carrier's critique of the true believers teaches us options for reconciliation.