Friday, July 31, 2009

Book Quotes: Ayman Zawahiri and Suicide Bombers

From My Hope for Peace by Jehan Sadat (page 11):

[Ayman] Zawahiri, however, resurfaced in Egypt long before September 11. In the 1990s, he was involved in a series of terrible attacks within my country, employing a grisly weapon that had, until then, been unheard of by even the most extreme Sunni Muslim group: the suicide bomber. Suicide, like murder, is strictly forbidden in Islam, but again, the zealots had perverted the Qur'an to justify their actions. On the eighteenth anniversary of my husband's historic trip to Jerusalem, a trip that was the bold first step to establish peace between Israel and Egypt, Zawahiri used suicide bombers to destroy the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad. Sixteen innocent people were killed, and many, many more were injured. Suicide bombers would become a hallmark of al-Jihad and later, as the world now knows, al Qaeda.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tragedy in South Lebanon by Cathy Sultan

Tragedy in South Lebanon

Tragedy in South Lebanon:
The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006
by Cathy Sultan

Trade Paperback: 172 pages
Publisher: Scarletta Press
First Released: 2008

Author Website
Buy from Amazon

Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
Cathy Sultan combines compelling history and vivid personal interviews to relate the lives of the oft-ignored civilians of southern Lebanon and northern Israel during the July war of 2006. She also addresses media treatment of the war and policy decisions, both historical and contemporary, made by Lebanon, Israel and the US. She discusses how divisive factions within the current Lebanese government leave the country teetering on the brink of yet more violence, imploring government officials on all sides to act with foresight, compassion and responsibility. Features include a chronology of Lebanese history, maps depicting wartime activity and a glossary of Middle Eastern terms.

Tragedy in South Lebanon tells the history of Israel and Lebanon leading up to, during, and after the The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006. This book left me feeling frustrated because it kept slipping from a fair and balanced view of the situation to one-sided reporting, finger-pointing with no supporting evidence (or contradictory evidence given later in the book), and unrealistic expectations. For example, the author often blames the USA for everything wrong in the region and thinks the USA virtually controls every move made in the Middle East. Yet she later gives details about the situation that prove this not true.

The first 29 pages were the worst. The section about the 2006 war (lasting 30 pages) included several excellent interviews from people on all sides of the conflict. It was the best section of the book. The remaining sections often slipped into giving only one side so that the actions of the USA and Israel seemed completely baffling as well as deliberately unethical. (In reality, probably some of those decisions were unethical, others poor judgment or mistakes due to poor information, and some would have made sense if the reasons were given.) I also found it annoying that she often told the reader what value judgments to make about the facts instead of letting the reader come to their own conclusions.

So why was I so frustrated? If the author left out the bias, gave the full picture, and let the facts (from both sides) speak for themselves, then I think the facts would have convinced many people into taking action. Instead, I was left wondering how accurate her view of the situation was due to the frequent obvious bias in the information she gave.

And, though she used many excellent sources, the number of newsletters and newspaper articles she used as sources for her facts only increased my concern about the accuracy of her information. I've been interviewed by newspaper reporters before and know how inaccurate newspaper articles can be. I was left wondering if she double-checked the information with other sources.

So this book has useful information, but it doesn't give the full picture. The black-and-white maps were very easy to understand, and the author was not anti- one faith or the other--faith played little role in her analysis. However, the only people I think would thoroughly enjoy this book are those who think the USA is responsible for all of the Middle East's woes and that modern war is the equivalent of terrorism.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Chapter One
South Lebanon's continued descent into chaos has, to a large degree, been fomented by foreign powers. The root cause of the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war can be traced back to the 1968 cross-border skirmishes between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Israeli Army. The PLO guerrillas occupied villages in South Lebanon from where they launched attacks into northern Israel. The Israeli Army responded with reprisal raids, killing civilians, destroying homes, crops and entire villages. A decade later, twenty-five thousand Israeli troops invaded South Lebanon to wipe out PLO guerrillas who continued to lob Katyusha rockets across their
border. The PLO evacuated the region ahead of the advancing Israeli troops leaving villagers to face a powerful military force unarmed. During the two-month siege five thousand innocent civilians were killed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Book Quotes: Cambodia

From The American Patriot's Almanac by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb:


THE EVENTS UNFOLDED HALF A WORLD AWAY, but the last days of April 1975 were dark ones in American history. The United States had withdrawn its forces from Southeast Asia, leaving the Communist North Vietnamese army to overrun South Vietnam. On April 29, as North Vietnamese troops encircled Saigon, American officials began a helicopter evacuation to get thousands of U.S. citizens, South Vietnamese allies, and others out of the capital city. On April 30, South Vietnam surrendered.

Just days earlier, a similar though smaller-scale evacuation had taken place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as forces of the Communist Khmer Rouge moved in on that capital. As U.S. officials fled the country, the American ambassador asked Prince Sirik Matak if he would like to leave. Matak's response is difficult for Americans to read:

I thank you very sincerely for your letter and your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you, and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection, and we can do nothing about it. You leave, and my wish is that you and your country will find happiness under this sky. But, mark it well, that if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is no matter, because we are all born and must die. I have only committed this mistake of believing in you.

When the Khmer Rouge seized Phnom Penh, they shot Matak in the stomach. Unattended, it took him three days to die. During the Khmer Rouge's four-year reign of terror, some 1.5 million people died from execution, starvation, and forced labor.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Written on the Knee by Dr. Theodore Electris

Written on the Knee

Written on the Knee:
A Diary from the Greek-Italian Front of WWII
Diary by Dr. Theodore Electris
Edited and translated by Helen Electrie Lindsay

Trade Paperback: 230 pages
Publisher: Scarletta Press
First Released: 2008

Buy from Amazon

Source: review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
During the Greek-Italian conflict of World War II, Dr. Theodore Electris, newly married and idealistic, was called up to the Greek-Italian front in the remote mountains of Albania. Homesick, hungry and desperately missing his young wife, Chrysoula, he kept an intimate journal to preserve his experiences for her.

Translated by his daughter, Helen Electrie Lindsay, Electris’ entries and letters come together in Written on the Knee. Fully illustrated and accompanied by supporting reference material, the collection serves as both an authentic historical document of Greek involvement in WWII and a story of love, separation and family ties threatened and strengthened by war.

Often overlooked in the scope of WWII, Greece’s six-month conflict with Mussolini’s forces played a pivotal role in the war’s outcome. The small country’s fierce resistance against the Italians delayed Hitler’s move into the Soviet Union, which many historians believe turned the war in favor of the Allies.

From Dr. Electris’ first entry to his last, Written on the Knee captures the true story of love and war during a crucial time in modern history.

Written on the Knee is a war diary with related letters, photos, and maps included. There are also sections giving a brief history of the time before, during, and after the diary to put the diary in context. It's an interesting, personal look at what WWII was like on Greek-Italian front. Since it's a diary, he often writes a lot about some aspects (like the travel, finding food, finding ways to send letters, interpersonal relations, air raids) and less on others (actual patients and wounds treated and the fighting going on).

After the diary section of the book, the editor has included information about the overall war movements on this front which helped put the doctor's experiences in context. I understand why it was put afterward--so the reader could share in the not knowing the big picture that the doctor experienced--but some readers might find it more useful to read it first.

The nice black and white photos show the doctor at the various camps and villages and help show the people and places that he describes in his diary.

One of the included maps shows the doctor's travels with the dates he wrote about entering the town or area so the reader can track his movement. There are other maps showing the lines of war and such, but there was so much information on the black-and-white maps that I had a hard time figuring out where the doctor was and how the map related to what he was describing. People used to these types of maps will probably find them useful, though.

I'd recommend this book to WWII history buffs and to those of Greek descent who are interested in that nation's history.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Diary
November 1, 1940

Mobilization, mobilization...we are being mobilized...

Around 2:00 PM, we started from camp, taking the side roads, walking towards the Harmanakion [Alexandria] station. We arrived there around 4:00 P.M. Halfway there were two air raids; we scattered and took cover in the surrounding hills.

All morning long, before we departed, I waited for my sweet wife, so I could say goodbye; I was worried that she might have encountered an air raid as well. She finally came just as we were pulling out. My sweetheart, my love, why should she have to suffer so much, only because I love her?! She loves me too and I feel it. For her love I can withstand anything.

Soon we will board trains that will take us to Sorovich [Amynteo].

All along during out move I worried about her return to the house. This "worry" thing is a newly developed feeling and is gripping us all with its claws; it's worse than fear itself.

With these thoughts and emotions I look for a phone and call her.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Book Quotes: Teaching Health Practices

From Miracle at Tenwek: The Life of Dr. Ernie Steury by Gregg Lewis.

After the hospital staff and resources grew, Tenwek hospital started training volunteers to take information on basic health practices out to the community to help prevent sickness and common injuries.

[In 1986,] The growing volunteer force, already 125 community health helpers, was having an immediate impact throughout the area, both physically and spiritually. Due to the immunizations and the instruction provided by the workers, the number of measles cases at Tenwek had been cut in half, and whooping cough cases were only a fifth of what they had been in preceding years.


..from 559 cases of measles (including 19 fatal cases) at Tenwek Hospital in 1983 to only 68 cases of measles and no fatal cases in 2003; 1,101 cases of diarrhea diseases treated at Tenwek in 1983 versus 97 such cases in 2003; and 30 deaths from whooping cough in 1983 and none in 2003.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Giveaway Winner for Sex Trafficking

The winner was randomly selected from the correctly submitted entries. The winner of "Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery" by Siddharth Kara is:


Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for your address.

For those who didn't win this important book, you can always buy it from Amazon or other favorite bookstore.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Miracle at TenWek by Gregg Lewis

Miracle at TenWek

Miracle at TenWek:
The Life of Dr. Ernie Steury
by Gregg Lewis

Trade Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Discovery House Publishers
First Released: 2007

Buy from Amazon

Source: review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
"Lord, I don't know what you want me to do. But whatever you can do with my life, here it is!" When Indiana farm boy Ernie Steury uttered this prayer at the close of a church service in 1948, he could never have imagined how God would use him to build one of the most successful medical mission facilities in the world. This compelling biography recounts Ernie's remarkable life and ministry as a medical missionary in Tenwek, Kenya.

Raised in America's heartland, Ernie studied to be a medical missionary at Asbury College and Indiana University School of Medicine and then answered the call to Tenwek in 1959, where he founded Tenwek Hospital and built it into what is widely recognized as one of the premier mission hospitals in the world.

Ernie's adventures in Kenya include pincher ants, an angry baboon, and witch doctors. Cultural superstitions about surgery and other common medical treatments such as blood transfusions; limited human and medical resources; and facilities that, for many years, were inadequate to meet the needs of the thousands who came for help--all were obstacles Ernie overcame as he healed bodies and sought to change lives through the ministry of the gospel.

This book is an interesting, engaging biography of Ernie Steury. The author is an excellent storyteller, vividly portraying Ernie Steury's life and personality through dramatic, amazing, and funny stories. The book does cover some of his childhood and early adulthood, but mainly focuses on how God used him in Kenya.

Much information is included about the local culture and the problems local customs created during medical treatment, like the superstitions about death, blood, and spirits and the practices of female circumcision and infanticide. However, the living conditions at the hospital weren't as primitive as in some missionary books.

Most of the surgery scenes are not highly graphic, but the few that are might make people queasy if they get queasy watching TV surgery scenes.

The book quotes letters and articles written by Dr. Steury to show the emotional stresses and ups and downs of missionary work. It also includes quotes from family, friends, and staff. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone interested in medical missions or in rural Kenya.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Chapter One
Daktari! Daktari!

Dr. Ernie Steury smiled as he handed the day-old infant back to her mother before he looked up to see the messenger rushing across the maternity ward. The young Kenyan woman, one of the hospital's nursing assistants, kept calling as she came: "Daktari! Daktari!"

"What is it?" Ernie wanted to know.

"Come quickly!" She was breathing hard. "They need out-patient...A boy...with an arrow wound...He is hurt....very bad, Mosonik (MOH'-SOH-NIK)."

"Then let's go!" Ernine responded, hurrying out of the maternity ward and across the Tenwek Hospital compound. Rushing into the outpatient clinic thirty seconds later, he found a missionary nurse checking the vital signs on a fifteen-year-old Kipsigis (KIP-SUH-GEEZ) boy. The patient was obviously in pain and going into shock. In the Kipsigis language, Ernie asked the boy's name.


Then Ernie asked what had happened.

The young man's father, who had hitched a ride to the hospital for his son on the back of an old pickup truck, told a familiar story. Early that morning, his boy and some others in their village were taking the family cows out to graze for the day when they'd been ambushed by a band of Maasai warriors intent on stealing the cattle. The herders resisted, but futilely. The Maasai, who were better armed, also had the advantage of surprise and greater numbers. During the fight, Kiprotich was wounded.

Ernie had heard similar stories many times before. There were frequent raids and skirmishes over livestock all along the border of the Kipsigis and Maasai territories. The Maasai believed that the creator gave their tribe dominion over all cattle; thus, they considered every cow on earth to be rightfully Maasai property--a worldview neither accepted nor appreciated by neighboring tribes.

Even as he listened to the account of the early morning attack, Ernie began examining a deceptively small abdominal wound. He'd seen enough of those to know it was far worse than it looked on the outside.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Giveaway: Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery

Sex Trafficking:
Inside the Business of Modern Slavery
by Siddharth Kara

Hardback: 298 pages
Publisher: Columbia University Press
First Released: 2009

Read my review of the book.

I thought Sex Trafficking by Siddharth Kara was such an important book that I decided to have a giveaway contest for my copy. Due to shipping costs, this contest is for USA residents only.

To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "@genrereviewer Enter me to win INSIDE THE BUSINESS OF MODERN SLAVERY. The author supports _______." Include the name of the organization to which the author donates a portion of the money made from the sale of this book. (Hint: This information is in the book description section of my review.)


2) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered and giving the name of the organization dedicated to freeing slaves.

The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner at noon (Central Time, Daylight Savings Time) on July 16th on this blog. If you entered using twitter, I'll send you a @ or DM telling you of your win and asking where to send the book. If you entered using the blog comments, you'll need to leave your e-mail address or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your shipping address.

I hope everyone has fun with this!

Inside the Business of Modern Slavery by Siddharth Kara

Sex Trafficking:
Inside the Business of Modern Slavery
by Siddharth Kara

Hardback: 298 pages
Publisher: Columbia University Press
First Released: 2009

Source: review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
Every year, millions of women and children are abducted, deceived, seduced, or sold into forced prostitution, made to service hundreds if not thousands of men before being discarded. Generating huge profits for their exploiters, sex slaves form the backbone of one of the world's most profitable illicit enterprises, for unlike narcotics, which must be grown, harvested, refined, and packaged, the female body requires no such "processing" and can be repeatedly consumed.

In this first-of-its-kind journey, Siddharth Kara investigates the mechanics of the global sex trafficking business across four continents and takes stock of its devastating human toll. Since first encountering the horrors of sexual slavery in a Bosnian refugee camp in 1995, Kara has taken multiple research trips to India, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Albania, Moldova, Mexico, and the United States. He has met hundreds of slaves, has witnessed the sale of numerous human beings into slavery, and has confronted some of the criminals who have exploited them.

Drawing on his background in finance and economics, Kara provides a rare business analysis of sex trafficking, focusing on the local drivers and global macroeconomic trends that gave rise to the industry after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He quantifies the size, growth, and profitability of sex trafficking and other forms of modern slavery—metrics that have never been published before—and locates the sectors that would be hardest hit by specifically designed interventions and penalties.

Kara supplements his analysis with a riveting account of this unconscionable industry, sharing the moving stories of victims and revealing the shocking conditions of their exploitation. He concludes with a proposal for aggressive measures that target the essential business and economic functioning of the sex trafficking industry designed to provide a more effective global approach to abolishing these crimes against the world's most vulnerable and exploited persons.

The author will donate a portion of the proceeds from this book to the organization Free the Slaves.

Sex Trafficking is a thought-provoking and heart-touching looking into modern slavery. While the author mainly focused on forced prostitution, he also covered other types of forced labor and slavery. He included many stories of slaves and ex-slaves to give a face to slavery and to demonstrate the variety of ways women are enslaved. The author also gave detailed economic breakdowns of the profitability of forced labor and explained how these economics can be changed to make slavery economically less desirable.

Much of the book was written in an engaging, conversational style. The parts on economics did get a bit technical and dry, but his points were still very understandable.

I don't agree with everything the author said since his view of the world is different than mine. However, the reader can easily use the information he's gathered in this book to come to their own conclusions on how to fight modern slavery. The author does suggest several practical things an individual can do to help.

This book gave insight into modern slavery. It also provided a look into how very different other cultures can be in how they treat women, view slavery, etc. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone desiring a stop to modern slavery, people interested in other cultures, and to all women (especially feminists).

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Chapter One
Gaunt and distressed, [Maya] was nineteen when I interviewed her, after almost four years as a sex slave in each of Mumbai’s two main red-light districts, Kamathipura and Falkland Road. She was born in the Sindhupalchok region of Nepal, one of the poorest stretches of land on the planet, with an annual per capita income of $180, or fifty cents per day. Desperate to make ends meet, her parents sold her to a local agent for $55 on the promise that she would have a good job at a carpet factory, from which she could send home up to $10 per month. The night Maya left home, the agent resold her to a dalal (trafficker), who took her to Butwal, a border town with India, where they spent the night with another girl. The next day, Maya, the other girl, and the dalal crossed the border into India by foot. A few days later, they were in Mumbai.

This is what Maya told me happened next:

“Once I came to Mumbai, the dalal sold me to a malik [brothel boss] in Kamathipura. The malik told me I owed him thirty-five thousand rupees [$780], and I must have sex with any man who chooses me until this debt is repaid. I refused, and his men raped me and did not feed me. When I agreed to do sex, they gave me medicines because I had a urine infection. I was in that bungalow two years and made sex to twenty men each day. There were hundreds of girls in this bungalow, many from Nepal. One time I tried to escape. I complained to the police, but they did nothing. A few days later the malik’s men found me on the streets and took me back to the brothel. The malik put chili paste on a broomstick and pushed it inside me. Then he broke my ribs with his fist. The gharwali [house manager, madam] tended my wounds for a short time, and after this time I went with clients again, even though my ribs pained very badly. The gharwali gave me opium to make the pain less. After two years, the malik sold me to another malik on Falkland Road. During this time I lived in a pinjara [cage] with one other woman. It was very small and it was on the street, so it was very noisy at night. I was pregnant two times, and the gharwali gave me pills to kill the baby. The second time I became very ill. When I was strong I ran away. I went to a shelter near Falkland Road. They told me I have HIV. They helped me contact my father, but he told me not to come home. He said I can never be married and because I have HIV, I can only bring shame.”

Maya’s story is emblematic of the hundreds of thousands of women and children trafficked and forced into prostitution each year. As with each victim in this book, I have not used Maya’s real name, and in a few instances in which discussing precise geographic locations might result in danger to the individual, I have provided an alternate setting. Like most sex trafficking victims, Maya and her family were vulnerable to deceit due to economic desperation. Once Maya arrived at the brothel, she was swiftly broken down through physical and psychological torture. While her journey to Mumbai was direct, other victims endure multiple stops in several countries, where they are exploited, resold, and tortured. At each destination, victims are told they must work off the “debt” of trafficking them by having sex with up to twenty men per day. The accounting of these debts is invariably exploitative, involving deductions for food, clothing, rent, alcohol, and exorbitant interest rates. The false promise of attaining freedom is a powerful tool that brothel owners utilize to control their victims. As time passes, some slaves accept their fates, and in a Stockholm Syndrome–like transformation, they might be “freed” to serve as working prostitutes who mentor new slaves upon arrival. In Maya’s case, when her brothel owner decided she had worked off her debt, she was resold and given a new debt. If she had not escaped, the cycle of slavery might never have ended.

Read the Preface and part of Chapter One of Sex Trafficking.