Sunday, September 23, 2007

JOHN CHUCKMAN REVIEW: ROLAND JACQUARD'S IN THE NAME OF OSAMA

ROLAND JACQUARD'S IN THE NAME OF OSAMA REVIEWED BY JOHN CHUCKMAN, March 17, 2006


This book is a poor effort. It reminds me of one of those quickie books about the Mafia from the 1960s that were indigestible piles of newspaper cuttings and police tips. Such books spilled over with supposed mobster names and sinister-sounding activities, all with no perceivable organizing principle or meaningful analysis.

Just so Jacquard's book. After you've read it, you will understand almost nothing more about bin Laden than you knew before you read it. Jacquard has the name of every insignificant Arab-sounding individual ever given a parking ticket somewhere in the Western world, often going off on pointless tangents from his attempt at a narrative on bin Laden. Unfortunately, the dozens of undefined organizations Jacquard mentions sound a lot like the Devil's Circle in that silly 1930s cliffhanger serial, The Three Musketeers.

The one interesting thing about this book is that it confirms a theory of mine concerning so-called experts on terror. In the United States especially, there are scores of such fellows regularly appearing on television news or writing other quickie books. No one ever seems to question how they are qualified to be considered experts in terror. After all, terrorist organizations are very secretive. How much did we ever learn about the IRA, a truly professional terrorist organization if there ever was one?

Much of what is claimed to be known today about al Qaeda, for example, is the result of American torture in a chain of post-invasion gulags. Like a child's cry of "uncle!" hoping to be released from a bully's grip, the words of the tortured are of little worth.

I am still trying to find a worthwhile book about bin Laden, but in the meantime, Jacquard's book is recommended only to be avoided.

No comments: