Saturday, March 3, 2012

CBR4 #10 - The Mirage - Matt Ruff

A mind-bending novel in which an alternate history of 9/11 and its aftermath uncovers startling truths about America and the Middle East

11/9/2001: Christian fundamentalists hijack four jetliners. They fly two into the Tigris & Euphrates World Trade Towers in Baghdad, and a third into the Arab Defense Ministry in Riyadh. The fourth plane, believed to be bound for Mecca, is brought down by its passengers.

The United Arab States declares a War on Terror. Arabian and Persian troops invade the Eastern Seaboard and establish a Green Zone in Washington, D.C. . . .

Summer, 2009: Arab Homeland Security agent Mustafa al Baghdadi interrogates a captured suicide bomber. The prisoner claims that the world they are living in is a mirage--in the real world, America is a superpower, and the Arab states are just a collection of "backward third-world countries." A search of the bomber's apartment turns up a copy of "The New York Times," dated September 12, 2001, that appears to support his claim. Other captured terrorists have been telling the same story. The president wants answers, but Mustafa soon discovers he's not the only interested party.

The gangster Saddam Hussein is conducting his own investigation. And the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee--a war hero named Osama bin Laden--will stop at nothing to hide the truth. As Mustafa and his colleagues venture deeper into the unsettling world of terrorism, politics, and espionage, they are confronted with questions without any rational answers, and the terrifying possibility that their world is not what it seems.

I received an ARC copy of this novel from Harper Collins

The premise of this book really caught my attention as an ultimate what if scenario and interesting to explore.  9/11 stories and movies have been hard for me to read/watch as images of that day are too easily remembered. Because of those overall emotions I did have a hard time reading this book at times.

The author works in both politicians from 2001-2009 as well as religious fanatics as characters within the book.  The reimagining of Saddam, Osama and even Middle Eastern politicians was very clever.    At first the wiki type articles before each chapter were helpful to set up the background and/or the scene in a creative way.  But by the end of the book I found myself scanning through them more and more.

I don't want to give away how the mirage was "created", but I was glad it wasn't some drug induced state. This book is a very creative take on the 9/11 events and how our relationship with the Middle East has changed and evolved since that day.  It is also a good thriller/sci fiction type book as well. 

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