The Spiders of Allah
Travels of an Unbeliever on the Frontline of Holy War
By James Hider
(St. Martin's Griffin, Paperback, 9780312565855, 336pp.)
Publication Date: June 23, 2009
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In his fascinating, terrifying and often very funny book, James Hider takes his doubts about religious beliefs straight into the dark heart of the world’s holy wars—from Israel to Gaza to Iraq—the birthplace that spawned so many faiths—and then back to Jerusalem. From hardcore Zionist settlers still fighting ancient Biblical battles in the hills of the West Bank to Shiite death squads roaming the lawless streets of Iraq in the aftermath of Saddam; whether it's the misappropriation and martyrdom of Mickey Mouse by Gaza's Islamists, or a US president acting on God's orders, Hider sees the hallucinatory effect of what he calls the 'crack cocaine of fanatical fundamentalism' all around him. As he meets terrorists, suicide bombers, soldiers, ayatollahs, clerics, and ordinary and extraordinary people alike, the question that sparked his journey continues to plague his thoughts: how can people not only believe in this madness, but die and kill for it too? This extraordinary and timely book takes the God Delusion debate onto the streets of the Middle East. It casts an unflinching yet compassionate eye on the very worst and most violent crimes committed in the name of religion, and then sharply asks the questions the world needs to answer if we are ever to stand a chance of facing our own worst demons.
James Hider is The Times Middle Eastern Bureau Chief, currently based in Jerusalem. This is his first book.
“Thank God (although after reading this book you might stop believing in a higher power) for James Hider. After working as a reporter on all the major frontlines of the War on Terror, he has produced a masterpiece that strips away the propaganda and prejudice that blights analysis of the first global conflict of the 21st Century. It is a work of great authority written with wit and wisdom.” - Tim Butcher, author of Blood River
“James Hider offers a new voice in the literature of the Middle East: His is delightfully fresh and very funny. It takes a brave and confident writer to take on so many taboos, but Hider does it with the confidence that comes from years in the field and from a deep, authoritative historical and cultural knowledge of Israel, Iraq and the region.”—Matt McAllester, author of Beyond the Mountains of the Damned
“Studded with a fascinating set of characters in a human landscape both barbarous and beautiful journalist James hider has written an absorbing account of his exciting excursions into the Arab world.”—Jean Sasson, author of Princess and Mayada, Daughter of Iraq
With wry humor, the choicest human anecdotes and the vivid descritptive skills of a high-class jouranlis, James Hider succeeds brilliantly in bringing those jaded stories – Iraq and the Middle East – to life.”—Martin Fletcher, author of Almost Heaven
“Hider’s voice is incisive and rich in the human detailt hat only first-hand experience bestows. An essential work for anyone wishing to understand the swirling machinations of Iraq, its people and its war.”—Anthony Loyd, My War Gone By, I Miss It So