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.