Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas

Book: The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas
Author: Anand Giridharadas

Anand Giridharadas's deeply moving new work of narrative nonfiction tells the story of Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a former Bangladeshi Air Force officer who comes to America with a dream of starting a new life. That dream falters when, after 9/11, a self-declared "American terrorist" named Mark Stroman walks into the Dallas minimart where Bhuiyan works and shoots him in the face, nearly ending his life. Then, a decade after the shooting, in a remarkable act of mercy, Bhuiyan forgives Stroman and wages a legal battle against Governor Rick Perry, in the name of Shariah law and the U.S. Constitution, attempting to spare from execution the man who tried to kill him. The True American is a story about our love-hate relationship with immigrants, about the meeting of Islam and the West, and about whether we choose who we become or let ourselves be hemmed in by history.-Goodreads

Review: 'The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas' was our book club read for November. Rais is a hard working Bangladeshi working in Dallas when he is shot in the face by Mark Stroman. Stroman is quickly arrested and convicted, but the two men lives are intertwined when Rais works with a team of people to help spare Stroman from the death penalty. 

I've read several true crime novels and this was definitely one of the better ones. Like all authors, Giridharadas injects some of his own disdain (he clearly did not care for Stroman's former boss who helped turn him in) but overall, I think he did a very good job presenting Rais and Stroman. Rais is such a hard working, positive individual I was thoroughly impressed by his attitude and spirit (and my heart absolutely broke for him when his engagement fell apart). I particularly liked how he handled Stroman, primarily by introducing him by court records. I also learned a lot of death row and its inmates (there are pen pal programs, who knew?). I think the oddest part of this book was the last third, which weirdly focused on Mark Stroman's children and their struggles. I feel like this was completely unnecessary and didn't fit in with the rest of the book. 

Overall-this was a very good read and sparked a lot of discussion at our book club. The last third should have been edited out, or included as an afterward. 

Grade: 4/5

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