Monday, August 11, 2008

Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?

Where in the world is Osama bin Laden?
Author: Morgan Spurlock
Publisher: Harvill Secker

You gotta love Morgan Spurlock.

The man sacrificed his own health on a month long diet of nothing but McDonalds to bring us the documentary Supersize Me.

Having now shed the 11 kgs gained and recovered from the liver dysfunction and depression that resulted from his Mac Attack, Morgan has decided to do the one thing that the American military cannot; find the world’s most wanted man – Osama bin Laden.

The impetuous for travelling to some of the most “hostile” nations on earth is the impending arrival of Morgan’s first baby. Is it safe to bring an infant into today’s world when anti-Muslim and anti-American feeling runs so high and the threat of terrorism invading people’s consciousness like never before?

Morgan decides to find out, starting at the scene of the largest attack on US soil since Pearl Harbour, New York City. Osama isn’t likely to be hiding there (or if he is, he has a very good disguise!) but NYC does have many experts who can give Morgan the knowledge of who Osama is and what they think makes the man tick and why extremist groups the world over have so embraced him.

And so from there to England, a country that for decades lived with IRA terrorist attacks as a part of daily life, France, Egypt, Morocco, two of the most contentious countries in the Middle East Israel and Palestine, Osama’s birth land Saudi Arabia, the first battle ground for the “War on Terror” Afghanistan and the deepest, darkest lawless tribal lands of Pakistan.

The book is a fabulous way to break down the misconceptions and prejudices many westerners hold on to towards the Muslim world. Through Morgan’s experiences we see that fundamentalism is just a tiny proportion of the population, most are the most generous kind-hearted people you could hope to meet. After all, how many westerners do you know that live in such extreme poverty they are one meal away from starvation yet are willing to share their meagre food resources with a complete stranger – a stranger that some in your home land would say was your deadly enemy.

And of course all this serious political and religious stuff is infused with the wonderful dry wit only Morgan Spurlock can bring. And the odd tender, emotional moment too as he thinks of his heavily pregnant wife back home.

Does he answer the question of Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? Well maybe not, but sometimes the journey is more important than the destination and this is certainly true of this book.

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