Abdulramah Zeitoun is a Syrian born father of five with a thriving building company in New Orleans. When Katrina hit six years ago, he stayed behind to care for his company properties while his family fled for safety. Travelling on a second-hand canoe he had bought off the cuff a few years previously, Zeitoun ended up serving an amazing purpose, saving people’s lives, bringing food and water to those trapped and distressed and caring for animals left behind in the aftermath of the storm.

Then he ended up being arrested from his own home by unidentified officers on spurious charges of looting, suspected of being a member of Al Qaeda, imprisoned in a Gitmo style exposed cage and held captive for weeks without anyone notifying his family and friends who grew resigned to him having died in the flood.

If more Americans knew of the insidious racism at the heart of the Western empire that was revealed by Katrina, the world would be a safer place. This book is a heartbreaking work of staggering maturity from Eggers and is worth your time.

She [his wife Kathy] wants to find out who the missionary was, the man who met her husband in prison and took her phone number – the messenger. The man who risked something in the name of mercy.

But did he risk so much? Not really. Usually you needn’t risk so much to right a wrong. It’s not so complicated. It’s the opposite of complicated. To dial a number given to you by a man in a cage, to tell the voice on the other end, “I saw him.” Is that complicated? Is that an act of great heroism in the United States of America?

It should not be so.

Your Correspondent, Famous for his short fiction about books

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