More Serious Reading #2: Another Review

The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas by Anad Giridhardas is the true story I took on as an “assignment”, but it ended up as a good investment of my valuable reading time.  This (2014 published) book was required reading for a friend’s Texas History class, and after visiting the class, I was intrigued with the idea/theme of the book and borrowed his  copy (marked and annotated in the margins).

It is non-fiction and deals with the themes of forgiveness, immigrants in America, and some US citizens’ (over) reactions to the events of 9/11.  There is the story of Raisuddin “Rais” Bhuiyan, the  convenience store clerk from Bangladesh and Mark Stroman, a US citizen of the “redneck” mentality who shot and nearly killed Rais for no reason except that Rais was a Muslim.

The psychology behind the actions of the two men is unique in every respect.  the author gives insights into how Rais proceeded from helpless anger to forgiveness and his desire to teach forgiveness and brotherly love and into how Mark’s background and upbringing probably caused him to react to 9/11 by randomly shooting another human being. The author somehow manages to plant empathy for both men in the hearts of his readers.  He, towards the end, chronicles his own involvement with Rais’s desire to spread his message of forgiveness and Mark’s supporters’ appeals (including those of Rais and death penalty critics) for a stay of execution.  Here’s where the suspense clicks in as the minutes click down to Mark’s execution.

It was a New York Times bestseller, and its reviewer described the book as “seek[ing] less to uplift as to illuminate…” To me it was a rewarding read on several levels, very thought- provoking and opinion-forming.

I would recommend this book to individuals, book clubs, and college classes.


Author: Rae Longest

This year marks my fiftieth year in AAUW (American Association of University Women). The Alvin chapter was begun in 1947, and as a new, green teacher to Alvin Independent School District, I joined in 1968. In the 80's we began a book group to share our love of reading, books,and fellowship with other women and girls who loved the same. We resurrected the group on-line in September of 2015. Eventually Powerful Women Readers folded as an on-line book club, but I kept the title and turned it into a blog. (See "Introduction,"first blog). This is my first experience at blogging or publishing anything and is becomes more fun with each blog posted. I am currently teaching as an adjunct at The University of Houston Clear Lake. This makes my 28th year there after three years at Alvin Community College and an almost-twenty year career as a classroom teacher with Alvin Independent School District. Reading and writing are "in my blood" just like teaching is. I hope you enjoy the blog.

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