THE ROAD TO MARTYR'S SQUARE: A Journey into the World of the Suicide Bomber

Anne Marie Oliver, Author, Paul F. Steinberg, Author . Oxford Univ. $28 (214p) ISBN 978-0-19-511600-7

With the beginning of the first intifada in 1987, American scholars Oliver and Steinberg spent six years living in Gaza, collecting interviews and Palestinian political ephemera, much of it related to the multifaceted organization known as Hamas, which first carried out suicide bombings during that time. The pair characterize Hamas's ideology as schizophrenic; the book they have produced feels intentionally disorienting. Part one episodically traces Hamas's development through a political biography of its leader, Sheikh Yasin (who was killed by an Israeli missile last March). Oliver and Steinberg offer a tremendous amount of anecdotal texture, giving a chilling sense of what it was like to live in Gaza as it was engulfed by an Islamism that professes "not only not to be afraid of death, but to love it passionately." Part two offers an unprecedentedly extensive set of photos, translations and interpretations of Hamas graffiti; this section is horrifying and fascinating. Part three offers the most sustained and detailed views, in English, inside the preparation and deployment of suicide bombers, featuring extended exchanges with cell members and the families of the bombers themselves. Knowledgeable, colloquial, relatively nonpartisan and deeply skeptical and smart, this book offers an intensive look at one of the major forces in Palestinian society, one that is as unsettling as it is penetrating. (Jan.)

Corrections : In the Nov. 22 review of America's Military Today by Tod Ensign, the author's current employment was misstated. Ensign is the director of Citizen Soldier, not of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Almost Paradise will, contrary to what's stated in our review (Dec. 13), include a chapter and epilogue dealing with the outcome of the trial of Daniel Pelosi for the murder of Ted Ammon.

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
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