Sunday, February 14, 2016

And Then All Hell Broke Loose

Richard Engel

Based on two decades of reporting, NBC’s chief foreign correspondent’s riveting story of the Middle East revolutions, the Arab Spring, war, and terrorism seen up-close—sometimes dangerously so.

When he was just twenty-three, a recent graduate of Stanford University, Richard Engel set off to Cairo with $2,000 and dreams of being a reporter. Shortly thereafter he was working freelance for Arab news sources and got a call that a busload of Italian tourists were massacred at a Cairo museum. This is his first view of the carnage these years would pile on. Over two decades Engel has been under fire, blown out of hotel beds, taken hostage. He has watched Mubarak and Morsi in Egypt arrested and condemned, reported from Jerusalem, been through the Lebanese war, covered the whole shooting match in Iraq, interviewed Libyan rebels who toppled Gaddafi, reported from Syria as Al-Qaeda stepped in, was kidnapped in the Syrian crosscurrents of fighting. He goes into Afghanistan with the Taliban and to Iraq with ISIS. In the page-turning And Then All Hell Broke Loose, he shares his adventure tale.

Engel takes chances, though not reckless ones, keeps a level head and a sense of humor, as well as a grasp of history in the making. Reporting as NBC’s Chief-Foreign Correspondent, he reveals his unparalleled access to the major figures, the gritty soldiers, and the helpless victims in the Middle East during this watershed time. We can experience the unforgettable suffering and despair of the local populations. Engel’s vivid description is intimate and personal. Importantly, it is a succinct and authoritative account of the ever-changing currents in that dangerous land. (from Netgalley)
My Thoughts
I doubt I am the only person who is totally confused by the Middle East. Between different religious beliefs, tribal disputes and politics, it sure is an area ripe for turmoil. The little snippets of information we get on the evening news, in newspapers or online do little to help the average person understand all the dynamics involved. This book appealed to me because it is a topic I am interested in and comes from someone who has spent time in the area.
Mr. Engel has written a straightforward book based on his 20 year experience of reporting in the area. He outlines the history of the Middle East in simple terms, even though there is nothing simple about the area. His explanations provided insight into the background of the many news stories we have seen over the years. I felt the majority of the book was based on fact, with the occasional personal analysis as to how the government of the USA has failed in it’s attempt to stabilize the area. Whether someone agrees or disagrees with his analysis, I will say they made sense and comes from someone with a credible background.
My thanks to Simon & Schuster, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

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