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The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas Hardcover – May 5, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (May 5, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393239500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393239508
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Journalist Giridharadas’ eloquent, ­bordering-on-academic examination of the 2001 xenophobic murders and attempted murder by self-described Dallas biker Mark Stroman of people he perceived as Muslims bears stark witness to ideological weaknesses woven throughout twentieth-century American culture. He closely follows events leading up to and following Stroman’s rage-fueled killing spree that took place on the heels of the 9/11 attacks, including his trial, conviction, and sentencing. This rampage left two dead and Raisuddin (Rais) Bhuiyan critically injured.Giridharadas alternates between the two men’s stories, including their personal histories, interviews with families and friends, and courtroom coverage. But it is by letting convicted murderer Stroman and the others speak for themselves via extensive quotes that the inconsistencies and cognitive dissonances of ideological thinking become achingly clear. The primary incongruity, alluded to in the oxymoronic subtitle, is Bhuiyan’s determined, if failed, attempt to rescue Stroman from the death penalty. From murder to execution, forgiveness, personal responsibility, governmental intervention and more, there are enough dichotomies here to fuel heated book-club discussions for years. --Donna Chavez

Review

“Exhilarating and deeply affecting, Giridharadas’s book is not only a captivating narrative; it reminds us of the immigrant’s journey at the heart of the American story and how, in the wake of violent tragedy, one new to our country can help us to see through to the best in ourselves, even when the law requires far less.” (Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University)

“Anand Giridharadas has written a book that is simply impossible to put down. Just when we thought that we had read everything we could possibly absorb about 9/11, The True American finds a new and compelling perspective, one that explores two sharply opposed dimensions of the American experience in a style that neither celebrates nor condemns. We readers become the jury, weighing what it means to be a true American today.” (Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of the New America Foundation)

“Competing visions of the American Dream clash in this rich account of a hate crime and its unlikely reverberations….Giridharadas’ s evocative reportage captures the starkly contrasting, but complementary struggles of these men with sympathy and insight, setting them in a Texas landscape of strip malls and gas stations that is at once a moonscape of social anomie and a welcoming blank slate for a newcomer seeking to assimilate. The result is a classic story of arrival with a fresh and absorbing twist.” (Publishers Weekly (Starred Review))

“An unforgettable story about two men caught in the jaws of history. In this compassionate, tenacious, and deeply intelligent book, Giridharadas casts brilliant new illumination on what we mean by ‘American.’” (Teju Cole, author of Open City)

“Meticulously reconstructs two lives that collided in horrific fashion… A compelling, nuanced look at the shifting, volatile meaning of American identity In the post-9/11 era.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Eloquent… From murder to execution, forgiveness, personal responsibility, governmental intervention and more, there are enough dichotomies here to fuel heated book-club discussions for years.” (Booklist)

“Moving and indelible… manifestly inspirational… a finely textured portrait of lower-class despair.” (Laura Miller - Salon)

“The suspense in this book runs deeper than whether Stroman will live or die. Mr. Giridharadas is most interested in examining the viability of the American dream… an enterprising and clear-eyed reporter. ” (Stephen Harrington - Wall Street Journal)

“A riveting tale, dense with detail, from Giridharadas’ unflinching descriptions of the struggling neighborhoods on the eastern edge of Dallas, to Stroman’s troubled and brutal childhood, to the ebullient optimism of these new Americans determined to create better lives.” (Michael E. Young - Dallas Morning News)

“A compelling narrative of crime, forgiveness and redemption.” (Catherine Hollis - BookPage)

“A truly fine book.” (David Brooks)

“Gives you new eyes on your nation, makes you wonder about both the recent South Asian immigrant behind the counter at the food mart and the tattooed white man behind you in line. It reminds you that there are some Americas where mercy flows freely, and other Americas where it has turned to ice.” (Eboo Patel - Washington Post)

“Thoroughly compelling… masterful.” (Kate Tuttle - Boston Globe)

“The characters are too fascinating to miss.” (Amy Kamp - Austin Chronicle)

“An intellectually agile and incessantly compelling portrait of post-9/11 America—or what we are and of what we might become.” (Padma Viswanathan - Rumpus)

More About the Author

Anand Giridharadas is a columnist for The New York Times, writing the Admit One series for its arts pages and the Letter from America for its global edition. Born in Ohio and educated at Oxford, Harvard, and the University of Michigan, he is the author of "India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation's Remaking." He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

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Amazing story of compassion and forgiveness.
Art Nolan
It wasn't until I read this book that I understood what are the things that make this country amazing and horrible at the same time.
Maria Raquel Wainagretn
The writing is excellent, and this true story is so compelling and engaging.
E. McKee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Varelas on April 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover
You don't know America unless you have read The True American. The American Dream that we grew up with and defined hope and success for generations is forever gone. This book goes far beyond income inequality and other issues that permeate today's political and social debates to the root causes for a fractious America. If you like your non fiction told with a fascinating story while making you question long held beliefs then you will find The True American a great and memorable read. The last 100 pages reveal more about the effects of the cycle of poverty and violence than anything I have ever read. Which is the cherry on top of a powerful ride through the mind of a killer and the lives he changed forever, both for the worse and thankfully in one instance for the good.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Brian Schechter on April 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I rated this book 5 because I've never read a book that so artfully combined a sensational political story while staying absolutely close to the fantastically normal human beings involved.

There is a profound dearth, a bizarre silence in the US, when it comes honest discussion about personal responsibility, societal discipline, drugs, religion, race, violence, fear of the other, and the deep deep psychic pain that so many carry tied to these things.

And in True American, you get a high-voltage (not over the top) empathy transmitter.

It's a sad and inspiring book that is so measured that it'll leave you with a touch of hope and fear for our future...and it shows you that both are needed.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Rohan Gopaldas on April 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Extremely grateful to the author for discovering this incredible story. Reporting and storytelling at this level of detail and insight is truly a rarity today. I read so my outlook on the world expands in ways I never thought possible. I read with the hope that change is inspired within. "The True American" accomplishes these feats many times over.
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Format: Hardcover
I simply couldn't put this down and secretly snuck away to read it at work. The story is consistently captivating and the descriptions perfectly capture many of the painful nuances and realities of living in America today while maintaining a sense of hope and opportunity. It is an exceptional work and will have a profound impact on anyone who reads it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nora Abousteit on April 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book in two days.

I felt that I knew the characters personally, I could see and feel them. The detailed description of characters and scenes, combined with quotes from court documents and letters and blogs made me feel like I was part of the story.

The book gave me deep insight into some distressed and hopeful souls that all want to belong and struggle to find their identity as Americans. A powerful cultural dissection that should become part of every school's syllabus.

The True American is one of the most moving books I've read in a long time and I believe everyone must read it to understand contemporary American life and its implications for the future of a multicultural society.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kate K on April 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is the kind of book that stays with you for months after you read it. It reads like gripping fiction, but it is meticulously researched to present true life events. You come to know the characters as if they were real people in your own life, and you are also forced to contend with some of the disturbing effects of "the American dream." This is a very real side of America, presented in the raw, as a snapshot in time.
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Format: Hardcover
I never thought that just one story would take me through this emotional ride and make me think about the building blocks of America. It made me think what an american is, what america is, and how forgiving is actually a healing process for the forgiver more than to the actual person being forgiven. Anywan trying to understand the US should read it!.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Heidi J Dolnick on April 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover
A fascinating, compelling narrative that sharply captures contemporary life in the US. A fantastic addition to the shelf of great new narrative non-fiction.
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