Joseph Braude *98 (Phyllis Rose)
New book: The Honored Dead: A Story of Friendship, Murder, and the Search for Truth in the Arab World, by Joseph Braude *98 (Spiegel & Grau)
The author: An American journalist born to an Iraqi-Jewish family, Braude studied Arabic and Islamic history at Princeton. His work has been published in The New Republic, Best Life, and Playboy, among other publications. He also is the author of The New Iraq: Rebuilding the Country for Its People, the Middle East, and the World (2003). To research his new book, he was embedded for four months with a Moroccan security service in Casablanca, whose detectives handle everything from terrorism to drug trafficking and homicides.
The book: Braude explores the story of an ordinary Islamic citizen whose life runs up against the underbelly of the Moroccan police. While embedded with the detectives, Braude befriends an unemployed Muslim Berber, Muhammad Bari, whose best friend has been brutally murdered in a warehouse where he had been sleeping for five years. Braude suspects a cover-up and launches his own investigation of the murder.
Opening lines: “Muhammad Bari eased out of his bedroom and opened the creaking front door just enough to make his way outside. His wife needed her sleep; she had to get up for work in an hour. Usually Bari’s best friend would be waiting for him in the alleyway and they would walk together to a nearby mosque for the dawn prayer. This morning, the alleyway was empty. Bari didn’t worry: sometimes his friend slept in until sunrise.”
Reviews: “Like a good murder mystery, the plot thickens as details flesh out, including the activities in the precinct, the family of the victim, the history of Berber and Jewish oppression in the Arab world, the ideological struggle over Islam,” wrote a critic for Kirkus Reviews. “The book is infused with the author’s sense of loss and tenderness for his mother’s native land and language, rendering this one of the most affecting, sympathetic accounts of Arab culture in recent memory. … This is a beautifully composed, deeply felt journey inside Morocco.”