James Hider - The Spiders of Allah (4 stars)

James Hider - The Spiders of Allah



This first book by James Hider, Middle Eastern Bureau Chief for The Times, is essential stuff for anyone concerned with the dangerous condition of the region in the 21st century – and that should be just about everybody. However, not for the reasons outlined on the dust jacket: Hider’s framing of his experiences, principally in Iraq, in the atheistic context of the God Delusion reads like a hastily conceived afterthought; in essence, this book is simply a work of solid, captivating, gutsy war reportage.

Like any good foreign correspondent, Hider has a nose for a terrifying scrape, and writes with grim humour and sober authority even as the sheer madness of religious bloodletting peaks around him. When you discover that a goat wearing underpants becomes a life or death matter in modern Iraq, you shouldn’t need anyone to spell out that blind, extreme faith is a hopelessly weird and poisonous force.

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