Books · reviews

Rainy day reading

It’s raining again today so I’m having a lovely day indoors all snuggled up with lots of coffee, crafts, coursework and reading.


I’m only on page 58 of this book so this is in no way a full review, I’m terrible at book reviews anyway. This book was a recommendation from The Mister who heard William Sampson being interviewed on the radio – The Jeremy Vine show – and said he was really interesting. He read it on holiday years ago and loved it, it’s one of his all-time favourite books.

Basically, this guy is working in Saudi Arabia and gets arrested suspected of terrorism but it’s all a complete fabrication, bombs have gone off but the authorities tactics are that they’re not too bothered about investigating the crime, it’s more about finding a person to blame and then make up evidence to suit and get confessions using torture. It’s terrifying stuff.

What happens is awful but my first impressions are that these people all opened themselves to arrest. The people that have got in serious trouble are not from Saudi Arabia, they’re mainly Europeans and Americans who have chosen to live and work in a country that has very strict rules about behaviour, most obviously alcohol is illegal but also there are very strict rules about modesty and interaction between men and women. The author says most of the people he knew had gone to live and work there to dodge taxes, so to my mind these are people with a pretty dodgy moral footing to start with. We pay our taxes so that we can support a kind society. If you dodge your taxes you’re sticking two fingers up to social care, education, justice etc etc. Back to the book. These people then thought that it was ok for them to brew their own alcohol and even open illegal bars and clubs selling booze because they’re ‘ex pats’ so expect the police to turn a blind eye.

It’s not ok. It’s massively disrespectful. You can’t pitch up in another country and pick and choose which laws you think are appropriate. Sure campaign for change, absolutely highlight injustice but the arrogance of going to a ‘dry’ country and then engaging in a piss-up was always going to end in tears. Especially when you suspect the police and security to be corrupt and brutal. It’s a dangerous gamble to take for some crappy home brew.

So things start to go wrong. Someone has let off bombs and has injured some people so the police start raiding homes and arresting people when they find alcohol on the premises. I think terrible things are about to happen to this man and his friends and of course it shouldn’t have happened and their treatment is a disgrace to Saudi Arabia, but so far I don’t like these people.

I’m not confident that I’ll read this to the end, if the descriptions of torture are too graphic for me I’ll stop reading. The Mister wants to read this again so it’s a keeper but not something I would have chosen to read.

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