Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Review: Tea Time With Terrorists

I recently finished Tea Time with Terrorists: A Motorcycle Journey into the Heart of Sri Lanka's Civil War. The author, Mark Stephen Meadows, and I are on the same mail list and I thought enough of his ideas to buy the book knowing nothing about it. And wow, I sure am glad I bought it.

Finding himself in Europe when 9-11 happened, Mark watched from the outside as our government and media conjured up a boogie-man of 'terrorist' that quickly took on a hype beyond even the events of that day. Questioning what he was being told to fear, and feeling that the best way to deal with fear of the unknown is to make it known, he decided to spend some time meeting some terrorists and finding out what makes them, well I suppose 'tick' is a poor choice of word.

After a little research he settled on Sri Lanka as his petri dish, flew down to the tourist capital Colombo, rented a motorcycle and headed north to the home of the Tamil Tigers and what has essentially been a war zone for ~30 years. The Tamil Tigers having the unique distinction of having invented suicide bombing and exporting that to other terrorist organizations.

Thus begins a very unique travelogue. It's part introspective, part narrative. A look at the horrors people can commit, and the beauty that people can find in living their lives despite this.

Mark comes off as two parts Indy Jones (playing motorcycle bullfighter with trucks, getting escorts at gunpoint, etc) and one part Mr Magoo (leaving the road to investigate a bombed out tank, only to realized he'd wandered to the middle of a minefield).

All the while he approaches his adventures with the type of drink-heartily-of-life gusto to which we should all aspire.

If you are looking for an insight into the mind of a terrorist (he meets and interviews several), a portrait of a beautiful country, or a great story of travel and adventure, this book is for you. It delivers on all three counts.

Tea Time with Terrorists: A Motorcycle Journey into the Heart of Sri Lanka's Civil War

2 comments:

Patrick said...

Then there's <a href="http://vimeo.com/11219730>this.</a>

kim said...

Yes, someone pointed me to that video. I was totally bummed when I realized it was NOT Shawn White's action movie debut.