• View author and book videos on our YouTube channel.

  • A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb

    Author(s):
    Pages: 232
    Illustrations: 13 photographs
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World, excluding South Asia
  • Cloth: $89.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-4562-6
  • Paperback: $24.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-4578-7
  • Quantity
  • Add To Bag
  • Acknowledgments xi

    Prologue: A Missile in the Living Room 1

    Introduction: Have You Seen This Man? 13

    Part I. Lakhani

    1. Birth of a Salesman 33

    2. The Late Career of the Sting Operation 58

    3. The Art of Surveillance 66

    4. The Terror and the Pity 92

    Part II. Siraj

    5. I Have Delivered the Pizza 111

    6. A Collaborator in Kashmir 141

    7. A Night in an Army Camp 151

    8. Tourist-Theorist-Terrorist 162

    Epilogue: We Are the World 179

    Notes 186

    Bibliography 199

    Index 202
  • A Foreigner Carrying In The Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb is a valuable book, a nearly academic (and therefore highly meticulous) inquiry into anti-terrorism. In the past ten years, we have seen war through the eyes of artists and through the eyes of journalists, but Kumar's middle ground brings something different to the discourse, and allows him to analyse both these responses as well.”

    “[A] fascinating tour through the creative response to the war on terror; and an acute analysis of the hidden assumptions behind, and implications of, the West’s new culture of ‘homeland security.’”

    “[A] thought-provoking, engaging, and scary narrative of the global outcome of the war on terrorism post 9/11. . . . Kumar shows the reader that the fear of suspicion, ever-expanding claustrophobia, and the license to stereotype and make generalizations is prevalent in the world we live in today. It is a potent reminder.”

    “[A] thought-provoking, incisive, and intelligent look at America’s war on terror and its linkages to terrorism in India. . . . Kumar’s reportage is a compelling read; his portraits of different men — Siraj, Lakhani, Geelani, Prakash — rendered with the deft hand of a talented writer. He is careful to explore the many dimensions of each case and to provide a nuanced and balanced picture. At the same time, he levels a searing critique of the practices of nations that pride themselves on their democratic principles.”

    “[An] eloquent analysis of the weird cocktail of buffoonery, violence and inefficacy that is the War on Terror. . . .”

    “[Kumar] sheds light on the human costs of the global war on terror and reminds us that the unwitting victims caught in the dragnet are more than just a statistic—they are real people like you and me. Almost as sobering is the realization that by zeroing in on these peripheral targets, the war on terror has become even more misguided and expensive than we have known it to be.”

    “[O]ffer[s] a reasoned, empathetic account of a subject about which people are passionate—torture. . . . Kumar’s account can serve as a call for humanizing counterterrorism strategies and tactics. An invaluable resource for students of war and terrorism—in any discipline. Essential.”

    “A disturbing look, in a somewhat meandering but consistently engaging tour, at part of the 'war on terror', in the US and abroad, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of his Arm a Tiny Bomb is a useful reminder of how wrong things have gone (and continue to go wrong) and if only in making readers aware of some of these issues already serves a useful purpose.”

    “Addressing important issues of identity, immigration, foreignness, religious tolerance, stereotyping, torture, war, national security, civil liberties, cultural production, and surveillance in its relatively brief two hundred or so pages, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb is a hugely impressive work. Instructors looking to introduce their students to some of the complexities of our current globalized age of terror, would be hard pressed to find a better—or more thought provoking—place to begin.”

    “Amitava Kumar writes like few other writers―of Asian descent or not―in that he writes with his whole self. . . . We are often exhorted in the subways in this city―if we see something, say something. Luckily for us, that is exactly what Amitava Kumar has done.”

    “By focusing on the banality of the state’s cases against the old, the infirm, the misfits, the ill-suited, Kumar reminds us that the war raging far from our doorsteps is also all around us. . . . [A] clear challenge to the ossified discourse on terrorism in the United States.”

    “Kumar’s searching and humane account of the global consequences of the U.S. ‘war on terror’ gets behind the rhetoric and state public relations campaigns in a brisk but thoughtful narrative. . . . An arresting and heartrending work of public protest and valuable social analysis, this work contributes forcefully to a subtle, human-scaled accounting of 21st-century geopolitics.”

    “Kumar's study (think Jane Mayer's The Dark Side meets Coco Fusco's protest art) reveals how deeply the figure of the ‘terrorist’ has seeped into our imaginations by brilliantly synthesizing straight reportage—on the Mumbai blasts and the trials of two putative terrorists in New York—and contemporary conceptual art's responses to “’he war on terror.’“

    “Much of the success of this book comes from the honing of this mercurial style and voice; gaining authority over these many books, this voice is now recognizable as Kumar’s own. And here, the meandering—through almost every aspect of the domestic ‘war on terror,’ and to moribund destinations ranging from Srinagar (the capital of battered and besieged Kashmir) to the federal penitentiary in Springfield, Missouri—is wonderful and thought provoking. . . . This is the kind of sophisticated synthesis that only a talented writer immersed in the many facets of his subject can pull off.”

    Foreigner is part contemporary history, part investigative journalism, part political treatise, part memoir – and an absolute must-read. . . . Kumar is an excellent storyteller. He’s also immensely convincing. Drawing on his vast, voracious knowledge of literature, film, television, and breaking headlines, Kumar makes a case that post-9/11 fear has created a not-so-brave new world of bullies and fools.”

    “[A] perceptive and soulful . . . meditation on the global war on terror and its cultural and human repercussions. . . . A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb carries in the crook of its own arm Mr. Kumar’s plaintive appeal. If we’re to bridge the perilous divide that separates us from those poor and unnamed people who resent us, we first need to see them, to look into their eyes. We need, Mr. Kumar writes, 'to acknowledge that they exist.' This angry and artful book is a first step."

    “[A]n essential book for our times.”

    “After you read [A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb], you will never look at the global war on terror in the same way again. You will, also, finally know how to look at the war on terror, especially as it is fought here. . . . [S]tunningly researched, brilliantly thoughtful, boldly imagined and courageously executed. I can't think of a more urgent, important and necessary book for us this year. You should rush to read it.”

    “Full of sublime narratives and subtle descriptions, it is a thoroughly fantastic book. The best thing about Kumar's writing is that seldom does he allow his personal prejudices to creep into the text. He acts more like a cameraman of a documentary film showing you a plethora of images. He also knows what to focus on, and when to zoom in or out. Then he leaves you free to reach your own conclusions. Like his earlier book Husband of a Fanatic, it is a must buy. And, of course, a must read too.”

    “More than a piece of reportage, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb illuminates the dangers to civil liberties from extraordinary governmental powers and torture’s questionable effectiveness. . . . Whatever one’s views on 9/11 and its accompanying legal changes, the use of torture, or the war on terror, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb is a worthwhile read. Kumar’s perspective is one not often seen in American writings on similar subjects. That alone would recommend the book; the high quality of the writing should secure its place on any library shelf.”

    “Moving fluidly between his adopted U.S. home and his birthplace of India – another country altered by concerns over terrorism – Kumar carefully exposes what he sees as the senseless abuse of power justified by the so-called ‘war on terror.’”

    Reviews

  • A Foreigner Carrying In The Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb is a valuable book, a nearly academic (and therefore highly meticulous) inquiry into anti-terrorism. In the past ten years, we have seen war through the eyes of artists and through the eyes of journalists, but Kumar's middle ground brings something different to the discourse, and allows him to analyse both these responses as well.”

    “[A] fascinating tour through the creative response to the war on terror; and an acute analysis of the hidden assumptions behind, and implications of, the West’s new culture of ‘homeland security.’”

    “[A] thought-provoking, engaging, and scary narrative of the global outcome of the war on terrorism post 9/11. . . . Kumar shows the reader that the fear of suspicion, ever-expanding claustrophobia, and the license to stereotype and make generalizations is prevalent in the world we live in today. It is a potent reminder.”

    “[A] thought-provoking, incisive, and intelligent look at America’s war on terror and its linkages to terrorism in India. . . . Kumar’s reportage is a compelling read; his portraits of different men — Siraj, Lakhani, Geelani, Prakash — rendered with the deft hand of a talented writer. He is careful to explore the many dimensions of each case and to provide a nuanced and balanced picture. At the same time, he levels a searing critique of the practices of nations that pride themselves on their democratic principles.”

    “[An] eloquent analysis of the weird cocktail of buffoonery, violence and inefficacy that is the War on Terror. . . .”

    “[Kumar] sheds light on the human costs of the global war on terror and reminds us that the unwitting victims caught in the dragnet are more than just a statistic—they are real people like you and me. Almost as sobering is the realization that by zeroing in on these peripheral targets, the war on terror has become even more misguided and expensive than we have known it to be.”

    “[O]ffer[s] a reasoned, empathetic account of a subject about which people are passionate—torture. . . . Kumar’s account can serve as a call for humanizing counterterrorism strategies and tactics. An invaluable resource for students of war and terrorism—in any discipline. Essential.”

    “A disturbing look, in a somewhat meandering but consistently engaging tour, at part of the 'war on terror', in the US and abroad, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of his Arm a Tiny Bomb is a useful reminder of how wrong things have gone (and continue to go wrong) and if only in making readers aware of some of these issues already serves a useful purpose.”

    “Addressing important issues of identity, immigration, foreignness, religious tolerance, stereotyping, torture, war, national security, civil liberties, cultural production, and surveillance in its relatively brief two hundred or so pages, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb is a hugely impressive work. Instructors looking to introduce their students to some of the complexities of our current globalized age of terror, would be hard pressed to find a better—or more thought provoking—place to begin.”

    “Amitava Kumar writes like few other writers―of Asian descent or not―in that he writes with his whole self. . . . We are often exhorted in the subways in this city―if we see something, say something. Luckily for us, that is exactly what Amitava Kumar has done.”

    “By focusing on the banality of the state’s cases against the old, the infirm, the misfits, the ill-suited, Kumar reminds us that the war raging far from our doorsteps is also all around us. . . . [A] clear challenge to the ossified discourse on terrorism in the United States.”

    “Kumar’s searching and humane account of the global consequences of the U.S. ‘war on terror’ gets behind the rhetoric and state public relations campaigns in a brisk but thoughtful narrative. . . . An arresting and heartrending work of public protest and valuable social analysis, this work contributes forcefully to a subtle, human-scaled accounting of 21st-century geopolitics.”

    “Kumar's study (think Jane Mayer's The Dark Side meets Coco Fusco's protest art) reveals how deeply the figure of the ‘terrorist’ has seeped into our imaginations by brilliantly synthesizing straight reportage—on the Mumbai blasts and the trials of two putative terrorists in New York—and contemporary conceptual art's responses to “’he war on terror.’“

    “Much of the success of this book comes from the honing of this mercurial style and voice; gaining authority over these many books, this voice is now recognizable as Kumar’s own. And here, the meandering—through almost every aspect of the domestic ‘war on terror,’ and to moribund destinations ranging from Srinagar (the capital of battered and besieged Kashmir) to the federal penitentiary in Springfield, Missouri—is wonderful and thought provoking. . . . This is the kind of sophisticated synthesis that only a talented writer immersed in the many facets of his subject can pull off.”

    Foreigner is part contemporary history, part investigative journalism, part political treatise, part memoir – and an absolute must-read. . . . Kumar is an excellent storyteller. He’s also immensely convincing. Drawing on his vast, voracious knowledge of literature, film, television, and breaking headlines, Kumar makes a case that post-9/11 fear has created a not-so-brave new world of bullies and fools.”

    “[A] perceptive and soulful . . . meditation on the global war on terror and its cultural and human repercussions. . . . A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb carries in the crook of its own arm Mr. Kumar’s plaintive appeal. If we’re to bridge the perilous divide that separates us from those poor and unnamed people who resent us, we first need to see them, to look into their eyes. We need, Mr. Kumar writes, 'to acknowledge that they exist.' This angry and artful book is a first step."

    “[A]n essential book for our times.”

    “After you read [A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb], you will never look at the global war on terror in the same way again. You will, also, finally know how to look at the war on terror, especially as it is fought here. . . . [S]tunningly researched, brilliantly thoughtful, boldly imagined and courageously executed. I can't think of a more urgent, important and necessary book for us this year. You should rush to read it.”

    “Full of sublime narratives and subtle descriptions, it is a thoroughly fantastic book. The best thing about Kumar's writing is that seldom does he allow his personal prejudices to creep into the text. He acts more like a cameraman of a documentary film showing you a plethora of images. He also knows what to focus on, and when to zoom in or out. Then he leaves you free to reach your own conclusions. Like his earlier book Husband of a Fanatic, it is a must buy. And, of course, a must read too.”

    “More than a piece of reportage, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb illuminates the dangers to civil liberties from extraordinary governmental powers and torture’s questionable effectiveness. . . . Whatever one’s views on 9/11 and its accompanying legal changes, the use of torture, or the war on terror, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb is a worthwhile read. Kumar’s perspective is one not often seen in American writings on similar subjects. That alone would recommend the book; the high quality of the writing should secure its place on any library shelf.”

    “Moving fluidly between his adopted U.S. home and his birthplace of India – another country altered by concerns over terrorism – Kumar carefully exposes what he sees as the senseless abuse of power justified by the so-called ‘war on terror.’”

  • “Amitava Kumar has written a unique book. It is ultimately a book about neoliberalism, about the public interest defined as militarism rather than as well-being. It is a book about the imagination reduced to suspicion and fear rather than hope and liberty. It is a book that swells from India to Indiana, depicting the global ecology of antiterrorism.” — Vijay Prashad, author of The Darker Nations. A People's History of the Third World

  • Permission to Photocopy (coursepacks)

    If you are requesting permission to photocopy material for classroom use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center at copyright.com;

    If the Copyright Clearance Center cannot grant permission, you may request permission from our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Permission to Reprint

    If you are requesting permission to reprint DUP material (journal or book selection) in another book or in any other format, contact our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Images/Art

    Many images/art used in material copyrighted by Duke University Press are controlled, not by the Press, but by the owner of the image. Please check the credit line adjacent to the illustration, as well as the front and back matter of the book for a list of credits. You must obtain permission directly from the owner of the image. Occasionally, Duke University Press controls the rights to maps or other drawings. Please direct permission requests for these images to permissions@dukeupress.edu.
    For book covers to accompany reviews, please contact the publicity department.

    Subsidiary Rights/Foreign Translations

    If you're interested in a Duke University Press book for subsidiary rights/translations, please contact permissions@dukeupress.edu. Include the book title/author, rights sought, and estimated print run.

    Disability Requests

    Instructions for requesting an electronic text on behalf of a student with disabilities are available here.

    Rights & Permissions Contact Information

    Email: permissions@dukeupress.edu
    Email contact for coursepacks: asstpermissions@dukeupress.edu
    Fax: 919-688-4574
    Mail:
    Duke University Press
    Rights and Permissions
    905 W. Main Street
    Suite 18B
    Durham, NC 27701

    For all requests please include:
    1. Author's name. If book has an editor that is different from the article author, include editor's name also.
    2. Title of the journal article or book chapter and title of journal or title of book
    3. Page numbers (if excerpting, provide specifics)
    For coursepacks, please also note: The number of copies requested, the school and professor requesting
    For reprints and subsidiary rights, please also note: Your volume title, publication date, publisher, print run, page count, rights sought
  • Description

    Part reportage and part protest, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb is an inquiry into the cultural logic and global repercussions of the war on terror. At its center are two men convicted in U.S. courts on terrorism-related charges: Hemant Lakhani, a seventy-year-old tried for attempting to sell a fake missile to an FBI informant, and Shahawar Matin Siraj, baited by the New York Police Department into a conspiracy to bomb a subway. Lakhani and Siraj were caught through questionable sting operations involving paid informants; both men received lengthy jail sentences. Their convictions were celebrated as major victories in the war on terror. In Amitava Kumar’s riveting account of their cases, Lakhani and Siraj emerge as epic bunglers, and the U.S. government as the creator of terror suspects to prosecute. Kumar analyzed the trial transcripts and media coverage, and he interviewed Lakhani, Siraj, their families, and their lawyers. Juxtaposing such stories of entrapment in the United States with narratives from India, another site of multiple terror attacks and state crackdowns, Kumar explores the harrowing experiences of ordinary people entangled in the war on terror. He also considers the fierce critiques of post-9/11 surveillance and security regimes by soldiers and torture victims, as well as artists and writers, including Coco Fusco, Paul Shambroom, and Arundhati Roy.

    About The Author(s)

    Amitava Kumar is a novelist, poet, journalist, and Professor of English at Vassar College. He is the author of Husband of a Fanatic, a New York Times “Editors’ Choice”; Bombay-London-New York, a New Statesman (UK) “Book of the Year”; and Passport Photos. He is the editor of several books, including Away: The Indian Writer as an Expatriate, The Humour and the Pity: Essays on V.S. Naipaul, and World Bank Literature. He is also an editor of the online journal Politics and Culture and the screenwriter and narrator of the prize-winning documentary film Pure Chutney. Kumar’s writing has appeared in the Nation, Harper’s, Vanity Fair, American Prospect, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Hindu, and other publications in North America and India.

Explore More
Share

Create a reading list or add to an existing list. Sign-in or register now to continue.


Contact Us

  • Duke University Press
  • 905 W. Main St. Ste 18-B
  • Durham, NC 27701
  • U.S. phone (toll-free): 888-651-0122
  • International: 1-919-688-5134
  • orders@dukeupress.edu