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August 31st 2010 print

Daryl McCann

Courage in Flight

 Nomad: A Personal Journey through the Clash of Civilizations, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali; HarperCollins, 2010, 304 pages, $35. Few have experienced a more precipitous learning curve than Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Somalia’s most famous (or notorious, depending on your perspective) emigrant has completed a second autobiography, Nomad, at the relatively young age of forty. If her life continues to be as eventful as it has been until now—and her round-the-clock security regime does its job properly—we may see many more memoirs penned by the brave and articulate Hirsi Ali.                  During her childhood Hirsi Ali found herself living not only in Somalia but also Kenya, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia, mostly because her father was a leading political opponent of Somalia’s then dictator, President Barre. The tribal world depicted by Hirsi Ali is tough and brutal. Nomad begins with the difficult lives endured by her closest relations, including her mother, father, brother and half-sister, but unlike her previous memoir, Infidel, we now follow them to the present. Though cut off from her family and the “web of values” that inform them, Hirsi Ali tries to re-establish familial connections. Sadly, the barriers—cultural, religious and geographic—prove insurmountable. Her description of the secret (and heart-wrenching) reunion with her dying father in 2008 says it all.

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