A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

“The book ends differently than the movie”: Body of Lies

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on October 28, 2008

Those of you living in the United States have probably heard about the new Ridley Scott movie, Body of Lies. It came out earlier this month: another CIA-in-the-Middle-East adventure flick, starring Matt Damon and Russell Crowe.

You might not have wanted to see it in any case, given what the New York Times called its “grinding tedium”. And you may have been turned off by what even reviewers noted was an improbable romance between Damon’s character and a Jordan-based Iranian refugee nurse (They scoffed at the religious and cultural differences, but readers with experience in the region will be scratching their heads at the thought of Iranians in Jordan. The Iranian refugees I know all live in Damascus.)

Well, guess what? As my AP English literature teacher used to say in high school: the book ends differently than the movie. And in this case, the book begins and middles differently than the movie, too.

You will love this book. The characters are beautifully drawn – they come alive immediately. The region is aptly portrayed, with the minor exception of the one hospital scene, which takes place not in Amman but in Tripoli. (Who goes to Tripoli for non-emergency medical care, when Beirut is only two hours away?)

I’m not going to tell you the plot, but I am going to tell you that it is not only very different, but much better than the movie.

And I will give you a few hints.

First, the main character’s name is Roger Ferris.

Second, his dearly departed grandfather spoke very little and only vaguely about his origins in the “Balkan region” of the Ottoman Empire.

Third, the Jordanian mukhabarat plays a starring role – in a good way. (When asked about torture, the director says: we find torture incredibly ineffective. But we know our reputation, and we make use of it. The sounds of screaming in the prisons? All a recording.)

Fourth, there is romance and a strong woman character (woo hoo!), but she is not Iranian.

This is not an anti-American book, and it is not an anti-CIA book. It is a gripping read, and it offers something that we need to see much more of in contemporary American literature: Muslim heroes.


4 Responses to ““The book ends differently than the movie”: Body of Lies”

  1. intlxpatr said

    Sounds like a great Christmas present for an aunt who loves to read!

  2. […] told her about Body of Lies, and she told me about Lonesome Dove, which she has been working her way through each night before […]

  3. dicaprio said

    it was not matt damon but leanrdo dicaprio that stars alongside russel crowe

  4. Bob Jay said

    Interesting that you should endorse this book as you claim it portrays Muslim(s) as hero(s). Did you not catch Farris’s comment early in the book saying something about the desert being so depressing it’s inhabitants make up a new religion every thousand years or so? Sounds like an insult of Islam to me, not being a “real” religion, but one that is “made up” (like there exist one that is not made up by man!)

    But I get the point – obviously from the Christian point of view – that Islam came along hundreds of years after Christianity, so must therefore be a joke religion. And you know what? I couldn’t agree more! Except that I feel the same way about ALL religions! But I suppose I detest the Muslims the most as they (you?) take this God crap further towards insanity than any religion. First of all, you have to be delusional to believe this god nonsense – all made up by man to control men (and especially women in your case). But the Muslims are especially crazy with the extremes, like praying five times a day (get off your damned knees and get some f**king WORK done!) and this shit-house crazy idea that you’ll go to some paradise with virgins when you die! Insane!!

    I could go on and on (don’t even get me started on evangelical Christians or jehovas whitnesses or Mormons!) but I won’t because you can’t change the mind of someone who has given their’s up to be filled with fairy tales and superstisions. The one thing I truly believe in- besides my self – is that this world would be so much better off without your stupid religions! Idiots!

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