Author: M. Salahuddin Khan

Publisher: Karakoram Press
ISBN 978-0-587-05288-5

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Mr. Khan, author of Sikander, is of Indian descent. (2010, p.571) He has lived and worked in Pakistan, England, USA, and elsewhere. Mr. Khan attended the University of Southampton in England where he got his bachelors degree in aeronautics and astronautics. He has worked as consultant, producer, designer, engineer, artist, writer, inventor, as well as, held executive positions for major organizations. Currently he calls Lake Forest, IL home.

Sikander is the moving, coming of age, story of a young Pakistani man. This tale begins with Sikander in high school looking forward to college and his future, for which he has high hopes and aspirations. Sikander’s family was affluent, but fell upon hard times because of a less that credible business dealing his father made. On the brink of failure Sikander and his father have words. Distraught Sikander leaves and embarks on a dangerous and amazing new life. He ends up in Afghanistan fighting with the Afghan forces against the Soviets and makes many new lifetime friends who eventually become family. As the Soviets leave Afghanistan Sikander comes back home to Pakistan where his family meets his new Afghan wife and they settle in to upper middle Pakistani life.

An interesting facet of this book is that it is presented from the Muslim perspective and covers a lot of history in the Middle East. There are numerous references to Muslim culture and it was fun for me to learn more about this complex religion and her people. It touches on the importance of family and reverence to religion as applied to the Qur’an, but far from the extremism that many in America believe is part and parcel of Islam. It is about love, commitment, forgiveness, and inner peace. I really enjoyed the learning process.

As America ramps up taking over where the Soviets left off in the wake of 9/11 in Afghanistan Sikander feels compelled to bring his wife’s family over into Pakistan where they can be safer than remaining in war torn Afghanistan. It is a long and arduous trek inside Afghanistan and back. They are in the homestretch of this exodus and relocation when Sikander is shot, captured, and treated as “enemy combatant” by US forces. He is wounded, tortured regularly, and moved to Guantanamo, Cuba to see if he will finally confess to being Taliban or Al Qaeda. He never confesses and reveals little information because he was not in that loop. Beaten, battered, and bruised eventually he is freed and allowed to go back to Pakistan to resume his life with his family. The scars are deep, both physically and mentally, from his experiences with the many and various means of torture. He undergoes therapy and tries to forget and forgive, finally making peace with himself, and his tormentors, in the process.

Sikander takes over the thriving family business and expands it into America where he and his extremely wealthy family eventually move because they feel the educational system is better than Pakistan for their three children. They are very happy and things are going quite well until an unfortunate accident changes their lives forever.

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