Black Wave is a story of riches and opportunities lost. I’ve been studying Arabic with a tutor for a bit over a year now, and part of the experience of studying any language is learning both recent and deeper histories associated with the region. Black Wave was one of the ones that left the deepest mark.
This book tells the story of the Middle East since the Iranian revolution in 1979, but unlike many of the accounts I’ve read, doesn’t place the focus on Western or Soviet involvement in events. Instead, it engages with the historical and multilateral realities of these events, through the experiences and stories of those from the region. The reader’s understanding of history is shaped by stories like Jamal Khashoggi’s early experience reporting from Afghanistan, or Mehtab Channa’s navigation of a dictatorship’s political use of Islamic law in Pakistan as a female reporter developing her career.
This book has served to flush out and temper the more frequent stories of violence that tend to percolate up through Western media outlets (I’m also studying international security, so I have a bit of a filter bubble there). Similar to Bananas, Beaches, and Bases, Black Waves encourages a different lens and a different curiosity when considering news and history from the Middle East. It’s a lens that asks about the authors, the poets, the journalists, and the artists who shape the region, as much as dictators and interventionists.
Anyway, please give this book a read. Also, here is a much more expansive review from the Guardian which helped me decide on reading it in the first place.