kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

If you want to avoid being stereotyped, write a book

DEFINING YOUR VISION: It's the best way to get your message to the masses

READ anything interesting lately? Well, like everybody else, I do have some favourite writers, be it fiction or non-fiction, and that includes journalists and world leaders.

On the fiction side, Tom Clancy, for example, early on presented some really thrilling stories on American and Russian spies.

Michael Crichton, who passed away in 2008, was able to weave a scientific story involving what can happen now and the future.

Those who like a whodunnit will most probably stay up all night reading P. D. James, John Le Carre or John Grisham.

On the non-fiction side, among the books that are really good and informative is Thomas Ricks' Fiasco, about why the US military campaign in Iraq faces so many problems.

You would also feel enlightened reading Ron Suskind's The Way of The World, about how interconnected all of us are despite living in different regions.

Quite a number of years ago, there was Freakonomics written by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner that discussed how sumo wrestlers cheated, why drug dealers lived with their parents and patterns of children's names, among other things.

If there is one person's writing you should read, it is definitely Robert Fisk of Britain's The Independent newspaper.

He has covered the Middle East like no other journalist and his writings are very in tune with what's happening in that region.

At the other end of the spectrum is the story of Muammar Gaddafi being a rapist and said to keep schoolgirls as sex slaves.

French journalist Annick Cojean revealed this in her book titled Dans le harem de Kadhafi or "In Gaddafi's Harem".

For some, it is one juicy book. Sexcapades of an Arab leader. Who wouldn't want to read it?

Nevertheless, such a book and story of a leader, an Arab one, only plays to the stereotype that an Arab leader is usually corrupt, dictatorial and sex-crazed.

Instantly, one thinks of Saddam Hussein, Zine Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, never mind the circumstances of their coming to power and who supported them staying there for decades.

Cue Matt Bissonette's No Easy Day is another one. Even though his book about the Osama bin Laden raid contained the usual Arab-bashing, the world now knows that the mission from the outset was to kill the al-Qaeda leader, full stop.

I'm sure a lot of people wanted Osama to be put on trial. By killing him, the US deprived a lot of people from asking him the specifics of 9/11 and a host of other issues, including how he evaded detection all those years before he was found.

Also, how he managed to have a few wives while waging war. He seems to be an expert in multi-tasking.

Anyway, books tell a lot about something or somebody. Good and bad. In a way, Cojean and Bissonette do have a point or two for us to act on.

That is, if you want to avoid being stereotyped, write a book. Or, in these days start a blog. Or both.

Quite a few have taken that road. Take Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope, or closer to home, Tun Dr Mahathir's A Doctor in the House. Mind you, Dr Mahathir years ago started off with a bang with The Malay Dilemma.

Obama succeeded in defining his vision and in putting a different message to the masses who hoped for a new course after eight years of the George W. Bush administration, while Dr Mahathir's explained his decisions and experiences while in office.

Whatever people may say about them, their books help readers comprehend them better, how they think and took action as individuals and leaders.

One writer who knows it's time to move away from her usual genre is none other than J. K. Rowling. From Middle Earth to Middle Britain, a tale about British society in Casual Vacancy.

Lastly, for those who harbour the wish to be the next best thing in the book industry, go on then, write something. Just make sure it's an interesting and thrilling read.

Azman Abdul Hamid | News Straits Times Online Columnist 10 October 2012
Tags: buku, writings

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