Another Year in Oman: Between Iraq and a hard Place is the second of a three-book series that describes the author's life in the Middle East and once again offers a powerful perspective, continuing the saga begun by Heines' venture into Oman post-9/11.
At this point the U.S. is about to invade Iraq, and Heines is the only American in the region - so he's viewed with undue suspicion and faces the additional challenges of being involved in a clandestine relationship with an Arab woman and struggling with a very different culture.
Like My Year in Oman, this book is neither 'fish nor fowl' - it's not a travelogue; so don't anticipate that direction. Neither is it strict autobiography: there's a lot of cultural observation and history that would be lacking in a more egocentric production and it's this cultural interaction that forms the backbone of Heines' experience and story.
It's about Muslim faith, cultural values, the interaction of Arab countries with the rest of the world, and how Heines' decision to live in Arabia succeeds in changing not only his life, but those around him.
Expect more details about Omani culture than were provided in the first book, expect more rich viewpoints of male and female lives and how they are changed by Muslim faith and politics, and most of all, anticipate a deepening romance set against the backdrop of protests and heightening tensions in the Middle East.
Most accounts of the region come from relative outsiders. Even reporters who have extensively traveled throughout the Middle East and who have more in-depth background in the region's political turbulence don't have the personal associations that Matthew Heines develops in the course of working and developing a love relationship in Oman.
Another Year is about adventure and romance - but more importantly, it's about one average American's understanding of the underlying forces that drive Muslim culture and heritage, offering a rare opportunity for understanding based not on so much on history or politics as upon personal interactions.
And that's a rare perspective, indeed - especially in a post-9/11 world which too easily equates 'terrorism' with 'Muslim' and negates individual matters of the heart....Continua