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Short Synopsis
Chronically questioning, funny, and bold, a young American writer explores the majority-Muslim lands that scare him most.

Full Synopsis
Armed only with college Arabic and restless curiosity, Adam Valen Levinson set out to "learn about the world 9/11 made us fear." From a base in globalized and sterilized Abu Dhabi, he sets out to lunch in Taliban territory in Afghanistan, travels under the watchful eye of Aleppo's secret police, risks shipwreck en route to Somalia, investigates Yazidi beliefs in a sacred cave, cliff-dives in Oman, celebrates New Year's Eve in Tahrir Square, and, at every turn, discovers a place that matches not at all with its reputation.

While politicians and media eagerly stoke the flames of Islamophobia, Valen Levinson crosses borders with abundant humor and humanity. Seeking common ground everywhere, he finds that people who pray differently often laugh the same. And as a young man bar mitzvahed at twenty-one (instead of the usual thirteen), he slowly learns how childish it is to live by decisions and distinctions born of fear.

"Levinson skillfully relates aspects of his destinations’ histories alongside his journalist’s observations and personal thoughts and emotions in this unique and illuminating travelogue." ---Booklist

“Levinson manages to establish his own voice admirably, with an endearing mixture of ironic self-awareness, incisive sociological analysis, and simple humor. . . . The author’s linguistic riffs are a highlight and more insightful than the norm for travel writing.” ---Kirkus

“Adam Valen Levinson is too young to have written a book this good: eloquent, analytical, funny, sad. The Middle East is a wondrous and strange and supernatural place, hard to articulate in all the different shades and shadows. But Levinson absolutely nailed it in a brilliant first book.” ---Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights

The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah

Fear and Love in the Modern Middle East

Author Adam Valen Levinson

Narrated by Vikas Adam

Publication date Nov 14, 2017

Running time 12 hrs

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