The True American
Mark Stroman, a native Texan, was one of the US citizens a new
economy was leaving way behind. Outsourcing to third world countries
and mechanization left fewer and fewer decent jobs for white men with
rap sheets and without much education. In his mind people from other
countries, minorities, and women were getting all the breaks. "...the
old equations that had made it mean something to be white and a man,
no matter how trifling a white man you were, no longer really
computed." A warrior, he chafed at the lack of a tangible enemy to
fight until 9/11 left him eager to defend his nation under siege.
Rais (Rassudin) Bhuiyan seemed to symbolize those Stroman saw as
hijacking his country, killing the American dream. A native of
Bangladesh, a former Air Force man with an elite education, he had
come to America, convinced that, unlike his nation of birth, it would
hold unlimited opportunity for anyone willing to work hard and not
give up. In 2001 he worked in a convenience store in a poor
neighborhood. He was sure this was not forever. Entry into
electronics would give him and his fiancée the keys to a decent middle
As described vividly in Anand Giridharadas' The True American:
Murder and Mercy in Texas, the two met tragically September 21, 2001.
Bhuiyan was working the cash register solo. Stroman walked in with a
gun pointed at his head. Encountering a man who looked like "one of
them," he fired it. Bhuiyan lived, seriously injured, determined to
overcome that adversity and achieve his dream.
Ten years later the two men's lives came together under very
unexpected conditions. Stroman was on death row, appeals nearly
exhausted, his window of opportunity for life quickly shrinking.
Despite his suffering caused by Stroman, Bhuiyan was doing his best to
prevent the State of Texas from carrying out the execution.
The True American is one of The New York Times Book Review's 100
Notable Books for 2014...for very good reason. It goes way beyond a
darkly chilling but fascinating narrative. Giridharas has delved
deeply into the backgrounds, thoughts, and feelings of both men and
their significant others and the nation in which their drama played
out. It shows how the devolution of the American dream for many
native born and the quickly growing gap between the rich and the rest
of us may lead to an awful lot more desperation born violence at the
hands of those who feel that they have no other option.
On a personal note, recently I learned that I have done 736 posts in
under five years. Of course, since some contain several books that
makes over 750 I have read and reviewed. Am I a library geek? If I
get accepted into the masters program of my dreams with a teaching
assistantship that will drastically cut into my reading time. So
let's see if I can hit 1,000 before than.
A great big shout goes out to all like Rais who strive for peace and
understanding and a society where both immigrant and native born have
a fair chance to achieve a decent life.
Sent from my iPod