A French intelligence officer is tasked with tracking down a former member of the U.S. Special Forces suspected of drug trafficking during the war in Afghanistan. On his way to Beirut he shares a night with Mariam, an Iraqi archaeologist, who is in a race against time to save ancient artifacts across the Middle East from the destruction wreaked by ISIS. Woven into these two forceful, gripping storylines are stylish meditations on humankind’s bellicose history: Hannibal’s failed march on Rome and the burning of his fleet on the waters of the Mediterranean; Grant’s pursuit of the Confederates into rural Virginia; Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House; and Emperor Haile Selassie’s swift retreat from Ethiopia.
Each one a turning point in world history, each revealing a different facet of how nations and individuals face defeat. Gaudé writes with a riveting immediacy, seamlessly taking the reader across the battlefields of our past to reflect upon the implications of today’s conflicts.
Laurent Gaudé is a French novelist and playwright. After being nominated for the 2002 Prix Concourt with The Death of King Tsongor, he won the award in 2004 for his novel The Sun of the Scorta.