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Who Killed Daniel Pearl?


Who Killed Daniel Pearl?

Could the Francophobia of 2002 explain the recent flurry of articles deriding Bernard-Henri Lévy, author of WHO KILLED DANIEL PEARL? for his overweening vainness and self-aggrandizement? Perhaps. Or maybe the explanation is that the person who ventured alone into the abyss of Karachi, Pakistan to discover the truth about the ghastly murder of Daniel Pearl and wrote this book should have been an American and not a Frenchman.

In any case, it was Lévy, France's reigning celebrity-philosopher, who devoted a year of his life to following the clues wherever they took him, even to the dirty cinderblock hut where Pearl was murdered.

The first few pages seem to confirm the skeptics' doubts. The book is about Lévy, a first-person account of his quest, the perils he confronts and the mysteries he penetrates.

But it passes the ultimate test. It works. While it takes the form of an intellectualized detective novel narrated by the detective, the book conveys infinitely more than mere facts, in much the same way that Truman Capote's IN COLD BLOOD revealed so much about the murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas and the two men who were later found guilty and executed for the crime.

Lévy steeps himself in the atmosphere of Karachi, lingers in the bare room where Pearl spent his final hours, and visits schools in England where the man who planned the kidnapping, Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, had been a model pupil. As he learns more about Omar Sheikh, Lévy is struck by the many superficial similarities between Sheikh and Pearl.

One closes Lévy's book with a profound sense of the place to which Pearl had been posted by the Wall Street Journal: the noise, the stench, the crowds, the poverty, the endless mix of nationalities, and a sense of the evil that pervades its streets --- not only evil embodied by the terrorists and other criminals who find it a congenial haven, but also the evil of a place where anything is possible.

Reviewed by Harold V. Cordry on September 1, 2003

Who Killed Daniel Pearl?
by Bernard-Henri Lévy

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2003
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 454 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House
  • ISBN-10: 0971865949
  • ISBN-13: 9780971865945