Sinclair, P. “Descent Into Paradise”, Clink Street Publishing, 2015.
After the War in 1967
“Descent into Paradise” is a historical novel about Israel during the period from the last days of the Six Day War through the 1980’s. The story is related to the reader through several different characters. Author Sinclair explores the nature of the human condition as we read of the problems that faced the Middle East and we learn how the characters’ lives were influenced by religion and politics. They live against a background of terrorism and war that influence everything that they do.
We meet Shasa, a Palestinian orphan who becomes an assassin for Israel. She is a beautiful woman who is torn between two men—Pete Watson is a major in the United States services and the head of the most dangerous and lethal anti-terrorist organization and Zev Megrid, his Israeli counterpart, a major in the Israel Defense Forces and the director of the Mossad, Israel’s feared secret service. Then there is Abu, who has been forced to live in the slums of a Palestinian refugee camp and who has only one thing left to live for; revenge against Israel for the displacement of his people. He feels the only way he will find satisfaction is through the spilling of Jewish blood. Juan Rios is running his family’s Chilean drug company that he inherited when his parents were murdered. He is not about to join them and spends his time making sure that he stays alive. He makes his first trip abroad to Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile Sheik Bashir, a very rich Saudi and former freedom fighter in Afghanistan has decided to take his men with him and goes to northern Iran where he and his men will join the thousands of fighters already training in at camp Murat. He is there because the fight is not over between the Americans and the rest of the world it seems and he hates America who put the Saudi ruling family into power.
So we see that this novel is a global experience moving back forth between locations from Tel Aviv to Tehran, Washington DC. to London, and Miami Beach to Santiago and there is a reason for this movement—we see a world that is filled with violence and lies. Many of us claim to have some understanding of what is going in the Middle East—I certainly did having spent so much of my life there. What author Sinclair seems to me to be doing is to show us how passionate people are about both the Arab/Israel conflict and Islam fundamentalism.
At the center of the story is a very beautiful and feminine Mossad assassin, an American special forces operative, and a Palestinian freedom fighter and all of these find themselves torn between loyalty and love. We go back in time to 1967 to the final days of the Six-Day War in Israel where we meet Shasa as a young girl is the only survivor of an attack on her village. She is then adopted by an Israeli family yet she is not part of the other children in her village. She has only one friend— Zev who is also an orphan. They meet again as adults with Zev, as commander of Israel’s most elite special forces unit and Shasa, who has become one of Mossad’s most accomplished operatives. An army captain from the United Sates, Pete Watson comes to Tel Aviv after his commanding officer manages to set up an alliance with Israel to do something about terrorism that is growing rapidly in the area. Our three major characters here form a bond that is both romantic for Watson and Shasa and political for Watson and Zev.
Meanwhile Abu is pondering how to get back at the Israelis who he feels have taken his home and put him and his people into refugee camps. He can only think abut retribution and he leads a raid into the very same village that Zev and Shasa had lived as children.
We are taken on this journey in the Middle East and see things through the eyes of our characters. I truly admire author Sinclair for undertaking this project and trying to tie loose ends together. Unfortunately for all of us, there is so much going on behind the scenes that we will never realty understand the situation. Across the border in Lebanon, Abu is living in squalor in one of the overflowing Palestinian refugee camps. As retribution for the continued injustices measured out to his people by the Israelis, he will lead an audacious raid into the small settlement Shasa and Zev once called home. Sinclair admirably explores the human condition through his characters and he gives us an idea of how they are motivated and by what.
I often wonder if we will ever see this resolved and the moment that I find a little faith that it will something happens and the whole business moves in a different direction. Some of you know that I lived in Israel for many years and served in the Israel Defense Forces. I have seen firsthand what the problems are and I have absolutely no idea as how to solve them. “Descent into Paradise” is quite an intense read that is extremely well written and contemporary. Fiction here resembles truth and it is one of those books that is more than just a read—-it is a total experience.