Friday, June 29, 2012

Review of: American Caliphate

The last time Jila Wells spent time in Peru, it ended in blood and bullets. Her desire to return is nonexistent until Ben Jaurez walks back into her life. He promises better security and a big payday, but the real lure is finding the secret that lies hidden in the Moche pyramid. 

American Caliphate blends modern archaeology with ancient religious persecution, secret voyages, and a heavy dose of action. Doonan did a fantastic job of bringing together elements of historical facts and modern adventure. I enjoyed learning about the various cultures presented in this book. I had never heard of the Moche before, but their culture and the area they lived are both quite interesting to read about. The conflict between Spanish Christians and Muslims was not something I was terribly familiar with either. Doonen was able to set the stage early on so you could relate to and truly understand the choices the Ibanez family made, and hope for their success. 

Being that this is an action/adventure novel, you would expect some excitement to pop up occasionally. In this area, Doonan didn't disappoint. Heavy duty machine guns aren't a typical necessity on an excavation site, but with the people trying to stop Ben and Jila, extra precautions are probably a good idea. There was a very good balance between relaying historical facts to the reader and keeping the action moving. I was never bored while reading. I was continually fascinated either by the stories of Spain and Peru, or the archaeological crew trying to unravel mysteries and dodge bullets. 

Characters are one of the most important aspects of a book. If the characters aren't someone the reader cares about, the book will be lacking. American Caliphate offers a cast of interesting characters. Ben and Jila have a complicated past that is made apparent within the first few pages. Tomas and Diego Ibanez make only a short appearance, but I felt connected to them right away. Even the local drug lord was fun to meet and try to figure out. There were no flat characters, but I did feel like Doonan could have utilized his unique characters more than he did. The focus was so much on the mystery and search that the characters weren't delved into as much as they could have been. I would have liked to really get into their heads and emotions more. 

The multiple storylines were interesting as well. I wasn't expecting the CIA side of the story, but I enjoyed the different viewpoint it offered. Jimmy Segura manages to tangle himself into this story, and watching him try to escape it proved entertaining. I was a bit disappointed that the Ibanez storyline didn't continue throughout the book. I thought their story could have really expanded the scope of the book. I would have rather read more of their story than just have it summed up later by the other characters. The only other area of the book I had a small issue with was the editing. There were a surprising amount of errors for a traditionally published book. It wasn't a lot, certainly not enough to detract from the book, but being a writer myself I did notice the typos. Aside from that, the writing was very good. Doonan is a strong writer with a writing style that engages readers and pulls them through the story effortlessly. This was a wonderful book I would definitely encourage people to pick up. 

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. It was a fun, fascinating read. I learned a lot and was entertained the whole way through. It was a fairly quick read, great for summer! 

Who would I recommend this book to? Action adventure readers, history readers (especially those interested in South American history), those interested in archaeology, and anyone else looking for an entertaining book. Basically, if you're a fan of authors like Dan Brown, Steve Berry, or Michael Crichton you'll enjoy this book. 

Get your copy of American Caliphate today from Amazon in Kindle or Paperback


  1. I'm about to order this book. It sounds like something I'd really enjoy. Great review!

  2. I read it too and love it! This is great summer reading. Great review, by the way.

    John Brantingham

  3. And I keep wondering--has there been any indication that Muslims were in South America that early? Doesn't matter, Doonan convinces me they were. Loved the premise, makes me more interested in archeology.

  4. I wondered the same thing, Sunny, but like you I decided it didn't matter. It was a great story either way.

  5. I like seeing the promotion machine at work. I am hearing so many good things about American Caliphate that it is now a must-read on my list.

    Thanks for the detailed review, DelSheree.

  6. The first real evidence of a Muslim in Peru was in 1560, when a Moor from Spain was sentenced to life imprisonment for the crime of spreading Islam. This was in Cuzco, the Inca capital, at a time when the Spanish were still fighting remnant Inca uprisings. But you can see Moorish architecture all over the old parts of Cuzco and Lima. I'm certain that the Moors were there by the end of the 1530s, if not among the lance-bearers who accompanied Pizarro in 1532.