Fire with Fire
by Allan Kahane
After Jake Burke's wife and daughter die in a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, his life has but one purpose: revenge. Accompanied by his assistant, Miranda, Jake uses his vast wealth and resources to track the lone surviving bomber to EGYPT --- to hunt him down and kill him. But Jake's involvement is just beginning. Jake and Miranda are abducted by rogue intelligence agents running a bold operation that combats terrorism with tactics government agencies cold never use: take the fight to the countries that nurture terrorists. Jake has just killed the man they'd planned to use to penetrate the Popular Islamic Jihad. They extend an invitation to Jake, but it's a one-way street: Join them, fund them, and don't look back. These men fight Fire with Fire.
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1. Allan Kahane wrote Fire with Fire after reading the Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government study America's Achilles Heel that outlines our country's vulnerability to terrorism. What associations do you see in our nation's vulnerability and this fictional story? What are the warnings if any?
2. The death of Jake Burke's wife and daughter were the catalyst for the story. What was Jake's primary intention and how did this change as the story progresses?
3. What observations does this novel make about terrorism in the world today? How do these ideas relate to what could happen in the United States?
4. Other than the loss of his family what motivates Burke to follow this perilous quest?
5. Nasrullah Sadr Yazdi is a blend of three powerbrokers in Iran today. Who are they?
6. Kahane began working on the idea for Fire with Fire before 9/11 and afterward the story took on a different meaning with the same theme. In light of current events in the Middle East what effect does the story have now?
7. Abdel Aziz Rifaat is a combination of easily recognizable players in the macabre business of Middle East terrorism. Who are they?
8. Jake, Miranda, Isabelle, and Mike went to the home of Ashraf Ismail Ibrahim El Biali in the guise of journalists to interview him. How does Ashraf's reasoning for the bombing resonate with the overall logic generally given by terrorists for terrorist acts?
9. What is Kahane's fictional solution to the Iranian problem in Fire with Fire?
10. How does Kahane's focus differentiate militant or revolutionary Islam (who must aggressively fight on a political and religious level) as an aberrant segment of Islam, from mainstream Islam?
11. What is interesting about the way this story is told? How are the events of the novel arranged and linked? Where are the turning points in the action after which everything is different? Were you able to anticipate them?
12. What is the theme of Fire with Fire? What is the central message or idea that links all of the segments of the novel together?
13. Do we as citizens have a right to know all aspects of the fight on terror by such groups as the CIA or can an argument be made for keeping certain information secret?
14. Has this book changed your ideas about terrorism in the United States in any way? How about terrorism in the world?
15. Did you think that Jake and his problems and relationships were believable or realistic? Why or why not? Which character could you relate to best and why? Which characters were most effective in drawing you into the story? How were they important to the story and why?
16. Fire with Fire contains a lot of complex Middle Eastern and international politics, history, and cultures. Did you enjoy putting this together along with the overall plot? How do you feel Kahane did in creating the mix of fiction and real life politics and history?
17. How did you feel about the settings described in the story and how were they important to the story? Was Kahane's description of the various landscapes, cities, and communities sufficient to take you there as the reader? Why or why not and how did this affect your enjoyment of Fire with Fire?
18. Do you see any irony in the acronym STOP: Suspend Terrorism Or Perish? If so please explain.
19. If our country becomes a victim of ever more deadly terrorist attacks, and our government is unable to solve the problem, do you think that we could witness the creation of groups of Americans who would take matters in their own hands and fight Fire with Fire by attacking countries like Iran in their own soil? If so, is this desirable or something to be avoided at all costs?
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