I've recently read Infidel, the story of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's life to date. I say "to date", because she's still in her thirties and has many years ahead - unless, of course, an Islamist fanatic gets to her first.
Infidel was published in Dutch a few months ago, and the English translation has just been released. The narrative takes us from Hirsi Ali's birth in Somalia in 1969, through her childhood and young adult life in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopa, and Kenya, her escape to freedom in the Netherlands (via Germany), and her tumultuous career as a critic of Islam, including her involvement in the short film Submission, whose director, Theo van Gogh, was subsequently assassinated - then left with a five-page letter stuck to his chest by the blade of a butcher's knife. The letter was addressed to Hirsi Ali, and its gist was a warning that she would be the next to die.
The book takes us up to Hirsi Ali's most recent relocation, to the United States, in 2006.
Though its author's story is often harrowing - as in the account of her cruel "excision", or genital mutilation, as a little girl - it is still joyous overall. The joy lies in Hirsi Ali's totally unashamed denuciation of the economic, social, and sexual suppression of women in the name of religion and traditional culture, and in her passionate, wholehearted embrace of Enlightenment liberalism and universalism. Many Western intellectuals equivocate about the values of liberty, reason and science. Indeed, they sometimes appear to form a little Taliban in our midst. We would all be better off if they, and the world, would take Infidel's message to heart.