The Way of the Strangers

Author: Graeme Wood
Publisher:
ISBN: 9780812988758
Release Date: 2017
Genre: History

"The Way of the Strangers is an intimate journey into the minds of the Islamic State's true believers. From the streets of Cairo to the mosques of London, Wood interviews supporters, recruiters, and sympathizers of the group...Wood speaks with non-Islamic State Muslim scholars and jihadists, and explores the group's idiosyncratic, coherent approach to Islam...Through character study and analysis, Wood provides a clear-eyed look at a movement that has inspired so many people to abandon or uproot their families.

The Way of the Strangers

Author: Graeme Wood
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 9780812988765
Release Date: 2016-12-20
Genre: Political Science

The author of the explosive Atlantic cover story “What ISIS Really Wants” has written the definitive, electrifying account of the strategy, psychology, and theology driving the Islamic State. Tens of thousands of men and women have left comfortable, privileged lives to join the Islamic State and kill for it. To them, its violence is beautiful and holy, and the caliphate a fulfillment of prophecy and the only place on earth where they can live and die as Muslims. The Way of the Strangers is an intimate journey into the minds of the Islamic State’s true believers. From the streets of Cairo to the mosques of London, Graeme Wood interviews supporters, recruiters, and sympathizers of the group. We meet an Egyptian tailor who once made bespoke suits for Paul Newman and now wants to live, finally, under Shariah; a Japanese convert who believes that the eradication of borders—one of the Islamic State’s proudest achievements—is a religious imperative; and a charming, garrulous Australian preacher who translates the group’s sermons and threats into English and is accused of recruiting for the organization. We also learn about a prodigy of Islamic rhetoric, now stripped of the citizenship of the nation of his birth and determined to see it drenched in blood. Wood speaks with non–Islamic State Muslim scholars and jihadists, and explores the group’s idiosyncratic, coherent approach to Islam. The Islamic State is bent on murder and apocalypse, but its followers find meaning and fellowship in its utopian dream. Its first caliph, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, has declared that he is the sole legitimate authority for Muslims worldwide. The theology, law, and emotional appeal of the Islamic State are key to understanding it—and predicting what its followers will do next. Through character study and analysis, Wood provides a clear-eyed look at a movement that has inspired so many people to abandon or uproot their families. Many seek death—and they will be the terror threat of the next decade, as they strike back against the countries fighting their caliphate. Just as Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower informed our understanding of Al Qaida, Graeme Wood’s The Way of the Strangers will shape how we see a new generation of terrorists. Praise for The Way of the Strangers “Readers are taken on a global journey to meet the frothing fans of ISIS. . . . Wood wants to know these people, to get in their skin, to understand how they see the world. Unlike most journalists writing about Islam today, there is no partisan axe to grind here, no hidden agenda to subtly advance.”—New Republic “The best way to defeat the Islamic State is to understand it. And to do that, the best place to start is [The Way of the Strangers]. . . . A series of gripping, fascinating portraits. . . . Wood has the talented journalist’s skill for interview and observation. He’s an astute psychologist and a good writer to boot. . . . It’s a great read. But more importantly, Wood’s book reveals truths about ISIS that are hiding in plain sight—but that our leaders make themselves willfully ignorant of. They ought to read his book, too.”—The Week “[Graeme Wood] shows, convincingly, that the stifling and abhorrent practices of the Islamic State are rooted in Islam itself—not mainstream Islam, but in scriptures and practices that have persisted for centuries. . . . The Islamic State, such as it is, is a dangerous place, and Wood’s book amounts to a tour around its far edges.”—Dexter Filkins, The New York Times Book Review

The Way of the Strangers

Author: Graeme Wood
Publisher: Penguin UK
ISBN: 9780241240120
Release Date: 2016-12-20
Genre: Political Science

A radical rethinking of what ISIS is and what it really wants From Graeme Wood, author of the explosive Atlantic cover story "What ISIS Really Wants," comes the definitive book on the history, psychology, character, and aims of the Islamic State. Based on Wood's unprecedented access to supporters, recruiters, and high-ranking members of the most infamous jihadist group in the world, The Way of the Strangers is a riveting, fast-paced deep dive into the apocalyptic dogma that informs the group's worldview, from the ideas that motivate it, to the "fatwa factory" that produces its laws, to its very specific plans for the future. By accepting that ISIS truly believes the end is nigh, we can understand its strategy-and predict what it will do next.

The Master Plan

Author: Brian H. Fishman
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 9780300224535
Release Date: 2016-11-22
Genre: History

An incisive narrative history of the Islamic State, from the 2005 master plan to reestablish the Caliphate to its quest for Final Victory in 2020 Given how quickly its operations have achieved global impact, it may seem that the Islamic State materialized suddenly. In fact, al-Qaeda’s operations chief, Sayf al-Adl, devised a seven-stage plan for jihadis to conquer the world by 2020 that included reestablishing the Caliphate in Syria between 2013 and 2016. Despite a massive schism between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, al-Adl’s plan has proved remarkably prescient. In summer 2014, ISIS declared itself the Caliphate after capturing Mosul, Iraq—part of stage five in al-Adl’s plan. Drawing on large troves of recently declassified documents captured from the Islamic State and its predecessors, counterterrorism expert Brian Fishman tells the story of this organization’s complex and largely hidden past—and what the master plan suggests about its future. Only by understanding the Islamic State’s full history—and the strategy that drove it—can we understand the contradictions that may ultimately tear it apart.

ISIS

Author: Fawaz A. Gerges
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400885596
Release Date: 2017-03-14
Genre: Political Science

The Islamic State has stunned the world with its savagery, destructiveness, and military and recruiting successes. What explains the rise of ISIS and what does it portend for the future of the Middle East? In this book, one of the world's leading authorities on political Islam and jihadism sheds new light on these questions as he provides a unique history of the rise and growth of ISIS. Moving beyond journalistic accounts, Fawaz Gerges provides a clear and compelling account of the deeper conditions that fuel ISIS. The book describes how ISIS emerged in the chaos of Iraq following the 2003 U.S. invasion, how the group was strengthened by the suppression of the Arab Spring and by the war in Syria, and how ISIS seized leadership of the jihadist movement from Al Qaeda. Part of a militant Sunni revival, ISIS claims its goals are to resurrect a caliphate and rid "Islamic lands" of all Shia and other minorities. In contrast to Al Qaeda, ISIS initially focused on the "near enemy"—Shia, the Iraqi and Syrian regimes, and secular, pro-Western states in the Middle East. But in a tactical shift ISIS has now taken responsibility for spectacular attacks in Europe and other places beyond the Middle East, making it clear that the group is increasingly interested in targeting the "far enemy" as well. Ultimately, the book shows how decades of dictatorship, poverty, and rising sectarianism in the Middle East, exacerbated by foreign intervention, led to the rise of ISIS—and why addressing those problems is the only way to ensure its end. An authoritative introduction to arguably the most important conflict in the world today, this is an essential book for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the social turmoil and political violence ravaging the Arab-Islamic world.

Jihad and Death

Author: Olivier Roy
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780190843656
Release Date: 2017-06-05
Genre: Political Science

How has Islamic State been able to muster support far beyond its initial constituency in the Arab world and attract tens of thousands of foreign volunteers, including converts to Islam, and seemingly countless supporters online? In this compelling intervention into the debate about Islamic State's origins and future prospects, the renowned French political scientist, Olivier Roy, argues that while terrorism and jihadism are familiar phenomena, the group's deliberate pursuit of death has produced a new kind of radical violence. In other words, we're facing not a radicalization of Islam, but the Islamization of radicalism. Indeed, Roy argues, young European Muslims drawn to IS are attracted to the organization's violent means rather than utopian dreams of a caliphate. He places IS in the context of other radical millenialist groups such as China's Red Guards, Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, and Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. In doing so, he shows that violence, not religious fundamentalism, is the central thread connecting young people who are drawn to radical groups. Jihad and Death is a concise dissection of the highly sophisticated narrative mobilized by IS: the myth of the caliphate recast into a modern story of heroism and nihilism.

Black Banners of Isis

Author: David J. Wasserstein
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 9780300228359
Release Date: 2017-08-22
Genre: History

A medieval Islam historian's incisive portrait of ISIS, revealing the group's deep ideological and intellectual roots in the earliest days of Islam With tremendous speed, the Islamic State has moved from the margins to the center of life in the Middle East. Despite recent setbacks, its ability to conquer and retain huge swaths of territory has demonstrated its skillful tactical maneuvering, ambition, and staying power. Yet we still know too little about ISIS, particularly about its deeper ideology. In this eye-opening book, David J. Wasserstein offers a penetrating analysis of the movement, looking closely at the thousand-year-old form of Islamic apocalyptic messianism the group draws upon today. He shows how ISIS is not only a military and political movement but also, and primarily, a religious one with a coherent worldview, a patent strategy, and a clear goal: the re-creation of a medieval caliphate. Connecting the group's day-to-day activities and the writings and sayings of its leaders with the medieval Islamic past, Wasserstein provides an insightful and unprecedented perspective on the origins and aspirations of the Islamic State.

The Age of Jihad

Author: Patrick Cockburn
Publisher: Verso Books
ISBN: 9781784784508
Release Date: 2016-10-11
Genre: Political Science

From the award-winning author of The Rise of Islamic State, the essential story of the Middle East’s disintegration The Age of Jihad charts the turmoil of today’s Middle East and the devastating role the West has played in the region from 2001 to the present. Beginning with the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, Cockburn explores the vast geopolitical struggle that is the Sunni–Shia conflict, a clash that shapes the war on terror, western military interventions, the evolution of the insurgency, the civil wars in Yemen, Libya and Syria, the Arab Spring, the fall of regional dictators, and the rise of Islamic State. As Cockburn shows in arresting detail, Islamic State did not explode into existence in Syria in the wake of the Arab Spring, as conventional wisdom would have it. The organization gestated over several years in occupied Iraq, before growing to the point where it can threaten the stability of the whole region. Cockburn was the first Western journalist to warn of the dangers posed by Islamic State. His originality and breadth of vision make The Age of Jihad the most in-depth analysis of the regional crisis in the Middle East to date.

Salafi Jihadism

Author: Shiraz Maher
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780190694722
Release Date: 2016-11-01
Genre: Political Science

No topic has captured the public imagination of late quite so dramatically as the specter of global jihadism. While much has been said about the way jihadists behave, their ideology remains poorly understood. As the Levant has imploded and millenarian radicals claim to have revived a Caliphate based on the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed, the need for a nuanced and accurate understanding of jihadist beliefs has never been greater. Shiraz Maher charts the intellectual underpinnings of salafi-jihadism from its origins in the mountains of the Hindu Kush to the jihadist insurgencies of the 1990s and the 9/11 wars. What emerges is the story of a pragmatic but resilient warrior doctrine that often struggles - as so many utopian ideologies do - to consolidate the idealism of theory with the reality of practice. His ground-breaking introduction to salafi-jihadism recalibrates our understanding of the ideas underpinning one of the most destructive political philosophies of our time by assessing classical works from Islamic antiquity alongside those of contemporary ideologues. Packed with refreshing and provocative insights, Maher explains how war and insecurity engendered one of the most significant socio-religious movements of the modern era.

A Rage for Order

Author: Robert F. Worth
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 9780374710712
Release Date: 2016-04-26
Genre: Political Science

The definitive work of literary journalism on the Arab Spring and its troubled aftermath In 2011, a wave of revolution spread through the Middle East as protesters demanded an end to tyranny, corruption, and economic decay. From Egypt to Yemen, a generation of young Arabs insisted on a new ethos of common citizenship. Five years later, their utopian aspirations have taken on a darker cast as old divides reemerge and deepen. In one country after another, brutal terrorists and dictators have risen to the top. A Rage for Order is the first work of literary journalism to track the tormented legacy of what was once called the Arab Spring. In the style of V. S. Naipaul and Lawrence Wright, the distinguished New York Times correspondent Robert F. Worth brings the history of the present to life through vivid stories and portraits. We meet a Libyan rebel who must decide whether to kill the Qaddafi-regime torturer who murdered his brother; a Yemeni farmer who lives in servitude to a poetry-writing, dungeon-operating chieftain; and an Egyptian doctor who is caught between his loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood and his hopes for a new, tolerant democracy. Combining dramatic storytelling with an original analysis of the Arab world today, A Rage for Order captures the psychic and actual civil wars raging throughout the Middle East, and explains how the dream of an Arab renaissance gave way to a new age of discord.

The Atheist Muslim

Author: Ali A. Rizvi
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 9781250094452
Release Date: 2016-11-22
Genre: Religion

In much of the Muslim world, religion is the central foundation upon which family, community, morality, and identity are built. The inextricable embedment of religion in Muslim culture has forced a new generation of non-believing Muslims to face the heavy costs of abandoning their parents’ religion: disowned by their families, marginalized from their communities, imprisoned, or even sentenced to death by their governments. Struggling to reconcile the Muslim society he was living in as a scientist and physician and the religion he was being raised in, Ali A. Rizvi eventually loses his faith. Discovering that he is not alone, he moves to North America and promises to use his new freedom of speech to represent the voices that are usually quashed before reaching the mainstream media—the Atheist Muslim. In The Atheist Muslim, we follow Rizvi as he finds himself caught between two narrative voices he cannot relate to: extreme Islam and anti-Muslim bigotry in a post-9/11 world. The Atheist Muslim recounts the journey that allows Rizvi to criticize Islam—as one should be able to criticize any set of ideas—without demonizing his entire people. Emotionally and intellectually compelling, his personal story outlines the challenges of modern Islam and the factors that could help lead it toward a substantive, progressive reformation.

Radicalized

Author: Peter R. Neumann
Publisher: I.B.Tauris
ISBN: 9781786720894
Release Date: 2016-09-30
Genre: Political Science

The attacks in Paris in January and November 2015 heralded the beginning of a new wave of terrorism - one rooted in the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq. As ISIS seeks to expand its reach in the Middle East, its territory serves as a base for training and operations for a new generation of jihadis. Thousands of young people from the West, primarily from Europe, have travelled to join ISIS, re-emerging as hardened fighters with military training and a network of international contacts. Many of these have now returned to their homelands, where it is feared they are planning a new series of brutal attacks. Peter R. Neumann here explains the phenomenon of the ‘new jihadis’, and shows why the threat of terrorism in the West is greater than ever before. Based on interviews and previously-unseen material, Neumann provides an essential introduction to one of the greatest crises of our time

The Love of Strangers

Author: Nile Green
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400874132
Release Date: 2015-11-24
Genre: History

In July 1815, six Iranian students arrived in London under the escort of their chaperone, Captain Joseph D'Arcy. Their mission was to master the modern sciences behind the rapid rise of Europe. Over the next four years, they lived both the low life and high life of Regency London, from being down and out after their abandonment by D’Arcy to charming their way into society and landing on the gossip pages. The Love of Strangers tells the story of their search for love and learning in Jane Austen’s England. Drawing on the Persian diary of the student Mirza Salih and the letters of his companions, Nile Green vividly describes how these adaptable Muslim migrants learned to enjoy the opera and take the waters at Bath. But there was more than frivolity to their student years in London. Burdened with acquiring the technology to defend Iran against Russia, they talked their way into the observatories, hospitals, and steam-powered factories that placed England at the forefront of the scientific revolution. All the while, Salih dreamed of becoming the first Muslim to study at Oxford. The Love of Strangers chronicles the frustration and fellowship of six young men abroad to open a unique window onto the transformative encounter between an Evangelical England and an Islamic Iran at the dawn of the modern age. This is that rarest of books about the Middle East and the West: a story of friendships.

Islamic Exceptionalism

Author: Shadi Hamid
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 9781466866720
Release Date: 2016-06-07
Genre: Political Science

In Islamic Exceptionalism, Brookings Institution scholar and acclaimed author Shadi Hamid offers a novel and provocative argument on how Islam is, in fact, "exceptional" in how it relates to politics, with profound implications for how we understand the future of the Middle East. Divides among citizens aren't just about power but are products of fundamental disagreements over the very nature and purpose of the modern nation state—and the vexing problem of religion’s role in public life. Hamid argues for a new understanding of how Islam and Islamism shape politics by examining different models of reckoning with the problem of religion and state, including the terrifying—and alarmingly successful—example of ISIS. With unprecedented access to Islamist activists and leaders across the region, Hamid offers a panoramic and ambitious interpretation of the region's descent into violence. Islamic Exceptionalism is a vital contribution to our understanding of Islam's past and present, and its outsized role in modern politics. We don't have to like it, but we have to understand it—because Islam, as a religion and as an idea, will continue to be a force that shapes not just the region, but the West as well in the decades to come.