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So Graeme Wood wrote an extraordinary and influential article in The Atlantic titled, "What ISIS really wants", basically arguing that ISIS is not a bunch of delusional nuts but are acting in the service of some pretty hardcore theology and mostly rational political philosophy, formed over a long period of time. It's grim to be sure, but it gives them ample justification for their actions and suggests they can't be defeated -- if they can be defeated -- by for example making sure that young people have good jobs and the proper education, or whatever. This is the book length version of the article. If you're in a rush, you could just read the article. The additions boil down to a lot of encounters with a bunch of radical Islamist types. Some are odd and some are unsettling but they don't really add a lot to the thesis in themselves, and they get a bit repetitious.
It's always a risk for authors to narrate their own books, and I've given up on a few because they really should not have. Happy to say, Wood does a good job, illuminating a lot of sticky bits with emphasis that a professional narrator might have missed.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Wood is way more knowledgeable than I knew. His own understanding of the Arabic language and Islamic philosophy and religious schools, history and thinking is quite subtle and he is able to apply this where necessary to increase understanding where necessary, not to show how smart he is.
Wood takes people at their word (and actions) that they are motivated by their faith (and cites credible reasons for beleiving so.
Bottom line is that this is the most imformative, accurate and fair assessment of why and how otherwise good people believe evil, crazy and destructive things and act on those beliefs in horrific and often difficult to understand ways.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful