The Way of the Strangers

  • by Graeme Wood
  • Narrated by Graeme Wood
  • 11 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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, 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A longer version of the Atlantic article

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.
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- Nassir

Graeme Wood puts on a clinic

Fascinating interviews, insightful analysis, captivating stories, this is the best book you can find to get into the minds and hearts of ISIS supporters. It's at once hilarious and chilling, and Graeme's narration is spectacular. Must buy!
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Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-20-2016
  • Publisher: Random House Audio