The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State.

Author:Cirafici, John
Position:Book review
 
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The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State. By Graeme Wood. New York: Random House, 2017. Endnotes. Index. Chart. Pp xv, 317. $28.00 ISBN: 978-0-8129-8875-8

Extremist Islam, much like any other fanatical philosophy, cannot be fully engaged, contained, and neutralized if it is not properly understood. Unfortunately, there is too little awareness of the factors that have inspired millions to support Islamic State and its Salafist form of Islam that have led many thousands to fanatically embrace a struggle to the death against a world that they have totally rejected. As Graeme Wood points out, the irony is that the terrorists themselves, surprisingly, often lack a comprehensive and sophisticated understanding of Islam; yet, they have absolute and unswerving confidence in their legitimacy. To outsiders, their commitment to extreme and brutal violence is unjustifiable and pointless. Amongst supporters, however, it is a popular and inspiring demonstration of who they are and the power that they wield. The question that needs to be answered, then, is what is the appeal of Islamic State (IS) all about? Graeme Wood, a noted Canadian journalist and lecturer, has responded to this lack of knowledge about IS's attractiveness, inspiring rhetoric, and philosophical underpinnings with this incredibly informative book.

Through Wood's well researched and extensively footnoted tome, one enters the mind and persona of followers of extreme Islam. Wood strips away the mystery and confusion surrounding the magnetic appeal of al-Baghdadi's Islamic State and explores the logic driving its followers. Through one-on-one interviews with...

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