Book Notes

Over a Barrel: Breaking Big Oil’s Grip on Our Future

In psychological terms, an addiction is the compulsive use of a substance despite potentially adverse consequences with a need for an increased amount of the substance over time. But the United States’ predicament concerning our reliance on oil and other fossil fuels is more than just an addiction. It is a form of national assisted suicide—both environme...    read more 

Pens and Swords: How the American Mainstream Media Report the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

While there are numerous books analyzing reporting about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the hard reality is that many of these books lack in scholarship and objectivity. One of the latest entries in the field, Pens and Swords: How the American Mainstream Media Report the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, unfortunately does little to change this trend. In ...    read more 

Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad

“The blind leading the blind.” This phrase could sum up the counterterrorism policies of large swaths of the United States government throughout the late 1980s and the 1990s, including the White House, the State Department, the National Security Council, and even the FBI. With the first bombing of the World Trade Center in February of 1993, however, a co...    read more 

Islamic Society and State Power in Senegal: Disciples and Citizens in Fatick

This exemplary, nuanced case study examines much more than the interaction between Islam and the contemporary African state of Senegal. Villalón demonstrates how the two legs of a three-legged vessel are mediated by and for the third element, groups of people in Senegal in general, and by groups of people in the small community of Fatick in particular. Toge...    read more 

Culture and Conflict in the Middle East

While serving with the United States Army in Iraq, this reviewer shared an insightful conversation with two local women who suggested that I stay in the country after my tour of duty ended. “Yet where would I live?” I asked. “With us, you can join the al-Joubouri tribe,” said the first woman. “No, live with us, the al-Tikritis,” insisted the seco...    read more 

The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam

Sidney H. Griffith describes this book as "a general introduction" to the study of "Christian intellectual life in the caliphate." Griffith's treatment of the Christian apologetic literature of this period seeks to be the comprehensive product of twenty-five years of research and is a testament to his scholarly industry. He explains that "[t]he title of the ...    read more 

Soldiers at Peace: Veterans and Society After the Civil War in Mozambique

With an ever-growing number of African countries being ravaged by civil war and facing the difficult challenges of reintegrating combatants in post-conflict societies, Jessica Schafer’s book, Soldiers at Peace: Veterans and Society After the Civil War in Mozambique, about the experiences of veterans in Mozambique, is an important and relevant case study. ...    read more 

Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan

The famous military theoretician, Carl von Clausewitz, remarked that war is never final. “The defeated … often considers the outcome merely as a transitory evil, for which a remedy may still be found in political conditions at some later date.” Soon after its rapid defeat in the Fall of 2001, many of the Taliban fled to Pakistan while others melted bac...    read more 

The Trouble With Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working

In recent years, the spread of radical Islam in African nations has made the continent a major front in the global war on terrorism. To combat this threat, the U.S. Department of Defense is establishing a new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to unify, not only defense efforts on the continent, but the nations humanitarian efforts in Africa as well. Once at fu...    read more 

Being Modern in the Middle East: Revolution, Nationalism, Colonialism, and the Arab Middle Class

Can one have nationalism without nationalists? This is the question Keith David Watenpaugh poses in his book Being Modern in the Middle East: Revolution, Nationalism, Colonialism, and the Arab Middle Class, an in-depth examination of the circumstances of Arab middle-class modernism at the close of the Ottoman Empire. Focusing on the city of Aleppo in Nort...    read more