The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State

Category: Book
By (author): Wood, Graeme
Subject:  HISTORY / Middle East / General
  NON-FICTION / General
  POLITICAL SCIENCE / Terrorism
  RELIGION / Islam / General
Publisher: Random House
Published: December 2016
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 352
Size: 9.50in x 6.40in x 1.10in
Our Price:
$ 36.00
Availability:
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Additional Notes

From The Publisher*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 
Review Quote*Praise for The Way of the Strangers

"Readers are taken on a global journey to meet the frothing fans of ISIS. . . . [Graeme] 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. . . . To these troubled men, Islam is not an opiate of the masses; it is a euphoric, reality-bending, and ultimately self-annihilating psychedelic."-New Republic

"[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

"Worthy of Joseph Conrad . . . In a field where there has admittedly been little competition, [Wood's] book ranks as the funniest yet written on Islamic State. As in many a British sitcom, the comedy mostly emerges from the disequilibrium between the scale of his characters' pretensions and ambitions and the banality of their day-to-day lives. . . . Gripping, sobering and revelatory."-New Statesman (UK)

"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

"Indispensable and gripping . . . From Mosul to Melbourne, from Cairo to Tokyo, from London to Oslo, from Connecticut to California, Graeme Wood's quest to understand the Islamic State is a round-the-world journey to the end of the night. As individuals, the men he encounters are misfits, even losers. But their millenarian Islamist ideology makes them the most dangerous people on the planet."-Niall Ferguson, senior fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, author of The War of the World

"Over the course of its short life, the Islamic State has inspired millions, thousands of whom have rallied to its cause in search of a glorious death. But why? Are its devotees nothing more than sadists and two-bit mafiosi for whom religion is a fig leaf and who will fade away in the face of military defeat? In this essential book, Graeme Wood draws on more than a decade of reporting to demolish these and other comforting deceptions. The Islamic State's devotees are true believers indeed, and their nightmarish vision will haunt our world for decades to come, regardless of what happens on the battlefield."-Reihan Salam, executive editor, National Review

"Graeme Wood is America's foremost interpreter of ISIS as a world-historical phenomenon. In The Way of the Strangers, he has given us the definitive work to date on the origins, plans, and meaning of the world's most dangerous terrorist organization. Wood is a fearless, relentlessly curious, and magnetically interesting writer who takes us on an intellectual and theological journey to the darkest places on the planet, yet he manages to do this without despairing for our collective future. This book is a triumph of journalism."-Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief, The Atlantic

Praise for Graeme Wood's "What ISIS Really Wants" 

"An intelligent and detailed account of the ideology that animates the Islamic State."-Fareed Zakaria, CNN, author of The Post-American World

"One of the most important essays this year."-David Brooks, The New York Times, author of The Road to Character

"Fascinating, terrifying, occasionally blackly humorous."-Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature

"Mr. Wood's piece is bracing because it is fearless. . . . It is going to change the debate."-Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, author of What I Saw at the Revolution

"A rare, genuine must-read . . . I felt challenged, even provoked, through it all."-Shadi Hamid, the Brookings Institution, author of Islamic Exceptionalism
Biographical NoteGraeme Wood is a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has written for The New Republic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg Businessweek, The American Scholar, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and many other publications. He was the 2014–2015 Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and he teaches in the political science department at Yale University.