The Way of the Strangers

The Way of the Strangers

Encounters With the Islamic State

Book - 2017
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The definitive account of the strategy, psychology, and fundamentalism driving the Islamic State, from the author of the groundbreaking Atlantic story "What ISIS Really Wants."

"Fascinating, terrifying, occasionally blackly humorous."--Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature, on "What ISIS Really Wants"

Tens of thousands of men and women have left comfortable, privileged lives to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria--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 most radical 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." -- 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
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780812988758
0812988752
Branch Call Number: 363.3250956 WOO
Characteristics: xxix, 317 pages : illustration

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ser_library Dec 06, 2017

a well researched, clearly written and readable book which provides depth and context to current events

2
21288004246712
Jul 14, 2017

bit off target to me

t
talktimereader
Jul 11, 2017

We all need help understanding this new threat. A wonderful examination of the present situation.

b
bitsysmom
May 24, 2017

Very interesting.

d
dirtbag
May 17, 2017

Very interesting and worth reading. From the comments you can tell he can be polarizing. For me, a new reader in understanding radical Islam, this showed how complex and multi-faceted the topic is...sadly, it also indicates how difficult eradication of the problem will be. Maybe impossible. Just like with all other religions, it is all in the interpretation of scripture.

n
nrizkalla
Mar 08, 2017

A deep look at the thought process of ISIS and its followers. Some reflections: (1) They are not the product of economic or social deprivation, on the contrary, (2) They are followers of an Islamic thought school which is strict to the literal meaning of Quran and Hadith, so -according to author- no one can say they are not true Islam (3) ISIS is Al Qaeda with an "apocalyptic" orientation. (4) There is no place for peace in an Islamic State, because for every Political Islamist group there will be another one of them which say they are apostate and deserve to be killed.

v
voisjoe1_0
Mar 05, 2017

Author Graeme Wood has spent many months among various followers of ISIS. Some of his interviewees eventually landed in the sections of Syria/Iraq that compose what is called the caliphate of the Islamic State. The true believers believe that there will be a clash between the caliphate and Western Civilization. They want the clash. They believe after the clash has begun, that eventually there will be the end times in which Allah comes down and determines who deserves heaven and who deserves hell. Before the end times, though, they believe that if they lose the current land of the Caliphate, then they will fight from many different sites on the globe where they will regroup. This problem is going to probably be with us for many, many years. The best strategy to minimize the problem is to convince our young people that ISIS is not the way to spend their last days.

a
athena14
Feb 04, 2017

Graeme Wood's drank the Islamic State's flavor-aid.

s
StarGladiator
Jan 11, 2017

[Update 2/2017: To date, everyone who was with the so-called intelligence community at the highest levels leading up to - - and during and after - - 9/11, have come out against Trump's national security policies {evidently these Special Ed Kids believed they had something to do with national security}, including those responsible for the Underwear Bomber, the killings at Ft. Hood, Boston Marathon bombings - - by responsible I mean they knew of, darn well should have known, what was to come from all the intel they were spoon fed!!!! Now I wonder what their opinions are on shampoos?]
Oh wow, dudes!!! This fellow is a Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, numero uno of the so-called think tanks! And instead of explaining that the USA [under Obama] together with the UK, France, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, trained a bunch of former Iraqi Republican Guard troops [as in trained, armed and financed] who then became ISIS - - either following their own agenda or following somebody's script [???], because Assad of Syria refused to allow a natural gas pipeline to run across his country from Qatar to Turkey. And how many innocents have been beheaded, tortured and murdered by the Islamic State? And how many American weapons did they use to do this? An international armaments-tracking NGO has succeeded in tracking many an ISIS weapon [killed in combat with the Kurds] and found them to have originated in the USA, not given to the Iraqi military, but missing from armories in America?!?! Sad, this CFR Fellow couldn't write about this instead?

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