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The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global (Cambridge Middle East Studies) First Edition Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521791403
ISBN-10: 0521791405
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Editorial Reviews


"In this well-grounded and at times gripping account of militant Islamist activism, Gerges gives the most persuasive explanation yet for the direction taken by those jihadis who have set their sights on nothing less than a shift in the global balance of power. Taking these ruthless idealists of the new century seriously, through their writings and through interviews, he brings an immediacy to the story which shows up their limitations, but also underlines the ferocity of their desire to eliminate those who stand against them." Professor Charles Tripp, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

"Fawaz Gerges has written an authoritative, deeply-researched account of jihadist movements around the Middle East, and shows that these movements, far from monolithic, are rife with ideological and strategic debates. This stimulating and well-written book will be of great interest to the general reader and the specialist alike." Peter Bergen, CNN Terrorism Analyst and author of Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden

"No previous author has gone as far as Fawaz Gerges in explaining and illustrating the politics of Al Qaeda. On the basis of many interviews with jihadi militants, a close reading of the voluminous Arab literature thrown by its members, and, not least, the author's astute and historically informed judgment, he has produced a rich and most informative portrait of this movement. Identifying the political costs to the Arab world of this extreme, if very much minoritarian tendency, he also shows how repeated miscalculations by the West, from Afghanistan in the 1980s to Iraq after 2003, have given a new lease of life to the anger and fantasies of bin Laden and his followers." Professor Fred Halliday, London School of Economics, and author of Two Hours that Shook the World and 100 Myths About Islam

"His interviews are fascinating, disturbing and illuminating, and offer remarkably consistent arguments." Paula Newberg, Skidmore College

"...a few brave academics have stepped with books that evince a clearsighted vision and solid expertise. Among the best of these is Fawaz A. Gerges's The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global." --Chronicle of Higher Education, Juan R.I. Cole

"The title of Fawaz A. Gerges's incisive The Far Enemy refers to the al Qaeda term for the United States and its Western allies, but the book's focus is squarely on the internal divisions and ideological disputes that rent the jihadis during the mid-1990s." Bruce Hoffman, Washington Post Book World

“The author uses primary Arabic sources and interviews with militants to give a fascinating account of one of the most complex phenomena in the contemporary Middle East. Highly recommended.”

New York Times "Week in Review" section as suggested reading about Islam and its history.

"The book provides a remarkable picture of the complexity of the jihad movement in recent decades."
John Obert Voll, The International History Review

Book Description

Since 9/11, Al Qaeda has been portrayed as an Islamist front united in armed struggle, or jihad, against the West. Fawaz Gerges argues that Al Qaeda represents a minority whose strategies have been opposed by religionist nationalists, thus creating a rift that led to the events of 9/11.

Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Middle East Studies
  • Hardcover: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Edition edition (September 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521791405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521791403
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,539,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There is no doubt that Islam as a religion and Islamic-Western relations as a political problem have captured the attention of everyone in the United States who is tuned into current affairs. September 11th, the worst terrorist attack in American history, and the current international war on terrorism have changed the lives of people around the globe. The search for the accused masterminds behind 9/11 and other recent attacks against Western and Western-allied targets, and the pursuit of those who are the direct perpetrators of terrorist activities, is an ongoing and very expensive enterprise.

Of particular interest are the whereabouts and capture of Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, leaders of the terrorist group called Al Qaeda. For the most part, Al Qaeda has been characterized as an Islamist front united in armed struggle, or "jihad," against Western civilization and Western interests. But Fawaz A. Gerges, a noted historian and Middle East expert, has a different take on the matter and has offered his own analysis in "The Far Enemy," a book that is extremely detailed and meticulously researched.

Gerges certainly possesses the credentials needed to write a book such as this. Educated at Oxford University and the London School of Economics, he has previously been a Research Fellow at Harvard and Princeton universities, and he now holds the Christian A. Johnson Chair in International Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies at Sarah Lawrence College. Gerges has written widely on Arab and Muslim politics, Islamist movements, American foreign policy, and relations between the world of Islam and the West.
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Format: Hardcover
When any book has 60-some pages of citations and notes, you know it's a serious work.

These days, it seems everyone is an armchair expert with a "factual" opinion on the global Jihad situation. Because I receive phone calls from US soldiers and civilians serving or working in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Bosnia, I have a bit of insight into this situation. What most people spew as fact is merely rewarmed televised propaganda with little or no basis in reality.

Thus, it was refreshing to read Gerges' well-researched book. Gerges is authoritative, not opinionated. This is evident in his extensive use of letters written by various key players in the global jihad psychodrama.

One of the points he discussed was how the Muslim mainstream has rejected Osama bin Laden--and why. Through my volunteer work in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), I have been interacting with Muslims for many years--long before September 11. My opinion of these people has nothing to do with their religion. I have found them to be intelligent, hard-working, considerate, and giving. Not at all the characterization we find being put forth by our more "insulated" fellow citizens. Being of Sicilian decent myself, I know a thing or two about being "suspected"--as many innocent Muslims are today.

The situation in the Middle East is not one of a monolithic Muslim culture waging war against the so-called "Christian" nations. In France, Muslims outnumber Catholics and Protestants combined. Any time I read a book or article about Jihad, I know the author has stepped into "stupidland" as soon as there's mention of "the Middle East Muslims still fighting the Crusades against Europe."

Yes, in the minds of a few zealot Muslims, the Crusade thing is true.
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Format: Hardcover
Though the author seems to belabor the point at times, the end result is a study in the jihadist trends of the past 30+ years. In this book you will be introduced to the key players in this drama along with the historical background of how their thought and teaching developed. It will take some time to digest it all but do not rush the reading and you will be rewarded with a level of analysis lacking in most books and reporting on the subject. It is well written for such a complex and daunting study.
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Format: Hardcover
Fawaz Gerges here gives us an enormously useful history of the jihadi movement, one that benefits greatly from his facility with Arabic sources and his access to many jihadis for interviews. Of greatest importance though is the analysis he provides of the terrorist threat. While some hawks have argued that Mr. Gerges has historically had a tendency to minimize that threat, events seem to bear out his argument that:

The September 11 attacks were not just a product of the civil war within the House of Islam but a direct result of the civil war within the jihadist movement itself. In this sense, the United States was a secondary, not a primary, target of jihadis' military escalation, and the bulk of jihadis (religious nationalists) remained on the sidelines and did not join the onslaught by their transnationalist counterparts. If my thesis holds, then Al Qaeda represents more of a national security problem to the United States than a strategic threat, as the conventional wisdom in the American foreign policy establishment has it.

Therefore, it is critical to highlight the internal turmoil among jihadis because it brought about dramatic shifts in their thinking and action and caused further splits in their ranks.

It is certainly the case that the 9-11 attacks have been disastrous for the most anti-Western extremists, provoking the U.S. into actions that have decimated al Qaeda, brought democracy to Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon, liberalization to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc., and hastened settlements between the Israelis and Palestinians and Pakistan and India. The irony for al Qaeda is that in striking a secondary target they inflicted on themselves strategic defeat.
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