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God Has Ninety-Nine Names: A Reporter's Journey Through a Militant Middle East Hardcover – May 1, 1996

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 574 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684809737
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684809731
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,017,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A comprehensive survey of militant Islam, or Islamism, from Judith Miller, former bureau chief for The New York Times in Cairo. She covers eight Arab countries, plus Iran and Israel, in providing a complete, if bleak, picture for Western readers: from poverty-stricken Egypt to rich Saudi Arabia, she believes Islamists are threatening Middle Eastern stability. Whether floundering under incompetent government, corruption, and repression, or, as in the case of Jordan, too dependent on one ruler, the states close to the West are weak, and vulnerable to a movement that promises social justice and moral righteousness. Miller is forthright in her condemnation of the intolerance and sexism of Islamic movements she sees as largely antithetical to Western democracy. A provocative and daring book.

From Publishers Weekly

Indispensable for Middle East watchers, Miller's eye-opening, firsthand report begins in Sudan in 1985 with the jubilant public execution of Mahmoud Taha, founder of a nonviolent Islamic reformist group. His conviction for sedition and heresy by a militant Muslim regime that commits appalling crimes, she observes, should serve as a warning to other Middle Eastern states tempted to institute theocratic rule. In virtually every country she visited-Egypt, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.-Miller, New York Times correspondent and former Cairo bureau chief, found that the appeal of fundamentalist, militant Islam was growing, though it was often brutally suppressed, as in Algeria, where a war raging between the secular government and armed Islamic radicals has claimed an estimated 40,000 lives. In Israel in 1993, she interviewed a terrorist of the Muslim group Hamas and met with members of the largely nonviolent Islamic movement, which was increasingly divided over whether Arabs should integrate into Israeli society or pursue cultural and institutional separatism. Her trenchant observations on Libya, Lebanon, Jordan and Iran round out a compelling odyssey.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Miller writing style is understandable and approachable.
Lisa Haynes
Her book is a first-hand account of her experiences in the Arab world, ranging across North Africa into the Middle East, and makes for compelling reading.
Patrick Carroll
Footnotes at the end of the book contains more stories and comments rather that references to sources she used for the information she referenced.
Waheed O. Busaeed

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 88 people found the following review helpful By sid1gen on September 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have read David Pryce-Jones review of Miller's book and, although I agree with Pryce-Jones that Miller misses the real root of the problems that plague the badly-named "Middle East," I do not share the British author's severity of judgement. "God has ninety-nine names" is, before anything, a series of photographs in words. The reader will not get the depth that a profound analysis of the region should have, but we are trading the scholarly insights of a historian (and Miller is not a historian) for the immediacy of a reporter. I found several problems with this book, but none was so grave as to make me change my strong recommendation. Miller writes with the typical attitude (it has been called arrogance sometimes) of those who come from the developed Western world and marvel or gasp at the way the unwashed masses of the Third World behave. She equates westernization with modernization and both with progress, and in the Middle East there is cosmetic westernization, shallow modernization, and scant progress, with the exception of the State of Israel, an altogether different sort of bird in a very dismal aviary. When confronted with the harsh reality of strong men impossing their will on their subjects, and whole countries going macho and abusing their women (and those women in many cases applauding and encouraging such attitudes), then Miller seems to understand that she is in a different world, one that never knew of chivalry, or the Renaissance, or the French Revolution until those concepts and philosophies were imported to the area by Europe.Read more ›
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Haynes on December 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Anyone drawn to study history, culture or politics will find this book well worth the read.
I was drawn by the sub-title, "Reporting from a Militant Middle East" because I've long felt the need to get some sort of understanding of the religious, social and political complexities to be found in the Middle East. This was the perfect book to meet that need.
Miller writing style is understandable and approachable. Her commitment to detail is unwavering, and because of that, one walks away with the feeling of really having learned well what she had to teach from her 20 years of experience as a reporter in the Middle East.
Finally, a single source to unravel the mysteries of so many separate and yet, connected, Islamic groups - some with influence throughout the Middle East, others that are very specific to certain cultures and countries.
This book has made my list of Favorite Books of All Time.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Craig Stoehr on November 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
A good overview of the forces that have shaped militant Islamic movements in the Middle East & North Africa over the last several decades, along with a brief history of about a dozen countries in the region.
Although I can appreciate some of the criticisms leveled at Ms. Miller by other Amazon reviewers ("lacks depth" - e.g., it's a different read than something by Robert Kaplan), "God Has Ninety-Nine Names" does provide those who know relatively little about the region with an opportunity to quickly learn about the history of, and pre-1996 developments in, countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, etc. If you don't have the time to delve deeply into the history of the region and its religions, politics, economics, etc., spending a week reading this book will still afford you a much more intelligent analysis of what you're viewing on television nightly.
Although some Amazon reviewers have been highly critical of Ms. Miller and her NY Times pedigree, Ms. Miller, who lived and worked in the region for 25 years and was the Times' Cairo bureau chief, has assembled a relatively cohesive work using an array of interviews with the region's most notable political and religious figures. I think she is to be commended for her effort and for not being afraid to be critical of certain things that are happening in the Muslim world. Contrary to what some reviewers thought about her Arabic, I got the impression from the book that she did speak Arabic as well as French, but perhaps not fluently (thus the use of translaters for some of her interviews).
One drawback is that the book was published in 1996 and thus omits a discussion of developments since that time.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 29, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Judith Miller's book has generated some controversy which should tell us at least two things: First, this is an important book by a veteran writer and reporter that cannot easily be brushed aside. If it weren't so well-written and so well-researched, it would not have been deemed a "threat" to be publicly derided and often viciously criticized by those who have tended to apologize or excuse the excesses (including assassination, torture and terrorism) committed by some fundamentalist groups (e.g., Hezbollah), governments (e.g. Sudan, Iran) and guerilla movements (e.g. AIM in Algeria). Second, there is no denying it: This is a provocative book on a subject that has proven over the years to be a "hot button" for many. If you write or speak publicly about Islam, especially "political Islam," you are automatically treading into dangerous waters given the passions surrounding the subject.
Judith Miller is to be respected by all for her years of reporting and well-written and well-researched news coverage of the Islamic world over the years. She is also to be saluted for her courage in writing this book.

Strengths of book: Detailed profile of Islamic leaders and other figures. As a reporter, Miller writes in the "you-are-there" style of a veteran reporter. Very detailed stuff, well-footnoted.

Aspects of topic which book does not cover as thoroughly: Miller attempts to explain to the reader "what it all means." Overall, I think she does a good job.
Read more ›
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