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Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 19, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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“Talking to the Enemy is about far more than violent extremism. One of the most penetrating works of social investigation to appear in many years, it offers a fresh and compelling perspective on human conflict. ” (John Gray, Literary Review )
“Talking to the Enemy is recommendable not just for its vivid insights into the motivation of terrorists, butalso for its study of Islamic radicalisation and the anthropology of religion in general.” (Michael Bond, New Scientist )
“Talking to the Enemy is an important book, by turns fascinating, dense, scientific, debatable, illuminating.” (David Aaronovitch, The Times )
“Scott Atran is one of the world’s most important and innovative thinkers on the local and global dynamics of violent Islamist extremism. . . . Required reading for those trying to understand and address the problems of terrorism in the 21st century.” (Juan Zarate, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism 2005 - 2009 )
“What can be done to undo future jihadist networks? renowned anthropologist Scott Atran has carried out a very thorough study with surprising findings on what motivates those who kill and die.” (Luis Miguel Ariza, El Pais )
“Atran has given us a remarkably honest book, demonstrating that down-to-earth field work can give us a far superior understanding of what makes terrorists‘tick’ than whole armies of armchair counter-terrorist ‘experts.’” (Perspectives on Terrorism )
“This deeply researched, wide ranging, and very timely study provides a compelling and often surprising account of what lies behind the jihadi phenomenon . . . . It should be read carefully, and pondered.” (Noam Chomsky )
“Atran explores the way terrorists think about themselves and teaches us, at last, intelligent ways to think about terrorists. He puts the threat in perspective and provides keys to winning the fight against violent zealotry.” (Christopher Dickey, Newsweek Middle East Editor and author of SECURING THE CITY )
“The stories Atran brings back from talking to jihadists and their supporters are gripping, and the result of his experiments that probe their sacred values are compelling. The insights he gains tell us more than we knew before about what it means to be human.” (Robert Axelrod, Walgreen Professor for the Study of Human Understanding at the University of Michigan, author of The Evolution of Cooperation, and recipient of the National Academy of Sciences Award for Behavioral Research Relevant to the Prevention of Nu )
“Atran is one of the world’s most important thinkers on the local and global dynamics of violent Islamist extremism. His research on what motivates young men to fall prey to violent ideologies is required reading for those trying to understand the problems of terrorism in the 21st century.” (Juan Zarate, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism 2005 - 2009 )
“[Atran’s] rigorous research not only debunks the claims of pundits who sit lightly to academic discipline but also challenges unscientific attacks on religion by senior scientists. The political implications of his well-grounded analysis are profound but conveyed in an accessible style which left me excited and hopeful.” (John, Lord Alderdice, Chairman of the Liberal Democrat Party in the House of Lords, former Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly and President of Liberal International )
“A riveting account of the motivational basis of terrorism and field material of rare quality. Dismantling the myths that guide the so called war on terror, he provides the tools to address a global problem rationally and effectively.” (Carlo Strenger, Graduate Chair of Clinical Psychology, Tel Aviv University, and columnist for Ha'aretz )
“Scott Atran is one of the very few persons who understand religion and have figured out that religion is not about belief and cannot be naively replaced without severe side effects.” (Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Distinguished Professor, New York University Polytechnic Institute, author of The New York Times bestseller The Black Swan )
“Historically keen and astutely humanistic...the author’s deep penetration into anthropological explanations of evolution, teamwork, blood sport and war attempt to define what it means to be human.” (Kirkus Reviews )
“Recommendable not just for its vivid insights into the motivation of terrorists, but also for its study of Islamic radicalization and the anthropology of religion in general..” (New Scientist )
“A highly readable round-the-world examination of the jihad and its adherents. . . . Atran pieces together the lives and the backgrounds of extremists, offering insightful perspectives by placing contemporary Islamist dissent into a deeper context of human evolutionary history.” (Richard Phelps, Financial Times )
“Atran has given us a remarkablly honest book, demonstrating that down-to-earth field work can give us a far superior understanding of what makes terrorists ‘tick’ than whole armies of armchair counterterroris ‘experts.’” (Alex Schmid, Perspectives on Terrorism )
“Atran’s intellectual reach is prodigious; his analysis of the underpinnings of terrorism is instructive, if often unconventional; and his provocative prescriptions merit debate and consideration.” (Publishers Weekly )
“Sets us and our governments straight about a long list of dubious assumptions. He is sure that we must talk before we shoot, and that we must learn to distinguish real threats from imagined ones.” (Jeremy Harding, London Review of Books )
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
I live in Israel, where the question of the nature of terrorism and how to deal with is a daily, existential issue. Both here and in the US, everybody, including decision makers have well-entrenched views on what terrorism is and how it should be dealt with. The right 'knows' it needs to be eradicated by use of power; the left 'knows' that most terrorism, particularly Islamic terror, is only a reaction to Western imperialism, and if we were only 'nice' to everybody, it would stop. So most views on terrorism are based on previous mindsets, and most 'specialists' have made up their minds, and are no longer confused by the facts.
Atran's book is based on two pillars: one is his long-standing work on the evolutionary basis of religion (which I have reviewed in the past); the other is his anthropological research on radical religious groups. As opposed to all the 'all-knowing' experts, Atran has done extensive research that has included talking to members of most of the groups that are today lumped together as terrorist organizations. He has also done extensive research on the mind sets of radical religious groups. Lastly, he has been involved in the most systematic research done so far on how terror cells involved in the attacks of 9/11, Madrid and 7/7 have actually come into being.
'Talking to the Enemy' shows in micro-detail the psychological and social mechanisms that bind people together into groups that will engage in terror.Read more ›
Atran devotes a fascinating chapter to criticizing the so-called New Atheists (e.g. Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris) and explains to the reader how their lack of understanding of religion embarrases him to be an atheist. He takes on some other dubious beliefs: that the "surge" in Afghanistan or other violence will eliminate terrorism. This is a true scientific work; Atran rarely relies on his own intution, but cites scientific studies to prove his case.I came close to giving this book 5 stars, which I something I almost never do.
I did not give it 5 stars, ultimately, because I see two flaws in it: 1. I think Atran underestimates the religious motivation behind terrorism. He's correct that there are other factors, but goes too far in downplaying this important belief. 2. He's a little overconfident on the compatibility of science with religion. This is somewhat surprising to me, as Atran has written eloquently against the "intelligent design" movement's threat to scientific education. These two flaws, however, do not destroy the book's effectiveness. It is still a tremendously enjoyable and educational work of science.
This book gives us a very thorough research and historical analysis of suicidal terrorism and and provides the cultural, historical, biological, cognitive, and religious framework necessary to understand the current status of conflict in the different parts of the world facing the constant of this threat.
It's important to mention, however, that the Auhor doesn't evaluate the spread of muslim and arabian culture into the different regions of the world where they continually face a direct threat to the hard fought values, ideals, laws and democratic principles of modern western societies. While the author mentions the rather successful adaptation of the muslim population in the US, in Europe specially it seems to be a different issue at the moment, that I personally think was overlooked as a source of potential conflict. This is particularly obvious with regards to the mysoginistic, patriarchal, and homophobic views of a significant percentage of its adherents (definitely not all).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Quality book in fine condition delivered in a timely way. Thanks.Published 7 months ago by thomas e.
Okay, he knows a lot about terrorists and terrorism. He's also a pretty brave guy, in my book. But, I never found any deep insight that impressed me and I didn't get it to read... Read morePublished 10 months ago by David H. Eisenberg
An excellent, albeit somewhat meandering, study of terrorists.Published 11 months ago by Sean Everton
Intense, informative, intriguing. Well reasoned-out. Strong logic. Some of the take-it-for-granted-to-be-true statements would have been better served if there had been a bit more... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Curt Rhodes
Hoping to better understand the allure of terrorism, especially explosive self sacrifice, for young Muslims. Heard an interview with Scott Atran and ordered his book. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Joseph Graham
His observations and comments are somewhat prosaic. It is not the enlightened insightful book that I was expecting. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Peter J. Piaseckyj
Certainly the most humanistic reading I have done on the subject of Islamic Terrorism. I now have a more accurate picture of the types of people who become involved and in what... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Marilyn
I wanted to like this book, I really did. I saw the author interviewed on cable news, and he seemed to be a well-spoken expert on terrorism. Read morePublished on May 4, 2013 by Abe Krieger
My son had to do a senoir project on this subject. This book helped him get an A on it.Published on April 2, 2013 by Momma6