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The Next Front: Southeast Asia and the Road to Global Peace with Islam Hardcover – September 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0470503904 ISBN-10: 0470503904 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470503904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470503904
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,318,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

If you think the next front in the fight against global terrorism is in Pakistan or Afghanistan, this book will startle you. Four-term U.S. Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond and veteran foreign correspondent Lewis M. Simons reveal that the next front is taking shape right now in a part of the world most Americans haven't thought about since the Vietnam war: Southeast Asia.

Bond and Simons demonstrate compellingly that by beginning in Southeast Asia the Obama administration can reverse the devastating effects of failed policies throughout the Islamic community. The key is a new "smart power" approach, one that combines the "soft" tools of diplomatic, economic, and personal outreach with the fallback "hard" option of military force.

Southeast Asia is home to one of the greatest concentrations of Muslims on Earth. More Muslims live in Indonesia alone than in the entire Middle East. Historically, they have been religious moderates. But today, Islamic fundamentalism and anti-Americanism are on the rise, fueled by the United States' intimate alliance with Israel, its invasion of Iraq, the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, and the Guantanamo Bay imprisonments. These have provoked outrage and provided seemingly irrefutable evidence of America's universal disregard for Muslims.

While this picture is bleak, the central theme of The Next Front is that it is not too late for the United States to turn the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism in Southeast Asia.

Americans rarely pay serious attention to other nations until they suddenly perceive them to be a threat. Then they find themselves woefully lacking in information and understanding. Hoping to avoid that recurring flaw, Bond and Simons invite readers to travel with them through Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, meeting people at all levels of society. Drawing on their decades of experience, they speak with—and, more importantly, listen to—presidents and prime ministers, soldiers and policemen, teachers, mothers, lawyers, clergymen, and terrorists. Their stories provide exceptional insights into the politics and economies of their countries as well as their personal concerns, motivations, hopes, and fears. With unremitting candor, they reveal complex and often conflicting feelings about America that range from admiration and affection to resentment and hostility. If the United States is to regain respect around the world and stem the tide of religious extremism in Southeast Asia, it must listen to these people and weigh the value of what they seek from us. Americans in sandals and sneakers today will eliminate the need for Americans in combat boots tomorrow.

From the Back Cover

Advance praise for the next front

"The Next Front is an eye-opener. Senator Kit Bond and Lew Simons reawaken us to Southeast Asia. Here's the way to mutual respect between America and Islam."
—Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball and NBC's The Chris Matthews Show

"The Next Front is important reading for anyone interested in America's relations with the world's Muslims. Bond and Simons demonstrate that a piece of the solution lies with the huge Islamic population of Southeast Asia, a vital region we have largely ignored since the end of the Vietnam War."
—Sen. John McCain

"Kit Bond and Lew Simons masterfully articulate the importance of incorporating Southeast Asia and its Islamic majority into a new twenty-first-century style of diplomatic engagement. Required reading for today's policymakers and anyone who is concerned about the spread of religious extremism."
—Sen. John Kerry, Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

"Rare insights that could only be offered by these two individuals—one a United States senator and the other a Pulitzer Prize winner, both of whom have fastidiously worked to build bridges between the people of Southeast Asia and the United States."
—Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), ranking member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

"Bond and Simons have cornered the elusive enemy we all face. It is mutual ignorance. . . . The Next Front presents a bold, new, outside-the-box way of thinking for Americans to achieve understanding and peace with Muslims throughout the world."
—Greg Mortenson, author of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller, Three Cups of Tea


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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Important book for anyone interested in timely world issues.
Fred S. Claar
The book focuses on the spread of Islamic fundamentalist and Islamic terrorism through an area composed primarily of moderate Muslims.
Hayden Brown
I wanted to say "I loved this book," but that might demean its gravitas.
Catherine I. Gandel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By cooke on October 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is the best book on Islam or terrorism in the last ten years. The extraordinary circumstances under which it was written, as a collaboration between Sen. Bond and Simons, sets it apart from an ocean of one-sided post-9/11 tomes. As a narrative, The Next Front is as exhilarating as Looming Tower or Three Cups of Tea, weaving together 30 characters across 6 countries--and yet it is intellectually satisfying in a way that far exceeds those books. The authors state their ambition in the introduction: "Americans need to penetrate the thinking of the region." Despite this enormous scope, The Next Front is a quick and easy read, unweighed by historical digressions or tedious statistics. In light of their political differences, Bond and Simons skip policy altogether and drill right to the people themselves and their stories. It is not, I should add, yet another overblown neo-orientalist travelogue, presuming to explain everything from Mohammed to global warming via a handful of windswept anecdotes on the way to the Dubai airport. The Next Front is an authoritative masterwork, grounded in decades of lived experience. I couldn't begin to summarize the "takeaways." The cover flap says it's about smart power vs Bush-era hard power, but of course all policies are "smart" by their own account. Unlike 99% of current affairs books, this simply must be read, cover to cover. It is "minimally redundant." The authors do offer some general policy proposals, scattered here and there, but there's no 14-point plan, few explicit answers nor implicit stereotypes, nor do they fall back on open-ended anecdotes. Rather, the authors bypass all prior pitfalls and convey the reality of Islam by way of an ingenious device--personas, personal stories representing complex demographics via authoritative storytellers (c.f.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Steven Raymond on October 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Next Front is being published at an opportune time because our Nobel Peace Prize-winning President Barak Obama needs Americans to better understand the Muslim ummah. Bond and Simons tell us how to achieve this vital goal: by putting Americans in "sandals and sneakers" on the ground in Southeast Asia. This important book should be on the "must-read" list of every American, including President Obama.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Catherine I. Gandel on October 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In The Next Front, Simons puts his Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist's skills to work and draws the reader into a complex subject: Islam in Southeast Asia. Countries, towns and villages come alive through details and interpretations. But it is the introduction to "real people" that makes the issues frighteningly clear, that America is "asleep at the switch" and needs to begin building relationships with Muslims in the "jungles, rice fields and emerging economic centers of Southeast Asia." This should be a wake-up call to policy makers and ordinary citizens. I wanted to say "I loved this book," but that might demean its gravitas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hilary E. Schwartz on October 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Next Front is an important book for anybody hoping to understand how America can constructively engage with the Islamic world. The book makes a strong argument in favor of placing Southeast Asia at the center of America's efforts to defuse the rising tide of religious extremism and it does so in a highly readable manner.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By George Fattman on October 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A compelling and readable book on a topic most Americans worry about -- radical Islam -- in a part of the world most Americans ignore -- Southeast Asia. The good news, Simons and Bond argue, is that the United States has an opportunity to improve relationships with moderate Islamic governments and thus counter burgeoning radical influence in an area heavily populated by Muslims. This, they argue, is indeed the next crisis for America, an opportunity we cannot afford to botch. Their story is told through engaging interviews with regional leaders who hope America will learn from mistakes made among Muslims farther west.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Craig M. Adler on October 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If more people in the world thought before acting and used the type of thinking that it took to create this work, then the world would be a better place and, quite simply, there would be less violence and more peace. It's that simple. A must read if you are committed to peace and to solving problems without violence whenever possible.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Crawford on October 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Lew Simons is the real deal -- a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has witnessed and written about the world's most significant news events. His writing goes far beyond conventional wisdom. He is exactly the kind of journalist we need to hear from about such complex issues.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Philip Mathews on October 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Washington will be well advised to pay special attention to what Simons and Bond say in this book if it wishes to understand the vast majority of the Muslim ummah, and avoid the mistakes of Vietnam and Afghanistan.
The authors' deep understanding of the region forms the backdrop for their assertion that the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism can be stemmed only by engaging Muslim Southeast Asia. This view is also shared by non-Muslim Southeast Asia.
This book is a must-read for policy makers, political analysts, journalists and everybody else interested in pursuing the road to global peace.
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