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My Brother, My Enemy: America and the Battle of Ideas Across the Islamic World Hardcover – July 27, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Reporting from insurgencies, war zones, and America's military, longtime journalist Smucker (Al Qaeda's Great Escape) analyzes the fraught relationship between the Arab world and the U.S. with an emphasis on how American foreign policy exacerbated Islamic extremism and, in particular, has radicalized young Muslims. Drawing on interviews with students, journalists, and soldiers on all sides, the author argues cogently that decades of wrongheaded American policy--propping up oppressive demagogues in the region and America's persistent failure to assertively pursue Israeli-Palestinian peace-- have been instrumental in sowing anti-U. S. animus, as has been the misguided response of the Bush administration to September 11: the invasion of the already beleaguered Afghanistan, a country that had nothing to do with the attacks; the demonizing of Islam; and America "gloating" as Saddam was toppled. While Smucker allows that relations won't be warmed quickly, "stubbornly continuing to fight without attempting to see through the eyes of our brothers and our enemies is a dead end." He calls instead for foreign policy shifts to give "soft power" and diplomacy a lead role in the efforts to eventually replace war and distrust with stability and cooperation.
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"My Brother, My Enemy is a riveting, first-hand account of the war on terror--and what has gone wrong with it--since 9/11. Philip Smucker has met, talked to, and even lived with Jihadists from Yemen to Iraq, Timbuktu to Waziristan. He tells the story of what happens when America goes abroad 'in search of monsters to destroy.'" --Paul Wood, BBC Mideast Correspondent, Jerusalem

"Philip Smucker makes an impassioned argument for understanding and reconciliation. Traversing a broad swath of the world's great Islamic societies, from northern Africa to Indonesia , he mingles a multitude of personal experiences with insights and analysis. The ultimate goal is peaceful resolution of the great 'war on terror' that pits U.S.-led forces against a wide range of enemies. He avoids demonizing either or any side in a search for a better way of both waging war and making peace. As the title suggests, our enemies also are our brothers, and the war will end only when we recognize our common bond as people with similar yearnings, hopes, and fears....The author himself sides only with a desire to resolve conflict. He suggests how in a final section devoted to sensitive and colorful first-person reporting from the battlegrounds of Afghanistan . Moving from there to the plain at West Point , he offers criticism and advice that those closest to the war zone may want to consider seriously." --Donald Kirk, Asia expert, correspondent, Christian Science Monitor, author of Korea Betrayed

"Philip Smucker has drawn upon his many years of on-the-ground reporting in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia to craft a practical and astute assessment of America's standing in the Islamic world. He disdains the hyperbolic and fear-mongering rhetoric that so many politicians and pundits favor about the clash between America and Islamic extremists, and instead offers a reasoned analysis of America's challenge. Moreover, he correctly identifies the key to any potential American success in its 'battle of ideas'--brokering an even-handed solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict." --Michael K. Bohn, former director of the Reagan White House's Situation Room and author of The Achille Lauro Hijacking: Lessons in the Politics and Prejudice of Terrorism.

"Philip Smucker has written a deeply reported and engaging account of his long journey across the worlds of Islam from Iraq to Indonesia (and even to Timbuktu!). During that journey he delivers a lively account of the state of play between the West and the 'Muslim world' that will be of great interest to readers of all types. A terrific read with many wise things to say about the often difficult nature of the Western-Islamic relationship." --Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc. and The Osama bin Laden I Know.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 377 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (July 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616141840
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616141844
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,160,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Why do they hate us? How'd we miss Osama? Why do Muslims and Christians kill each other? These are a few of the conundrums author Philip Smucker tackles as he dissects the roots of Islamic extremism, global jihad, and the disconnect between Islam and the West.

The former war correspondent and Pulitzer Prize nominated investigative journalist's previous book, the acclaimed Al Qaeda's Great Escape (2004), revealed how the American military failed to capture Osama bin Laden in the highlands of Afghanistan. His recent follow-up, My Brother, My Enemy, is an enlightening and insightful narrative examining why US foreign policy is failing again, this time to win over the hearts and minds of the Islamic world.

As an American living in Indonesia, a moderate Muslim democracy of more than 240 million people, I see a different face of Islam than is often depicted on television screens in the West. I applaud the author's latest offering as a compelling commentary on this perception gap examining not only the causes, but offering insights for resolution.

Philip Smucker's edifying treatise is one not only politicians and military brass should heed, but the western public as well.

Monte Monfore
Swimming For A Better World
Bali, Indonesia
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Format: Hardcover
Philip Smucker, best known for revealing Osama bin Laden's escape from Tora Bora, is back with a great book that provides an amazing overview of the wider Islamic world (i.e. not just Iraq and Afghanistan). Smucker takes great pains to offer a variety of opinions from across the globe to help illustrate how Muslim's perceive America. Along the way, Smucker helps us understand how Americans misperceive not only the Islam world, but ourselves...are we liberators or occupiers?

You may also want to check out Smucker's new HD video: Osama's Ghost
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading My Brother, My Enemy and found it to be extraordinarily informative and enlightening. Based on my experience as a Police Mentor/Advisor in Afghanistan and my research into Middle East politics, Phil has hit a homerun. This is a must read for anyone engaged or interested in mission work, foreign service, global terrorism, international politics, or world religions.

Through his personal experiences, some of them while he was undercover as a Bosnian Muslim, Phil paints a realistic picture of how America and her policies are viewed by the Islamic world, and how those views are influencing global terrorism and our fight against it. With all the changes going on in the world today, this book will help you understand the underlying reasons why. 5 stars for sure...!

Sheriff Ray Nash
Police Dynamics Institute
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Format: Hardcover
Mr. Smucker has written a fast paced and informative survey of the state of our relations with what is known as "the Muslim World" based on his own wide ranging and often dangerous travels within it. The most fascinating chapter in this book is an account of time spent in the home of an Iraqi family just as that country's insurgency was gathering force. It is easy to feel the anger and fear fueling the insurgency from the inside, and to see that these were not just wild eyed radicals (although these were there and inspired even more fear among the Iraqis than they did among the coalition) but solid, middle class families whose actions, given the context of our poorly planned occupation, now seem to have been almost inevitable.

In Israel, the West Bank, and Syria, the author was able to meet with key players from both Israel and its antagonists in the region, offering a clear view, with his on-the-site writing, on how much damage the settlements actually do both to the Palestinians and to hopes for peace.

The book offers invaluable insights into the nature of our current relations with the Muslim world and, perhaps more importantly, he lends an ear - our ear - to the voices drowned out in the nightly roar of the talking heads. Mr. Smucker cares a great deal about the welfare of his own America, but makes the case that our being true to our own values of freedom, fairness, and tolerance gives us the best opportunity for helping to bring about a fair peace in the Middle East and an enduring improvement in our dealings with the vast numbers of people in the complex, kaleidoscopic Muslim world.
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Format: Hardcover
First, we need to drop the idea of winning, in any conventional sense.

Second, in Afghanistan, to really conduct a counterinsurgency there, although Smucker won't throw out a number, it seems reasonable to say, from his writing, we need at least 300,000 troops there for at least another decade.

But, Smucker doesn't just write about Afghanistan and Iraq. He covers Indonesia, including its fringe islands and not just Java. He covers Timbuktu and other places in the African Sahel. He even has a bit on Bosnia.

This is both well-written and well-researched. Smucker spells out what all is involved with engaging Muslim hearts and minds, as well as winning them. Step one is a reasonably "just" peace in the Middle East, which means, as necessary, "leaning" on Israel even more, as well as engaging Hamas when possible and advisable.

Will Obama tell us the truth on this? Will Petraeus tell us the truth on Afghanistan troop needs? Or, in both cases, will our country continue to muddle along?

Smucker seems cautiously optimistic. Let's hope he's right.
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