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My Year Inside Radical Islam: A Memoir Hardcover – February 1, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is most useful as a candid autobiography of one man's spiritual quest and the dead end it nearly reached in fundamentalism. The author describes the increasing conservatism of his mindset during his weeks at the foundation with objectivity and plausibility. As the author remarks, this mindset is important to understand, because it contradicts both liberal and conservative dogma about what motivates America's Islamist enemies.
But those who hope for a real look "inside radical Islam" will be disappointed, as this is much more a personal account than a journalistic one. For the real "inside" of radical Islam, we would have to look substantially farther east than the liberal enclave of Ashland, Oregon. The title oversells the book, but it is a quick read and besides its value as the account of one callow youth's spiritual journey, it will be useful to any reader with traditional assumptions about why the Islamists fight.
"My Year Inside Radical Islam" is a highly satisfying and intelligent book that takes readers inside his head as hunted for spiritual answers, transitioning from liberal campus activist to radical Muslim who supported gender segregation, prayed for Mujahideen victories and worked for an outfit that was assisting al Qaeda pre-9/11.
It is not a sensational exposé and it is certainly not a throw-away political book. Gartenstein-Ross' details his journey in an understated and soft-spoken manner, which engages the reader extraordinarily well, and he approaches the people who ultimately led him down the path to radicalization in a non-judgmental fashion. He also approaches the religion of Islam in a manner that devout Muslims can appreciate and non-Muslims can understand.
While the scope of the book is limited to Gartenstein-Ross' personal experience, it provides insight into the radicalization process and provides a personal context with which to understand what others - Western and non-Western alike - found attractive in radical Islam.
All in all, highly recommended.
More importantly, I saw the book as a very deep and personal description of one man's struggle to find religious conviction. I was captivated by Daveed's journey and how his employers and those associated with them used religion as justification for preaching hatred and animosity. In my opinion, one thing that is generally misunderstood about the war on terror is that the enemy we face is different than any we have ever faced. The enemies that we are fighting derive their inspiration from their God, not from human leaders. Thus, theological arguments can be crafted into indisputable orders. The book does a fantastic job of revealing this point.
Daveed captures his struggles with a very well-written and thought-provoking narrative. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to understand the theological allure of radical Islam and how threatening radical interpretations of Islam can be. Islam itself is not the problem; instead the problem and threat we face rests in those who twist their faith in a radical way, calling for the death of man-made governments and the death of any person who doesn't believe in their aggressors' version of Islam.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The title of the book might be a little misleading. The author didn't exactly spend a year inside a radical Islamic sect. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Alex Underwood
Lost soul. Intelligent but no common sense. Painful to read religious analysis. He tries to analyse intellectually but it's all based on belief which cannot be analyzed. Read morePublished on July 8, 2013 by Smiley
I'm a Christian, so if I want to read books on Christianity, I certainly don't select a title like "My Year Inside Radical Islam". Read morePublished on March 10, 2013 by Buddy's Pop
I highly recommend this book. Easy to read, candid and thought provoking. This book is certainly worth both time and money. Read morePublished on September 27, 2012 by reader
I have read many books on Islam and have enjoyed this one because of the author's perspective. I continue to wonder why someone would embrace Islam after reading the Koran and/or... Read morePublished on September 1, 2011 by Amazon Customer
Although the author flirted with radical islam, he was only able to speak of his experience, which to me was nothing major. Really more of a warning. Read morePublished on February 4, 2011 by The Professor
Daveed's conversion to Islam and slow radicalization is a classic scenario of cult absorption. He's attracted to Islam by a Left wing friend at Wake Forest, and paradoxically his... Read morePublished on November 12, 2009 by J. Dooley
The author was brought up in the hippie enclave of Ashland, Oregon, by liberal Jewish parents who followed the New Age philosophy of Joel Goldsmith. Read morePublished on March 10, 2009 by Midasin
The author, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, mentioned in "My Year Inside
Radical Islam" that, at one point, he was mildly embarrassed when
he had to explain his religious... Read more