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Comment: Hardcover with clean dust jacket and minor shelf-wear on edges and corners. Binding is tight and square. Interior pages are free from underlining, note taking, and/or highlighting. Eligible for Amazon's FREE Super Saver/Prime Shipping, 24/7 Customer service and package tracking 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
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My Year Inside Radical Islam: A Memoir Hardcover – February 1, 2007

3.9 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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From Publishers Weekly

Born into a spiritually ambiguous family (his parents are nonpracticing Jews who follow the "Infinite Way"), Gartenstein-Ross grew up in the 1980s, in Ashland, Ore., a bucolic, posthippie paradise with a live-and-let-live ethic. Spiritually adrift through his teens, he discovers Islam through a classmate at Wake Forest University. Gartenstein-Ross—young and searching, like so many Americans of his socioeconomic class—quickly falls under the spell of fiercely committed Muslims. He begins working for al Harman, a radical Islamic charity that would eventually be linked to al-Qaeda, and soon starts a simultaneous process of being drawn deeper into the world of radical Islam and being repulsed by its brutal realities. Gartenstein-Ross fights an inner battle between his idealism, shaped by his socially conscious if somewhat scattered liberal upbringing, and his sense of the growing gap between his personal notion of Islam and the mounting list of rules and limitations its practice entails. This would seem compelling stuff, but throughout the story seems blunted. Even the chapters near the end that deal with Gartenstein-Ross's role as an informer for the FBI after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, lack tension and real insight into the dilemma faced by so many cut adrift in Western secular culture. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Gartenstein-Ross reveals how widening doctrinal tensions are dividing twenty-first-century expressions of Islam in this memoir of his journey into and out of the faith. Raised by freethinking Jewish parents in a world of former hippies, Gartenstein-Ross finds himself pondering ultimate questions after two brushes with death. Friendship with a progressive Shiite Muslim offers answers. Gartenstein-Ross therefore converts. But both he and his Shiite friend subsequently encounter--and then cross over--the chasm separating moderates from radical orthodoxy. Gartenstein-Ross even works for a Muslim charity diverting funds to terrorists. After eventually turning away from the group hatreds and anti-intellectualism of radical Islam, Gartenstein-Ross embraces Christianity--and becomes an FBI informant. To his great joy, he subsequently discovers that his Shiite friend has likewise turned away from radicalism and has returned to moderate Islam. For readers trying to understand Muslims on both sides of the radical-moderate divide, Gartenstein-Ross' story will be an eye-opener. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher (February 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585425516
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585425518
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #315,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel H. Bigelow VINE VOICE on May 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It is more accurate to characterize this as a memoir of the author's flirtation with radical Islam: a flirtation that burgeoned over the course of a year or so but really blossomed only for the three months he worked for an Ashland foundation dedicated to the spread of Wahhabism. The book starts with the author recounting a New Age spiritual upbringing dedicated more to seeking spiritual fulfillment than to living with answers once they're found. When he drifts into Islam, he finds himself drawn to the idea of an end to the quest for answers: the more fundamentalists he hangs out with, the more decisions he finds God has already made for him. But as he competes with his co-religionists for the honor of being considered the most orthodox, he finds his increasingly rigid life and attitudes at odds with his freewheeling and liberal upbringing. He begins drifting away from the fundamentalist life as soon as he leaves employment at the foundation. Eventually he converts to Christianity.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Of all the books about Islam that I've read to try to understand it, none other has given me such an enjoyably intimate portrait of the way that the religion actually works on people. Gartenstein-Ross's experiences are so revealing because as you read you can imagine how you might have been led to the same radical politics that he was. He shows you how it happeneed gradually and how it all seemed pretty logical at the time (this was all before 9-11). It's also very well written. He's very mart and it makes you wonder if someone with so much intelligence could take such dangerous positions, what chance do the great masses of unschooled followers have against the persuasions of their faith. I'm glad he's back to tell his story!
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By Soldado on February 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Gartenstein-Ross vividly tells the story of his spiritual journey in this book. Insightful and thoughtful, this book is a must-read for those seeking to understand the appeal of radical Islam in order to learn how to combat it. Best book I have read all year.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was indeed very difficult to put down; I read it in about 3 days. I am not sure if it is Daveed's inviting writing style or the fact that he and I share much in common, but the book seems to really draw you in. I happen to work in the counter-terrorism field myself, and I have yet to read a book that truly spells out how one could descend into radical Islam, or radically into any religion for that matter. By the end of the book, the reader will most likely feel that he or she knows Daveed personally; this is not always easy to accomplish, even in memoirs. I am, however, surprised to see only two other reviews of this book at this time. I truly hope more people read it. There is no reason this shouldn't rank high on the NYT best-seller list.
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Format: Hardcover
The ranks of al Qaeda have included Daniel Maldonado, Jose Padilla, Adam Gadahn and David Hicks - all youthful Western converts to Islam who one way or another became radicalised. The process of radicalization and the path that one takes are rarely explored in publications and materials available outside of counterterrorism circles and never before with a personal narrative as contained in Daveed Gartenstein-Ross' memoir.

"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.
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Format: Hardcover
While I was reading Daveed's memior, I couldn't help but read it on two different levels. On one level, I saw it as an informational account about radical Islamic doctrine. In this capacity, it helped shed light on the various contours of radical Islamic law and how people can interpret these laws differently. Additionally, I found it interesting how various theological arguments can be made so convincing.

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.
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