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Winning The Minds: Travels through the terrorist recruiting grounds of Yemen, Pakistan, and the Somali border Paperback – August 27, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Francisco Martin-Rayo holds a BA in international relations and a BSc in economics from the University of Pennsylvania as well as a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, where he was an International and Global Affairs Fellow. He is an expert in counter-radicalization and public diplomacy programs and his work has been published by Foreign Policy magazine, The Guardian newspaper, and Harvard University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: CITA Press (August 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615653448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615653440
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,670,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I sat down to read the book and almost got through it in one go because I was so captivated by the story and Martin-Rayo's fluid style. For a book of such heavy material and policy importance, I found it a surprising entertaining and easy read but nonetheless very informative and enlightening on the subject of refugee camps education and terrorist recruitment. Such a balance is hard to strike but Martin-Rayo excels at the style. While I'm sure the book would be a very interesting read for experts in the field given its first-hand accounts, it doesn't presuppose knowledge of the region, conflicts or policy. As a matter of fact, the author routinely incorporates succinct but very informative background information into the text which clarified many aspects of local society and Muslim history and religion to me (for instance I've never known the roots of the schism between Shia and Sunnis but it is efficiently explained on two pages of the book). The only reason I'd give this book four out of five stars is the lack of photos to help the reader form an even better picture of the sites visited. Given the colorful and lively descriptions in the narrative we can clearly imagine what Martin-Rayo has seen, however the repeated mentioning of his travails with his camera leaves the reader longing for an accompanying photo book (maybe a suggestion for the future).
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Format: Paperback
Rarely has a book shed such a realistic light on the dynamics and the serious challenges faced in this part of the world. As a result of sound topical insight, intellectual openness, and on the ground experience, 'Winning the Minds' is the first account that paints a multi-faceted and accurate picture of these hot spots. It offers some pragmatic solutions to the much discussed but so rarely understood roots of unrest, discontent and peril. A must read for academics and policy-makers alike.
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Format: Paperback
Francisco Martin-Rayo was following the pathway of graduate student, reading international relations, economics and public policy in all the right universities until one day he realized that he war on terrorism was being related to the public and to the government by people who had not actually lived the life of what is happening on the ground in countries besieged by wars and controlled by terrorist recruiters. His solution was to get off his tush and travel to the hotspots of terrorist recruitment, live with the people and discover the truth about these zones for counterterrorism.

Martin-Rayo is multilingual (including Arabic) and was able to get into the inner aspects of such frightening places as Dadaab, Kenya, dominated by al-Shabaab, the most recent al-Qaeda franchisee; Peshawar, Pakistan, the site of terrifying camps where the Taliban actively recruits fighters; and Kharaz in southern Yemen in the heart of Al-Qaeda territory. His writing is rich in tales of the dangers and the arrests he endured, but it is also filled with some of the most humanistic and at times humorous insights as to why young children are recruited to be terrorists. Example: a young student when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up answered `I want to join Al-Qaeda. Because they are winning in Somalia. Because I want peace, I want to go back home, and you have to choose a side.'

From there Martin-Roja gradually details his analysis of the US counterterrorism policy. 'I am by no means advocating that America's counterterrorism efforts should focus exclusively on combating ideological extremism through educational initiatives, nor do I believe that the United States should base its national security on humanitarian concerns.
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Format: Paperback
Martin-Rayo's labor of love is a important entry in the studies of modern- day terrorism as well as a tremendous debut. He brings a human element to his analysis that is needed in understanding how terrible circumstances, opportunism and politicial/strategic missteps have created this modern day problematic of far reaching consequences. I enjoyed his prose and i could not recommend it enough.
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By Londa on September 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is incredible! I couldn't put it down. It's a hilarious, clever account of the author's journey. It is a great read for those who are already well-versed in the regions but also accessible to those who know nothing of the situation. Besides being a captivating narrative, the book ends in practicality by providing insightful suggestions for U.S. foreign policy. I can only hope that people in positions of power will read this book and take into consideration his remarkable perspective.
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When I first picked up this book I was expecting another policy book. But the author's first hand account of events, entertaining story telling, and open mindedness makes this book a joy to read while simultaneously providing a new perspective on an issue that is saturated by mile high analsys and speculations. This on the ground account will open your eyes to some of the problems with US Foreign Policy while at the same time laughing as the author gets himself into unexpected situations.
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Format: Paperback
Brilliant work by the author and an eye-opening account. This is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the ground realities of countering terrorism. The author does a fantastic job of depicting the views of children, which reminds us how the world continues to take a short term approach to a long term problem. The book reads extremely well and keeps you captivated till the very end !
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