The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State

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The definitive account of the strategy, psychology, and fundamentalism driving the Islamic State, from the author of the groundbreaking Atlantic story “What ISIS Really Wants.”

“Fascinating, terrifying, occasionally blackly humorous.”—Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature, on “What ISIS Really Wants”

Tens of thousands of men and women have left comfortable, privileged lives to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—and kill for it. To them, its violence is beautiful and holy, and the caliphate a fulfillment of prophecy and the only place on earth where they can live and die as Muslims.

The Way of the Strangers is an intimate journey into the minds of the Islamic State’s most radical true believers. From the streets of Cairo to the mosques of London, Graeme Wood interviews supporters, recruiters, and sympathizers of the group. We meet an Egyptian tailor who once made bespoke suits for Paul Newman and now wants to live, finally, under Shariah; a Japanese convert who believes that the eradication of borders—one of the Islamic State’s proudest achievements—is a religious imperative; and a charming, garrulous Australian preacher who translates the group’s sermons and threats into English and is accused of recruiting for the organization. We also learn about a prodigy of Islamic rhetoric, now stripped of the citizenship of the nation of his birth and determined to see it drenched in blood. Wood speaks with non–Islamic State Muslim scholars and jihadists, and explores the group’s idiosyncratic, coherent approach to Islam.

The Islamic State is bent on murder and apocalypse, but its followers find meaning and fellowship in its utopian dream. Its first caliph, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, has declared that he is the sole legitimate authority for Muslims worldwide. The theology, law, and emotional appeal of the Islamic State are key to understanding it—and predicting what its followers will do next.

Through character study and analysis, Wood provides a clear-eyed look at a movement that has inspired so many people to abandon or uproot their families. Many seek death—and they will be the terror threat of the next decade, as they strike back against the countries fighting their caliphate. Just as Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower informed our understanding of Al Qaida, Graeme Wood’s The Way of the Strangers will shape how we see a new generation of terrorists.

Praise for The Way of the Strangers

“Readers are taken on a global journey to meet the frothing fans of ISIS. . . . Wood wants to know these people, to get in their skin, to understand how they see the world. Unlike most journalists writing about Islam today, there is no partisan axe to grind here, no hidden agenda to subtly advance.”New Republic

“The best way to defeat the Islamic State is to understand it. And to do that, the best place to start is [The Way of the Strangers]. . . . A series of gripping, fascinating portraits. . . . Wood has the talented journalist’s skill for interview and observation. He’s an astute psychologist and a good writer to boot. . . . It’s a great read.”The Week

“[Graeme Wood] shows, convincingly, that the stifling and abhorrent practices of the Islamic State are rooted in Islam itself—not mainstream Islam, but in scriptures and practices that have persisted for centuries. . . . The Islamic State, such as it is, is a dangerous place, and Wood’s book amounts to a tour around its far edges.”—Dexter Filkins, The New York Times Book Review 
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About the author

Graeme Wood is a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has written for The New Republic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg Businessweek, The American Scholar, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and many other publications. He was the 2014–2015 Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and he teaches in the political science department at Yale University.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Random House
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Published on
Dec 20, 2016
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9780812988765
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Middle East / General
Political Science / Terrorism
Religion / Islam / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Ken Alibek
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What you are about to read has never before been made public. Ken Alibek began his career as a doctor wanting to save lives and ended up running the Soviet biological weapons program—a secret military empire masquerading as a pharmaceutical company. At its peak, the program employed sixty thousand people at over one hundred facilities. Seven reserve mobilization plants were on permanent standby, ready to produce hundreds of tons of plague, anthrax, smallpox, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis, to name only a few of the toxic agents bred in Soviet labs. Almost every government ministry was implicated, including the Academy of Sciences and the KGB.
        
Biohazard is a terrifying, fast-paced account of tests and leaks, accidents and disasters in the labs, KGB threats and assassinations. The book is full of revelations—evidence of biowarfare programs in Cuba and India, actual deployments at Stalingrad and in Afghanistan, experiments with mood-altering agents, a contingency plan to attack major American cities, and the true story behind the mysterious anthrax outbreak in Sverdlovsk. But beyond these is a twisted world of lies and mirrors, and the riveting parable of the greatest perversion of science in history.
        
No one knows the actual capabilities of biological weapons better than Dr. Alibek. Many of the scientists who worked with him have been lured away from low-paying Russian labs to rogue regimes and terrorist groups around the world. In our lifetime, we will most likely see a terrorist attack using biological weapons on an American city. Biohazard tells us—in chilling detail—what to expect and what we can do. Not since Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon has there been such a book—a report from inside the belly of the beast.

Praise for Biohazard
 
“Harrowing . . . richly descriptive . . . [an] absorbing account.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Remarkable . . . terrifying revelations . . . [Ken Alibek’s] overall message is ignored at great national peril.”—Newsday
 
“Read and be amazed. . . . An important and fascinating look into a terrifying world of which we were blissfully unaware.”—Robin Cook, author of Contagion


From the Hardcover edition.
James E. Mitchell, Ph.D.
In the dark days immediately after 9/11, the CIA turned to Dr. James Mitchell to help craft an interrogation program designed to elicit intelligence from just-captured top al-Qa'ida leaders and terror suspects.  

A civilian contractor who had spent years training U.S. military members to resist interrogation should they be captured, Mitchell, aware of the urgent need to prevent impending catastrophic attacks, worked with the CIA to implement "enhanced interrogation techniques"--which included waterboarding.

In Enhanced Interrogation, Mitchell now offers a first-person account of the EIT program, providing a contribution to our historical understanding of one of the most controversial elements of America's ongoing war on terror.  Readers will follow him inside the secretive "black sites" and cells of terrorists and terror suspects where he personally applied enhanced interrogation techniques.

Mitchell personally questioned thirteen of the most senior high-value detainees in U.S. custody, including Abu Zubaydah; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the amir or "commander" of the USS Cole bombing; and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, terror attacks--obtaining information that he maintains remains essential to winning the war against al-Qa'ida and informing our strategy to defeat ISIS and all of radical Islam.

From the interrogation program's earliest moments to its darkest hours, Mitchell also lifts the curtain on its immediate effects, the controversy surrounding its methods, and its downfall. He shares his view that EIT, when applied correctly, were useful in drawing detainees to cooperate, and that, when applied incorrectly, they were counter-productive.  He also chronicles what it is like to undertake a several-years-long critical mission at the request of the government only to be hounded for nearly a decade afterward by congressional investigations and Justice Department prosecutors.

Gripping in its detail and deeply illuminating, Enhanced Interrogation argues that it is necessary for America to take strong measures to defend itself from its enemies and that the country is less safe now without them than it was before 9/11.
Graeme Wood
¿Qué es el Estado Islámico? ¿De dónde surgió? ¿Cuáles son sus intenciones?

La guerra del fin de los tiempos, un viaje fascinante y profundo por las mentes de los verdaderos creyentes en el Estado Islámico, nos revela su psicología, su carácter y sus objetivos.

De las calles de El Cairo a las mezquitas de Londres pasando por las afueras de Melbourne, Wood sigue los pasos y entrevista a defensores, reclutadores y miembros del grupo yihadista más infame del mundo. Nos encontramos con un sastre egipcio que pasó de hacerle trajes a medida a Paul Newman a vivir bajo la sharia; un converso australiano que se dedica a traducir al inglés los sermones y las amenazas del grupo; y un clérigo musulmán autodidacta decidido a ver Estados Unidos, su nación de nacimiento, empapada en sangre.

Basado en un acercamiento sin precedentes a miembros de alto rango del Estado Islámico, este libro es una inmersión en el dogma apocalíptico sobre el que reposa la visión del mundo de este grupo. Solo si aceptamos que el Estado Islámico verdaderamente cree que el fin está cerca podremos entender su estrategia y predecir sus próximos movimientos.

Graeme Wood ofrece también un imponente y oportuno análisis aclaratorio de las diferencias y divisiones fundamentales dentro del islam, lo que da lugar a una imagen compleja y matizada que rompe por completo con los estereotipos a menudo engañosos que prevalecen en Europa.

Reseñas:
«Fascinante e indispensable. Un viaje al fin de la noche alrededor del mundo. Como individuos, los hombres con los que se topa son inadaptados, incluso perdedores. Pero su ideología milenaria los convierte en las personas más peligrosas del planeta.»
Niall Ferguson

«Un viaje global al encuentro de los rabiosos fans del Estado Islámico. A diferencia de la mayoría de los periodistas que escriben sobre el islam hoy en día, en Woodno hay visión sesgada ni una agenda oculta.»
The New Republic

«La mejor manera de vencer al Estado Islámico es entenderlo. Y para ello, la mejor manera de empezar es este libro. Una gran lectura. Deberían leer este libro.»
The Week

«El Estado islámico es un lugar peligroso, y este libro es un recorrido por sus extremos.»
Dexter Filkins, The New York Times Book Review

«Digno de Conrad. El libro más entretenido escrito sobre el estado islámico. La parte cómica emerge principalmente del desequilibrio entre la escala de las pretensiones y ambiciones de sus personajes y la banalidad de sus vidas cotidianas. Apasionante, serio y revelador.»
New Statesman

«Imprescindible. Wood desmantela una serie de reconfortantes engaños.»
National Review

«Esta es la obra definitiva sobre los orígenes, los planes y el significado de la organización terrorista más peligrosa del mundo. Wood es intrépido, incesantemente curioso y magnéticamente atractivo. Un logro.»
The Atlantic

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