7 Books about ISIS That (Hopefully) Won't Get You Thrown Off a PlaneBorn of the Iraqi and Syrian civil wars, the Islamic State astonished the world in by creating a powerful new force in the Middle East. By combining religious fanaticism and military prowess, the new self-declared caliphate poses a threat to the political status quo of the whole region. Nobody else was writing that stuff at that time, and the judges wondered whether the Government should consider pensioning off the whole of MI6 and hiring Patrick Cockburn instead. He was almost always correct on Iraq. Cockburn draws on his considerable journalistic prowess to render this incredibly complex and misunderstood conflict comprehensible. His experience forms a useful text for those at all levels of familiarity with the conflict. His analysis offers an exceptional window into what is without doubt the most vital conflict the world is currently facing.
Book reviews: fresh insights on Islam and Isis
Where did ISIS come from? What do they want? Why do they do what they do? Here are ten of the best books on ISIS so far to answer these questions and more. Nadia Murad lived a quiet life in a small village in Northern Iraq with her brothers and sisters, always dreaming of where her future would take her.
Part of the problem, obvious to anyone who follows the news, is that a very small number of people who like to blow up buildings and sever heads do so in the name of Islam. As if the link between violence and religion was now proven it is not , the current occupant of the White House wishes to restrict the movement of certain Muslims into the US. Well, not quite the state itself, because the chance of becoming another orange-suited sacrifice deters most western journalists from travelling there. Many of us assume that people who have rallied to the black flag have done so for reasons other than religion: because it gives them a purpose, because they like to kill, because they perceive an injustice. While these motives might be part of what has persuaded people to join the battle, many Daesh fighters really do seem to believe they are part of an epoch-defining movement that will bring Islam its rightful prominence.
by Reza Aslan
Part of my job as a reporter covering the Middle East for the Guardian is to report on the atrocities the group carries out on a regular basis, from the murders and killings of journalists and activists, to the large-scale atrocities against Christians and minorities, the suicide bombings and the destruction of cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq. The group is in retreat, losing the territory on which it has built its fictional state. To defeat the group, we must understand its roots and how it came to exist, first inside an Iraq torn apart by the American invasion, and then in a Syria destroyed in a revolution turned civil war, and how disenfranchisement and the tyrannical rule of Arab despots plunged the region into the self-immolation it is currently experiencing. So here are a few books about ISIS that help shed some light on the birth and evolution of this nihilistic terror group. I believe we can defeat fear through understanding. A deeply-reported tale, chock full of fascinating details and unfolds like a true crime drama that traces the rise of the singular figure who created the first iteration of the group we know today as ISIS.
The caliphate has been crushed in Mosul, uprooted from the desert cities of central Iraq, evicted from the war-torn reaches of northern Libya. The cost of this defeat has been astounding: thousands, or maybe tens of thousands, dead; whole cities in ruin; polities so fractured they may take a generation to heal. This suggests deeper, more abiding questions: Where exactly did the Islamic State come from, and how can we ensure we never see it again? We now have memoirs from Syrians living under ISIS control and scholarly dissections of financial and administrative records recovered by US soldiers the Islamic State is full of punctilious bureaucrats, as was its forerunner Al Qaeda in Iraq. Unlike many predecessors, both authors speak Arabic, spent time in the Middle East, and interviewed countless Islamic fundamentalists.