The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, by Bernard Lewis

This timely book examines the historical roots of the resentments that dominate the Islamic world and that all too often have manifested themselves in acts of terrorism. Expanded from an award-winning New Yorker article, The Crisis of Islam looks at the theological origins of political Islam and takes the reader through the rise of militant Islam in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, examining the impact of radical Wahhabi proselytizing, and Saudi oil money, on the rest of the Islamic world. The Crisis of Islam ranges widely across 13 centuries of history, but in particular it charts the key events of the 20th century leading up to the violent confrontations of today: the creation of the state of Israel, the Cold War, the Iranian revolution, the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the Gulf War, and 9/11. While hostility toward the West has a long and varied history in the lands of Islam, its current concentration on America is new. So too is the cult of the suicide bomber. Brilliantly disentangling the crosscurrents of Middle Eastern history from the rhetoric of its manipulators, author Bernard Lewis helps the reader understand the increasingly dogmatic rejection of modernity by many in the Muslim world in favor of a return to a sacred past. The Crisis of Islam is essential reading for anyone who wants to know what Osama bin Laden represents and why his murderous message resonates so widely in the Islamic world.

For getting into the mind of the radical Islamist, for achieving a greater cultural understanding of an insidious and relentless foe, this concise, eye-opening book is a must-read in the post-9/11 world.