[October 16, 2016] The colder weather is certainly here in New York City with lows in the 40s and highs in the 60s. I’m glad it’s here because the Fall weather and the turning of the leaves to bright autumn colors is a distraction from the hype of the presidential elections … and it gives me motivation to read. Here are two recent books that I thought timely, each involving the origins of the Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL). Each of the authors attempt to provide to Westerners an understanding of the terror organization’s inspiration to destroy and how it is different from and similar to Islamic teachings.
The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State, William McCants Ph.D., 2015
What I like about William McCants’ book is that it takes us back to the rise of Islam to give those of us uneducated in the nuances of those teachings and sets the foundation for understanding ISIS today. I like the fact that it gives us the theme of Islamic apocalypticism, their vision of the future, and gets to heart of the thinking that underpins the terror this organization generates. McCants also discusses how ISIS has evolved over time in both its philosophy and its terror tactics. He provides suggestions on how to deal with it. Highly recommended.
Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, Joby Warrick, 2015
Joby Warrick’s book is a good companion to McCants’ book because Warrick has focused more on the past 20 years of ISIS’s development and on the key players within the terror organization. I found it interesting that through a number of strategic mistakes by both U.S. Presidents Bush and Obama, gave the opportunity for ISIS to grow and be so successful. Warrick, like McCants, writes that ISIS can be defeated but that it will require intensive cooperation at the national level and troops on the ground. Warrick also helps us understand the thinking of the key individuals within ISIS and shows us how a lack of intelligence information has hindered an international effort to destroy it. Highly recommended.
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