Review: Why Israel Can’t Wait: The Coming War Between Israel and Iran

Why Israel Can’t Wait: The Coming War Between Israel and Iran by Jerome R. Corsi

MY RATING: 2/5 Stars

FTC NOTICE: Purchased Book.

REVIEW: I always admired people who supported Israel, and I believed that Dr. Jerome R. Corsi meant well when he wrote, “Why Israel Can’t Wait: The Coming War Between Israel and Iran.” His intentions were certainly as praise-worthy as his high level of formal education (PhD.), extensive work experience and vast knowledge. However, this piece did not sufficiently achieve his stated goals; the first of which began with addressing the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Prior to the June 12 (2009) election, Iran expert Michael Ledeen of the “Foundation for the Defense of Democracies” claimed Mousavi was not a revolutionary but rather “a leader who has been made into a revolutionary by a movement that grew up around him” (14).  “But the impression in the United States that Mousavi was a reformist is entirely wrong” (14)..the real revolutionary is Mousavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, and the real question is why Ayatollah Khamenei allowed her to be positioned that way in the 2009 presidential election” (14). This was an excellent question, one which led specifically to the “regime change” discussion, seemingly regardless of who won the election.

However, during Iran’s 2009 post-election protests, Obama possibly missed an opportunity for regime change, according to Dr. Corsi. My issue with that specific point rested in the fact that the United States conducted a coup d’état in the 1950s with its overthrow of Iran’s democratically-elected Mohammad Mossaddeq, which restored Mohammed Reza Pahlavi to his thrown. (“Patriot of Persia: Mohammad Mossadegh and a Tragic Anglo-American Coup” by Christopher De Bellaigue served as a biographical account of the aging Prime Minister and devout oil nationalist, though its not my favorite account). The regime change gave the appearances that the over-throw worked. Some books that covered this topic in greater detail included: “All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror” by Stephen Kinzer; “Blood & Oil: A Prince’s Memoir of Iran, From the Shah to the Ayatollah” by Manucher Farmanfarmaian (a Qajar prince) and Roxane Farmanfarmaian, PhD.; “The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran” by Andrew Scott Cooper, PhD.; and, “The Shah” by Abbas Milani, PhD. (Research Fellow at Hoover Institution (as of this writing) and whose brother served as prime minister to the last Shah and was later assassinated by Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime).

The Shah’s status, however, became temporary, and its long-run consequences spread themselves throughout the globe with particular vitriol pointed toward the United States of America (who conducted the operation as a special favor to one of its historically favorite allies: the British). Corsi seemed to encourage another regime change, as well as additional America-driven modifications to the region, as a solution to a wide range of problems for the USA and Israel with the goal of returning stability to the greater Middle East. Central themes existed as the following:

*Iran’s 2009 post-election protests.
*Regime change dynamics.
*Nuclear weaponization: “A credible nuclear program must have three components: (1) weapons-grade enriched uranium/plutonium source; (2) Medium/Long-range missile system capable of delivering a nuclear weapons payload reliably; and, (3) technology to weaponize into a miniaturized warhead capable of being delivery (29).”
*Regional stability and hegemonic interests.
*Iran and Hamas in the Palestinian Authority.
*Arab-Israeli conflict core issues: “Netanyahu strongly disputed the contention that territory was at the start of the heart of the conflict with the Palestinians” (69).

I thought that the Arab-Israeli conflict could not simply be resolved with border issues being quelled nor re-negotiated and agreed upon by the parties as well.  in fact, Netanyahu’s statement reminded me that the root cause of the conflict was not about borders at all anyway; much of this dispute originated during the Palestine Mandate era and the trouble caused by Yasser Arafat’s uncle, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, (then “The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem”). He willingly and excitedly served as Hitler’s proxy to export Europe’s Holocaust to the Palestine Mandate making a major component of the original conflict about RACISM, RACISM, RACISM not land.  “Icon of Evil: Hitler’s Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam by Rabbi David G. Dalin adeptly covered this history, and I repeatedly recommended this book to encourage others to view the history of “The Conflict” with either more knowledge or a different perspective than that of a land-grab. As far as said conflict goes, until the parties can agree that their negotiations for specific sessions or summits are on a focused few (ideally one at a time) topics, then no positive movement toward peace can truly be achieved.

While Dr. Corsi did an excellent job of detailing why the Arab-Israeli Conflict could not be simply resolved with the resolution of land boundaries, it seemed that the rest of the book was slammed together and utilized hyperbole. He shared some interesting information and uncommonly-known revelations; but, the work did not really contain anything new (even for its publication time). I wished that the author had shared greater context and perspective.  The piece contained choppiness in its going back-and-forth while trying to put the reader in a constant panic with sweeping generalizations. I felt greatly disappointed that the closing statement under the subchapter name (which mimicked the book’s title) “Why Israel Can’t Wait” led to nothing more than two mini-paragrphs, each containing two sentences. Its over-simplicity revealed incoherence, causing the overall product to present itself as nothing more than than an rushed-to-publish “Op-Ed” in lieu of a quality piece of literature that the author historically-supported reputation provided.

Quote: The Terrorist Next Door–How the Government is Deceiving you About the Islamic Threat

The Terrorist Next Door: How the Government is Deceiving you About the Islamic Threat by Erick Stakelbeck

FTC NOTICE: Purchased Book

Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat identified a four-step process that leads an individual or group to accept jihadist ideology and to act on it:

*Pre-radicalization: The subject is searching for something else in their life and comes into contact with radicalization agents.

*Identification: The individual begins to adopt various changes of dress, mannerisms and lifestyle in accordance with adopting a new set of beliefs.

*Indoctrination: Now involved with a new set of associates, they are subjected to intense ideological training that reinforces jihadist narratives and justifications for violence.

*Jihadization: The individual agrees that violence is necessary for the “defense” of Islam, and is recruited to engage in violent acts.

The report’s authors stress that this process can happen over long periods of time, or can occur rather quickly” (188).

Review: Princes of Darkness: The Saudi Assault on the West

Princes of Darkness: The Saudi Assault on the West by Laurent Murawiec

MY RATING: 3/5 Stars

FTC NOTICE: Library Book

MOVIE TRAILER: Bhutto

REVIEW: “Let us admit…that the title “prince” is purely formal. Even if one were to respect the right of illiterate and course nomads to call their chiefs princes–we have no reason to be gratuitously discourteous–the demographic explosion of the Al-Saud family has created an endless supply of pseudo-princes. It even seems impossible to count this sub-species, which multiplies uncontrollably. Are there three or eight thousand Saudi “princes”? No one knows. If necessary, it was agreed–politeness to foreigners–to call the dozen bearded men in jellabas “princes.” But five or eight thousand? Inflation, as it is well known, devalues currency. The inflation of princes has devalued the title. Each prince thus bears the title of only one five-thousandth of a prince, so that at diplomatic receptions, the introduction might go: “Royal Highness the five-thousandth of a Prince Bandar,” which would be closer to reality” (229).

Yet, Laurent Murawiec, author of “Princes of Darkness: The Saudi Assault on the West,” wrote a book’s worth of “reasons to be gratuitously discourteous” (229), in his efforts to expose the everything he wanted readers to know about the Saudi Royal Family, he also freely injected caustic language. The author contended that Saudi oil came to life as a result of simply happening to inhabit the land under which the petrol sources rested. He wanted to establish that this royal family was nothing more than a self-propagating orgy of princes and their several wives to create future generations in order to maintain their power. “Saudi Arabia, for its part, modernized nothing. It was in 1957 – – and not in the seventh century – – that King Saud [SIC] issued and edict forbidding women to drive. In the name of Islam, the Saudi-Wahhabi regime has worsened the position of women. Sequestration inside the walls of home, the requirement to wear and an abaya showing only the eyes, and illiteracy and the virtual impossibility of exercising a profession, the prohibition of pursuing education abroad” (14-15), etc. Additional information included the author’s suggestion that the US invasion of Iraq existed as favor to Saudis…under threat of (Iran’s) Shia being able to obtain Iraqi oil reserves and out-power “The Kingdom.” He also delved into the formation of OPEC and OAPEC, asserting themselves as nothing more than political oil cartels, regardless of the fact that that the producing countries simply wanted control over what came from their territories. “Oil, everything comes down to oil” (179). Murawiec clearly had a problem with everybody and everything pertaining to the Saudi Royal Family, defining them as nothing more than Bedouin tribal thieves utilizing their religion as a weapon.

Despite the author’s frequently injected opinions that tended to distract from important historical facts, I enjoyed learning more about the Saudis and their relationship with Pakistan. This alliance may also have been the reason why Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was prohibited from obtaining “The Bomb.” I found this to be particularly interesting because, after seeing the film “Bhutto,” I wondered why Dr. Henry Kissinger adamantly emphasized to Bhutto that he would regret developing nuclear weaponry. After all, the USA developed “The Bomb,” then the USSR did the same thing. China then sensed it needed nuclear weapons to protect itself from the Russians. India felt threatened and started testing its “Bomb;” therefore, it appeared only rational that Pakistan would develop equal-caliber capabilities to protect itself from India. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was denied this power. General Zia-ul-Haq became Bhutto’s Chief of Staff (most likely at the request of the USA or Saudi Arabia), and then this man seized power via military coup…and got “The Bomb” anyway.

Mr. Murawiec did not go into all of that detail with Pakistan, because his book was about exposing the Saudi Royal Family’s power matrix. Pakistan played a somewhat minute role (in the context of their total power-base). The author explained how Pakistan’s intelligence arm, the ISI, “pulled the wool over the CIA’s eyes, manipulated American policy for its benefit, and came out on top” (77), thereby orchestrating the election(s) of Benazir Bhutto as part of a façade to appease the Western world.

While this review did not share nearly as much as what one can read and learn about in “Princes of Darkness: The Saudi Assault on the West,” my goal was to communicate that the author demonstrated compelling writing skills and strong subject matter knowledge, yet he faltered in maintaining a modicum of professionalism that one would expect from a person with his impressive credentials. I failed to appreciate when he repeatedly injected vitriolic statements such as the following: “We have seen the way in which Saudi Arabia asserted control over Pakistan, or, if you like, the Wahhabi acid bath into which Saudi influence plunged Pakistan” (107). Comments such as this one devalued the crucial information that he wanted exposed; as such, the book’s star rating was reduced.

Review: Unveiled Threat: A Personal Experience of Funamentalist Islam and the Roots of Terrorism

cvr_unveiled-threat-a-personal-experience-of-funamentalist-islam-and-the-roots-of-terrorism-by-janet-tavakoliUnveiled Threat: A Personal Experience of Funamentalist Islam and the Roots of Terrorism by Janet Tavakoli

MY RATING: 4/5 Stars

FTC NOTICE: Free Review Copy from Author (in exchange for an honest review)

REVIEW: Do not allow the small size of this book fool you into believing that it is not big on content. This is the first piece I have read by Janet Tavakoli, MBA, who utilized this work as a delivery vehicle to share her experiences when she found herself suddenly trapped in the middle of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. In one day she went from being an Iranian man’s, American-born, wife to becoming his property under that nation’s newest laws. “Unveiled Threat: A Personal Experience of Fundamentalist Islam and the Roots of Terrorism” delved into the author’s experiences, connected religious institutions to terrorism, and expounded upon the issues that developed due to the creation of a politically-correct world that began producing a global, fundamentalist, terrorist threat to the United States of America (USA).

Unveiled Threat” began with a focus on Iran and touched on tangentially-related topics in other countries due to their effect on the USA. Prevailing themes included the following:
1. “Poor men want to be rich” (1)
2. Political hypocrisy.
3. Hypocritical use of chador.
4. “Stalkers for Islam” (43)
5. Honor killings.
6. Female genital mutilation (FGM).
7. Islamic rule.
8. Muslim apologetics.
9. Sex abuse scandals.
10. Freedom of artistic expression and speech.

Ms. Tavakoli gave one example that specifically dealt with Muslim outrage pertaining to freedom of artistic expression/speech; I felt that it lacked sufficient context, causing me to be in disagreement with her. The story’s lack of details pertained to the year 2006, when a Pakistani cleric issued a death fatwa on a cartoonist who drew satirical images of Mohammad. I did not find their context to be fatwa-worthy nor good cause for riots. The situation created by the editors appeared repulsive and malicious. I associated this example with the Charlie Hebdo incident, though it was not clearly defined in the book.

The incident involved artistic representations of tied-up Muslims being raped by dogs (as had reportedly occurred to incarcerated people of the same faith). Dogs were utilized because due to their consideration as being the most disliked, lowly creatures in Islam. Other highly-inappropriate, disgusting, and insensitive illustrations went to print. I could not begin to imagine the uproar that would take place in a Westernized nation if, in the same context, there was a contest to draw a likenesses of God, Jesus Christ, or any other holy icon, in order for them to be printed amongst cartoons of children being raped by religious or other authority figures. In this situation, described as artistic expression and/or freedom of speech, moral and philosophical boundaries melted.

Unveiled Threat made for a compelling read that, at its core, focused on personal boundaries being legally melted by changing societal norms. This book contained elements of stories shared by Nonie Darwish, in her book titled, “Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror.” Plus, Ayaan Hirsi Ali stressed similar warnings in the three pieces I have read of hers: 1.) Nomad–From from Islam to America: a Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations; 2.) Infidel; and, 3.) The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam.

Tavakoli’s book made me hold my breath quite a bit. At times I felt my eyes racing from one sentence to the next because of the energy that the author’s writing style created. The reading enjoyment factor caused the book to easily earn five stars; but, what I thought were minor historical discrepancies did cause me to reduce the work’s overall rating by that of one star. These minute differences in no way diminished the author’s experiences nor intensity of the situations covered in the piece. The most important factual fabric of this book maintained its integrity.

Review: United States of Jihad: Americans Fighting for Radical Islam–Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists–From Al-Qaeda to ISIS

cvr_united-states-of-jihad-americans-fighting-for-radical-islam-from-al-qaeda-to-isis-by-peter-bergenUnited States of Jihad: Americans Fighting for Radical Islam–Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists–From Al-Qaeda to ISIS by Peter Bergen

MY RATING: 5/5 Stars

FTC NOTICE: Purchased Book

REVIEW: Forget everything you think you know about radical Islam, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, et. al. Close your eyes and pretend for just a moment that you have never seen pictures of radicalized Islamic terrorists and the results of their destructive events. Now open your eyes, and read Peter Bergen’s book, “United States of Jihad: Americans Fighting for Radical Islam–Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists–From Al-Qaeda to ISIS;” and, prepare to have your mind blown. Not literally blown!!! I’m not a terrorist, and neither is the author; but, I’ve obviously got some explaining to do.

My husband was on a business trip in the Washington, D.C. Metro area. Each time he does this, he tries to stop by a place that is special to us: Coco Sala Restaurant and Chocolate Boutique. What what does chocolate have to do with “United States of Jihad?” One day he arrived before the chocolate boutique opened; so he walked to one of my other favorite places, “The International Spy Museum” and entered its bookstore. From there he called me and said, “Honey, have you read, “X” where “X” became a list of books that he was plucking from the shelves and hoping to bring home to me. How incredibly thoughtful and kind of him! When he mentioned, “United States of Jihad,” I became excited…and that’s how he knew to bring it home for me.
cvr_united-states-of-jihad_withcoversticker_intlspymuseum_signedcopy-by-peter-bergen cvr_united-states-of-jihad_insidecoverpg_signed-by-peter-bergenWhen I opened the museum store’s goody bag, I was delighted that my husband chose a hardcover copy of the book. It had a sticker on the upper corner, but all I noticed was “SPY” and thanked my husband with a big hug and a kiss. Then he said, “And its autographed, too.”  I took another look, saw the author’s signature, and couldn’t stop smiling.  My husband wanted to do something so special for me, and I could not hug him enough.  His night definitely had a happier ending than it did for people in Bergen’s work!  This book became one more addition to several works written by terrorism expert Peter Bergen, who has a long list of accomplishments to his name (Learn more by visiting his website: PeterBergen.com). His other books to-date include the following:

*Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden–from 9/11 to Abbottabad
*The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda
*Drone Wars: Transforming Conflict, Law, and Policy
*The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of Al-Qaeda’s Leader
*Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden
*Talibanistan

While I did not read this book while sitting in a place (real or imaginary) called “Talibanistan,” I was able to absorb the contents while resting in the comfort of my seemingly-safe home, in the Post-9/11 environment, of the United States of America. “Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, 330 people in the United States have been charged with some kind of jihadist terrorist crime ranging in seriousness from murder to sending small sums of money to a terrorist group.  An astonishing four out of five of them are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.  Moreover, more than one hundred American citizens or residents have been charged after traveling overseas to join a terrorist group, and further thirty-nine were arrested in the States while planning to do so” (10). In its simplest terms, this is a form of treason:  to join a group or accept an ideology whose goal is to kill Americans.  This book is an attempt to discern why these Americans made that choice, how U.S. institutions and the Muslim community in the United States have responded, and how a threat of terrorism on American soil has changed us” (10–11).

They are ordinary Americans” (15)…just like me…and my parents…and my children. Our children–America’s children! Every parent can attest to the feeling that our children are always our children until the day we die. Imagine the horror when the immigrated parents were so proud to be in this country and would not intentionally do anything to harm it…only to get a knock on the door or a special phone call from law enforcement (of any type). The kind you don’t want knocking at your door unless its to say they moved in next door and wanted to know if you had a cup of sugar.

But, this story had no sugary sweetness to it; no additives, no preservatives, no artificial anything. It was all truth that left me with quite a bit to think about post-read. Bergen shared interesting investigative elements about “America’s homegrown terrorists:”

*The religious conversion process and steps to achieving extremism.
*Terrorist organization recruitment efforts: targeted marketing with well-understood ideal candidate profiles that include demographics and psychographics.
*Islamist terrorism and its “relationship to the religion of Islam” (27).
*How political correctness contributed to ignoring or insufficiently investigating suspected radicals.
*Challenges in knowing when and how to legally acquire and use data.
*”The key role that families and communities played in preventing violent extremism was also overlooked in the effort to justify more exotic counterterrorism measures” (218).
*Entrapment and false arrests of non-jihadists to improve performance reporting.

United States of Jihad” proved itself to be an excellent, highly-recommendable read. Peter Bergen delivered on every one of his promises to the reader. This book challenged and overhauled the American belief system of what comprised a jihadist. The author’s writing style was clear, cohesive, and compelling…from start to finish, easily earning it a five-star rating.

Review: Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror

cvr_now-they-call-me-infidel-why-i-renounced-jihad-for-america-israel-and-the-war-on-terrorNow They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror, by Nonie Darwish

MY RATING: 4/5 Stars

FTC NOTICE: Library Book

REVIEW: The beginning of this review yields to a much favorable position as it progresses. “Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror” ends much better than it starts, and it is the first book for which I considered punctuation, paragraph transitions, and chapter allocations to be a signification part of a review. It is not enjoyable to have to do a drill-down on how a book is edited, but it is the poor editing of this book that originally lowered my rating of the text. Had it not been for the subject matter combined with both the intent and voice of the author, this book would have received a one-star rating and placed on my “discards” shelf. It is with the aforementioned in mind that I wish to touch on the most blatant things that have been considered in my review.

Mis-use (or lack thereof in some cases) of punctuation made this book a challenging read…so difficult, in fact, that I opted to see which company published it. The publisher was Penguin Books, and one would expect a higher caliber editing job from such a well-established entity. Several sentences had to be re-read, and I imagined punctuation in other parts of them in order to understand what the author wished to convey. It was amazing how significantly a comma changed the meaning of a sentence! Flow of ideas from one paragraph to another consistently lacked cohesion, making it choppy and challenging to follow a storyline. Ideas that clearly belonged in separate chapters created pause for the reader because I didn’t always understand their placement within the context of a specific part of Nonie Darwish’s story.

It was Ms. Darwish’s voice and intent that pushed me to read further. The disjointed details of early parts of the book finally came together enough to understand her over-arching theme: radical Islam is born overseas and is becoming homegrown in the USA; these people are very determined and will do anything to destroy anyone/anything that they consider to be of infidel nature. The author’s history, as well as that of her native Egypt, were detailed so that the reader could understand and appreciate Darwish’s political, humanitarian, and moral positions. She emphasized how thankful she was to have become an American and that her sentiment was an atypical one. People she once knew as moderate Muslims had become radicals once they arrived in America. The author explained that it was not unusual to find professional students (ie: a student of 12 years without a degree) that had become leaders of Muslim Student Associations and were backed by Saudi oil money to stay on college campuses; and, they were (are) using the universities as conversion centers for jihadism.

The author expressed a deep amount of respect for people of other nationalities, cultures, and faiths and made it clear that radical Islam demonstrates no tolerance nor respect for anything outside of itself and very little variation within its religion. The reading of “Now They Call Me Infidel” definitely required persistence. What pushed the rating of this book up to a 4-star one was the fact that the author made me want to learn more about the topics she addressed. If you put down this book because you found it unreadable, I ask that you consider making another attempt at reading it; once you are well into the text, everything eventually makes sense. It offers a solid education that cannot be ignored.

Book Giveaway (CLOSED): Jihad Academy: The Rise of Islamic State

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Review: Jihad Academy: The Rise of Islamic State

cvr_jihad-academy_the-rise-of-islamic-state-by-nicolas-heninJihad Academy: The Rise of Islamic State, by Nicolas Hénin, Martin Makinson (Translation)

MY RATING: 3/5 Stars

FTC NOTICE: Purchased Book

REVIEW: (Spoiler Alert) I admit it—I judged this book by its cover! Its title “Jihad Academy” in bold, all capital letters piqued my interest. The top section of the front cover read, “A former ISIS hostage and veteran Middle East journalist explores misperceptions of Islamic State and their consequences.” This work’s synopsis compelled me to want to read it, and my local library system did not have it at the time; but, I was hooked, so I purchased it.

Jihad Academy: The Rise of Islamic State,” by Nicolas Hénin (a freelance journalist known for reporting from the Middle East), arrived with great anticipation; so, I immediately studied the back cover and became even more “hooked” by the piece. I moved it closer to the front of my bookcase’s “to read” line. Some statements on the back cover encouraged the heightened reading priority: “He witnessed the events leading to the rise of Islamic State, and in June 2013, he was himself captured by ISIS and spent ten months in captivity with James Foley and others who were beheaded soon after Hénin was released. Those barbarities, and the first strikes against Islamic State, prompted Hénin to present in “Jihad Academy” what he knows IS to be, in contrast to the misperceptions he sees perpetuated on an ongoing basis” (back cover).

My expectations were set (with continued building excitement); then, I began reading and immediately identified an unadvertised misperception. The first page (and sentence) of the “Forward” read as follows: The reader may be surprised not to discover in the following pages the story of my captivity. Of course, I could have written the usual book describing my capture by masked Islamic State militants in a street of Raqqa, Syria, on 22June2013…I could have recounted the boredom, the fear and the suffering during the months I was deprived of my freedom, and finally my release in April 2014, after the negotiation conducted by my government. But the truth of the matter is that during these months…”(vii) and so on. Please allow me to repeat some key words: “IS…misperceptions…surprised not to discover…the story of my captivity” (vii).

It was a surprise to immediately feel a little betrayed and be put into a position to ponder whether or not to continue reading “Jihad Academy”. I opted to read it and found that Hénin, to a certain extent, vindicated himself. He stated “history is cruel; it is more likely to remember the names of the villains than the heroes. Our security fixation has led us to make shameful compromises” (138). The entire book supported those statements and provided solid context, causing the reader to want to learn more about the conflict(s). The author educated the reader as to how Islamic State inadvertently developed as a by-product of the American invasion of Iraq, why our understanding of Islamic State’s organization became flawed, who became ISIS’ direct and indirect supporters, which groups utilized secularism, tribalism and sectarianism, and what needed to be done to increase knowledge of human rights abuses and to get the region stabilized.

While I originally felt a little bit betrayed by the book’s cover and synopsis because I expected to read about Nicolas Hénin’s ordeal as an ISIS hostage as a component of the overall story, the reality was that “Jihad Academy” did reveal some misperception and very important information. While the author intended for those misperceptions be be specific to IS, I found that he revealed more to me about how Syria’s current regime operated counter to what one would think. I appreciated his strong positions against human rights violations combined with his eagerness to increase global awareness of them. The author demonstrated a deep-level, multi-faceted knowledge of the region and the subject matter conflict while communicating in an easy-to-read, conversational manner.

Review: A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State

cvr_a-road-unforeseen_women-fight-the-islamic-stateA Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State, by Meredith Tax

MY RATING: 5/5 Stars

FTC NOTICE: Free Review Copy from Library Thing Early Reviewers Program (in exchange for an honest review)

REVIEW: “The year 1989 is notable for a great worldwide upsurge of fundamentalism” (25). “A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State,” by Meredith Tax, details an internationally-political and economically-driven set of events, that have culminated in a religious, cultural, gender-based situation allowing for the formation of “the patriarchal belt” (24). Activities increased for the following reasons, according to the author: “removal of Soviet state control, causing of nationalist and religious identity movements; and, globalization with its capitalist forms of organization and notions of individual liberty–wrongly defined as Western–penetrated to the most remote areas, bringing their values and media to threaten traditional male elites, who reacted violently” (25). Factors that contributed since that time involved “destabilization of the region, seductions of Western media and the freedom offered by the Internet, and success of the global woman’s movement. Its legal achievements peaked at UN conferences in the early nineties, setting off alarm bells and traditionalist enclaves from the Vatican to Saudi Arabia” (25-26).

The alarm bells rang decades after a seemingly infinite series of events sparked when the Sykes-Picot Treaty and other pacts carved up Kurdistan amongst the winning, dominant world powers. This book detailed Kurdistan’s history and the United States’ rush to fill a gap as soon as the Cold War ended…selectively continuing to fight communism by aligning with Turkey, utilizing Israel as America’s proxy and conveniently finding the PKK/Kurds as being equal to the same communists previously fought, while ignoring differentiating aspects.

Meredith Tax adeptly presented, and compelling supported, her positions in what I viewed as the following themes:
*Revolutionary Strategies: ISIS, ISIL, Daesh
*Ethnic Identity and Genocide
*Tribalism and Sultanism
*Totalitarian Theocracy
*Globalization
*Oil Politics
*UN Sanctions: Challenges and Manipulations
*Systemic Violence and Homicides Against Women
*Hyperbolic Focus on Female Virginity
*Conflict Zone Governments: Big Government vs Local Councils vs Small Communes
*Jihadist Heavenly Rewards Program: A Sliding Scale
*Manipulation of Western Audiences
*Democratization of Iraq: A New Radical-Islamic, Anti-Female State
*Recruitment Efforts and Profiling

The reader must wonder if the aforementioned themes developed because the Kurds lived in an area resting on oil. “Iraqi Kurdistan has huge oil and gas reserves, as many as 55 billion barrels of oil, a quarter of the reserves in the whole country. Thirty-nine different oil companies from nineteen countries moved in” (98). It looked like a power-grab, regardless of the multi-faceted costs to the tribes and overall states; and, without regard to its ripple effect worldwide.

A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State,” by Meredith Tax, revealed itself to be a surprisingly-thorough, well-organized and compelling read. It should be recognized as a primer on Kurdistan and Daesh, while highlighting the challenges and accomplishments of a unique group of females that continued to fight against an internationally-misunderstood conflict with escalating, global implications. The book’s “Glossary of Organizational Names” (13), map, and photos greatly contributed to ease of reading and understanding of its contents, easily garnering the compendium a five-star rating and a spot on my “Favorites” list.