I have recently been reading a book worthy of a short review: ISIS: Inside The Army Of Terror by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan. It is not exactly a gripping read, because it is very detailed and couched in a kind of journalese that doesn’t really allow a reader to wander off. In other words it makes certain demands of its readers that mean, in my case, that I have to keep putting it down. But in most other ways it is a brilliant book, because it tackles head-on all the questions a general reader might want to have answered about ISIS – where did it come from, why has it been successful, how does it work, who joins it and why etc.
The level of detail and knowledge it displays is impressive, and I would certainly use it as a reference for any serious writing I might want to do about ISIS. Anyone who is interested in the ISIS phenomenon, and especially anyone seriously concerned that it is about to conquer the world, should read this book. It sets out very thoroughly how ISIS is a local phenomenon, partly related to Islam but also very heavily connected to the political, diplomatic. sectarian and criminal history of the modern Middle East.
It also forcefully brought home to me how Islamic societies are socially very stable but politically very fragile, which means that the disruption both caused and exacerbated by the intrusion of an ISIS-style organisation can create such mayhem. Politics in Islamic cultures is often very closely related to coercion; the triumph of the West, in one way, is that Western societies can be politically stable without recourse to either violence, or notions of God.