Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tariq Ali - "The Clash of Fundamentalisms"

I've read "The Clash of Fundamentalisms" by Tariq Ali over and over, and it really is (so far) the best single book I've found for anyone who wants the non-rocket-science overview of what is really going on in the Middle East.

It covers the origins of Islam and its spread, Jerusalem and the crusades, the Ottoman empire, the schism between Sunni and Shia Islam and the place of women within the religion, Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism, the formation of Israel, Zionism, Palestine, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Bali, and 9/11.

I cannot recommend this highly enough - it sounds like a lot of heavy subjects, but it's split into neat chapters on each one, well written, easy to read, and a good balance of little historic titbits, quotes and stories.

It's utterly illuminating, and a very honest and straightforward picture of the situation in all of these countries. Fascinating stuff.

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