Recommended books & sites | Discussion guide
Recommended books, sites & lectures

Here's a list of books on Islam, the Middle East, terrorism and American foreign policy, as recommended by: Rick Shenkman, editor of History News Network; Robert Burrowes, adjunct professor, Jackson School at the University of Washington; Mary St. Germain, head of the Near East section at UW libraries; and Rob Davila, Seattle Times international wire editor.
Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times book editor

Islam and Middle East politics

"Islam: A Short History" by Karen Armstrong (Modern Library, $19.95).
A helpful introduction to Islam by a world-renowned scholar on religious affairs.

"The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?" by John L. Esposito (Oxford University Press, $16.95) and "Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism or Reform," edited by Esposito, Robert Mazur and Sibusiso Nkomo (Lynne Rienner Publishers, $19.95).
Esposito's stance: Islam is "multifaceted and heterogeneous" and actual Islamic militants are "very small in number," Burrowes says.

"Palestine and the Arab Israeli Conflict" by Charles Smith (Palgrave,$39.95).
This book, now in its fourth edition, is considered a good basic overview.

"America and Political Islam: Clash of Cultures or Clash of Interests?" by Fawaz A. Gerges (Cambridge University Press, $18.95) and "The Middle East: Opposing Viewpoints" by Mary E. Williams (Greenhaven Press, $27.26).
St. Germain says the latter book is a good beginning for readers trying to familiarize themselves with Middle East issues.

"God Has Ninety-Nine Names" by Judith Miller (Touchstone, $15).
A "terrific survey of the rise of Islamic radicalism in several countries, including Sudan and the Mideast," says Davila, who also recommends books by Edward Said, the most articulate intellectual advocate for Palestine.

Afghanistan and the Taliban

Jay Weaver of the University Book Store's General Books Department says customers are requesting books on Afghanistan, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in record numbers (be patient, many titles are on back order). Here are three:

"Reaping the Whirlwind: The Taliban in Afghanistan" by Michael Griffin (Pluto Press, $27.50).
Griffin, an investigative journalist, tells the story of Afghanistan and the Taliban including the CIA's historic links with the sect.

"The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the Future of Terrorism" by Simon Reeve (Northeastern University Press, $26.95).
This book, written after the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, is by a former Sunday Times of London reporter. Published by a small university press, it's No. 8 on Amazon's best-seller list.

"Afghanistan's Endless War: State Failure, Regional Politics and the Rise of the Taliban," by Larry P. Goodson (University of Washington Press, cloth $35, paper, $22.50).
This book, just out this month, is by an associate professor of international studies at Bentley College in Waltham, Mass. It analyzes Afghanistan's history of the past 20 years and combines Taliban interviews and field research with analysis.

Foreign policy

"Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire" by Chalmers Johnson (Owl Books, $15).
Tells how past efforts to attack terrorism and Communism "blew up in our faces," says Shenkman.

"For the President's Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence and the American Presidency from Washington to Bush" by Christopher Andrews (HarperPerennial, $15).
A thorough history of U.S. intelligence activities, says Shenkman.

Internet sites
Islam Online 
Islam Q & A 
Afghan Info Center 
Institute for Afghan Studies

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