Reading up on Islam

The enormity of the events of September 11 sparked unprecedented demand for books on Islam and the Middle East. For a while in fall 2001, books about Islam, Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan made bestseller lists, as readers played catch-up by devouring university or specialty press titles by scholarly and policy experts. Books by journalists with experience in the varied cultures of the Muslim world have also offered compelling looks inside parts of the world unknown to most Americans.

Naturally, some of the recent books are more worth reading than others. Some are particularly heavy with agenda-setting in the current volatile political context; some are simply fortunate enough to feature “Taliban” in the title or an eye-catching photo of Osama bin Laden on the cover.


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