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Children of Jihad: A Young American's Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  431 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
Defying foreign government orders and interviewing terrorists face to face, a young American tours hostile lands to learn about Middle Eastern youth—and uncovers a subculture that defies every stereotype.

Classrooms were never sufficient for Jared Cohen; he wanted to learn about global affairs by witnessing them firsthand. During his undergraduate years Cohen travelled ex
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 25th 2007 by Gotham (first published September 1st 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 905)
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Joyce Lionarons
Jun 15, 2008 Joyce Lionarons rated it did not like it
Naive young American learns that not all Middle-Easterners think alike. Truly an awful book.
Apr 22, 2009 Billy rated it did not like it
This book was intriguing at first, but became essentially annoying, perhaps disgusting. It goes like this. A young guy, Stanford grad, now working in the State Department goes to the Middle East to get a first hand feel for what’s going on. He spends time mainly in Iran and Lebanon, more of it in Lebanon. His goal is to get to know Muslim youth, and see where they are coming from. It seemed like it was going to be great. Hanging out with Hezbollah activists, hearing their views on key issues, an ...more
Dec 08, 2009 Trish rated it really liked it
Jared Cohen was young when he wrote this, and so can be forgiven some of his more obnoxious asides, but I grew to appreciate his relentless inquisitiveness on political issues, and to appreciate the almost verbatim conversations. Obviously he took the time to make notes shortly after his encounters, so as to remember clearly. I believe the transcriptions are largely true, judging from the ordinariness of most of the responses to his questions. I came to appreciate his eye, as he grew in knowledg ...more
Apr 15, 2010 Kyledrahl rated it really liked it
In Jared Cohen’s “Children of Jihad,” Cohen goes out on an adventure to the Middle East in order to delve into the political and eventually social networks of the region. At the time of writing this book, Jared Cohen had recently graduated from Stanford and Oxford and was trying to find a way to better research the Middle East. His book is for people who want to learn more about the Middle East Government and it’s youth. His journey throughout the Middle East was amusing for me to read through. ...more
Feb 04, 2012 Liz rated it really liked it
While I read this book as an assignment for a geography class, I found it interesting and well-written as well as eye-opening. I tend to take the news at face value rather than assume that there is some great conspiracy to keep us on the dark. This book, however, has made me question how the middle east is presented to Americans. Perhaps the news hasn't been hijacked by the government, but how else does one explain the great divide between the observations made in this book and the portrayal of ...more
Apr 10, 2009 Davida rated it really liked it
Not nearly as smart or articulate as Rory Stewart, a young man who also writes about and experiences the Middle East as an outsider, Jared Cohen has some interesting adventures in Lebanon, Iran, Syria, and even Iraq. If only he were a better writer and had had a better editor! He comes off as a girl-crazy young dude, who has the luck to be experiencing life in the Middle East first-hand as a Jewish American. He's brave and eager to learn, but he also seems like he has a lot more learning and gro ...more
Nov 01, 2008 Ray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unusual look at life and young adults in the Middle East, written by a twenty-something year old american Jew. The auther shares his experiences travelling and meeting with students and young Muslim men and women from Lebanon, Iran, Syria, and Iraq in 2004. Your assumption might be that a young American, traveling alone in the post 9/11 middle east would have an extremely tough time finding ANYONE to talk to him, especially since he didn't hide his jewish heritage. No one would be surprising ...more
Nov 06, 2007 Andrea rated it did not like it
This is the worst book I've read since, well, since grad school. The only interesting thing about it is the focus on youth, but oops! He fucks it up. He's a Rhodes scholar, so I hope this was really written by a ghostwriter.
Robert Dunlap
Jan 21, 2015 Robert Dunlap rated it liked it
Fascinating look, good sophistication, credit is due Jared Cohen just for having the guts to go again, and again, and again. He was not to be denied his research. Hear, hear.

Well worth the read. In fact, since we as a nation choose to involve ourselves over and over in the Middle East, it would be wise to understand the difference between Maronite, Druze, Sunni, Shia, and the interplay between religion, race, and culture. That interplay changes across every border.

It reminded me of Robert Baer'
Mareike Trance
Dec 15, 2014 Mareike Trance rated it did not like it
Despite it's horrible title, the description of the book promised an interesting read. Unfortunately, the book is mostly about the author showing off his various adventures in the world. Although he tries to escape common stereotypes and emphasizes how youth in the Middle East do not think alike, he yet does not manage to think outside of the box and is caught up in western stereotypes. Fun, yet annoying read! Should not be taken too seriously!
Justin Tapp
Mar 19, 2016 Justin Tapp rated it really liked it
I previously had no idea who Jared Cohen was, but I found this book while prepping to work through a series of books on Islam, including ones looking at modern conflict and reform. Cohen's adventure in this book eventually led him to great success at the State Department and now at Google. There are some events in this book that I think are unbelievable-- how a person "just happens" to end up in Mosul in the middle of a war zone, avoids detention in Iran, and more tight spots that it seems a Jew ...more
Aug 10, 2013 Alan rated it it was ok
Jared Cohen achieves what he sets out to do with this book: to show us a facet of the Middle East that is seldom portrayed in mainstream media. This is the books greatest strength and though Mr. Cohen's account is honest and bold, it comes across as greatly opinionated and reads like a the-natives-are-just-like-us travelogue. The author's intentions seem good, but the book seems to indicate that the sexual practices and general Americanization of the Arab world represents a road to 'liberty'.

Apr 20, 2016 Mom rated it did not like it
What a disappointing book. Some of the major problems: 1) the egotistical author (He went to Stanford and Oxford! He was a Rhodes Scholar! He is very brave and took many risks!) 2) the extreme pro-Israeli bias (I realize that he is Jewish, but if he intended to write about all the youth of the Middle East, he should have found a way to approach them without bias.) 3) the book is poorly written and edited ( I can't count the number of times he was "shocked" -- as in, "I was shocked by the number ...more
Feb 15, 2010 Suri rated it it was amazing
A 'scratch the surface' effort to understand the struggle/conflict. Underneath it all- we all need the same things- a safe place to live, a government that cares about its people, the ability to earn a living, individual freedom... basic human rights...

We could try to understand, but the power of the games lies on the world leaders---unfortunately, most of them are too engrossed with power and greed.
Aug 31, 2008 Terry rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended
This is a very insightful book about the middle east through the eyes of a very insightful young Jewish American. His interaction with the youth of Islam makes for a fascinating read. Effective Western leadership will capitalize on the widespread dissatisfaction with the totalitarian regimes that control most of the middle east.

It's an excellent read.
May 28, 2014 Xavier rated it it was amazing
Experience speaks!

Jared has shared his experience well through his book, “The Children of Jihad”. After reading this book, I felt like going there for real and meet those people in Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq. The book gives a real life account of those living there, much different from what I learned in TV and newspapers.

I am sure Jared's past experience in Africa must have helped him in finding the right people and places there. But I think, from Jared’s book, any one can experience a nice t
May 31, 2014 Cyberpope rated it it was amazing
If you've ever suspected the newsmedia are skewed in their portrayal of the Arab-Muslim Middle East, this book will help; Jared Cohen is a Jewish American who traveled throughout Iran, Lebanon, Syria, & Iraq, to taljk to under-30s about what THEY really think, feel, & believe.

You WILL be amazed! I certainly was!

Follow Jared on his sometime harrowing journey as a Jew & an American in a region that we are told hates Jews & Americans! 2 weeks after he was in Syria another American j
Hobotraveler85 Mataushek
There was allot of good insight to the Middle East. This book will make you look at things in a different light.
I love that he gave these kids a voice. It is so easy to think of all of them as terrorists. It is much harder to remember that they are human and want happiness like all the rest of us. It is a good reminder to be so thankful for our Declaration of Independence, and for the line that says "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness ...more
Aug 06, 2012 Adrianna rated it it was ok
This book is a good introduction to the complicated political and religious authorities of some of the most prominent Middle Eastern countries in the news today. He successfully outlines the numerous religious factions in Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, giving historical backgrounds, counter perspectives and similarities. By interviewing and befriending the youth of this region, he gained a more candid perspective and insight of the turmoil they experienced. But his goal of providing a voice to t ...more
Feb 20, 2008 Heather rated it really liked it
Shelves: popular, bio-memoir
I have a confession to make: I have never been a history scholar. There are certain periods of history that interest me (the Harlem Renaissance, for example), but those are few in number, and normally don't coincide with anything reinforced in high school or college. I heard the author of this book interviewed on NPR, and I know that I had to read it. It contains the history of places that I (unfortunately) knew very little about, but because the author's own adventures were the focus of the boo ...more
Kathleen Hagen
Children of Jihad, by Jared Cohen. Produced by Blackstone Audio, narrated by Jason Collins, downloaded from

Publisher’s note:
Classrooms were never sufficient for Jared Cohen; he wanted to learn about global affairs by witnessing them firsthand. While studying on a Rhodes Scholarship
at Oxford, he took a crash course in Arabic, read voraciously on the history and culture of the Middle East, and in 2004 he embarked on the first of a
series of incredible journeys to the Middle East. In an
Maggie Campbell
"They all wanted to know the same thing: What do people in America think of Iran? There we were, citizens of two countries that are sworn enemies, all experiencing the same curiousity and eagerness to speak to one another."

"'Well, do they know we are not terrorists?' she demanded to know. 'We are Muslim and we are proud of our religion, but that does not mean we are terrorists. Do people in your country know this?'"

"But you have to promise that when you go back you will tell people the truth ab
Jared Cohen decided as an American graduate student of international relations at Oxford to travel to the Middle East to do research in the area. He planned to interview government officials for his dissertation. At his first stop, Iran, he was given the run around. Nobody could meet with him, the police harassed him. While he was waiting for appointments to speak with the officials he started informal conversations with the youth of Iran. Gradually he realized that he had access through the you ...more
Michele Pratusevich
Apr 04, 2015 Michele Pratusevich rated it really liked it
A really interesting perspective of Middle East travel (mostly youth) from the 2005 timeframe. Having traveled in the Middle East myself (not nearly as extensively as Jared, the author), it is interesting to see the changes in perspectives, etc, from the 2005 time era to 2013. He anticipates some of the conflicts that happened afterwards through his interactions with the youth. This book is also an interesting example of the state of Syria pre-2012 conflict.
Nura Yusof
Aug 08, 2011 Nura Yusof rated it liked it
A fascinating book. The author has clearly shown that not all Middle Eastern youngsters hate the US and that all they ever really want, are opportunities to participate in the building of their countries and their future and be part of the global community.

But are the kids he met representative of the majority? Possibly not. The majority could very well be this big bunch of haters, in which case, this book would have been describing an anomaly.

That aside, I am uncomfortable with something. Most
This book was recommend to me by my son. Account of Cohen's travels through the Middle East. Story begins in Lebanon, where he interviews members of the Hezbollah. In Iran, he sneaks into underground parties to interview the youth of the country. He also goes inside a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon. In Iraq, he visits the Kurds and finally ends up in Mosul, a hotbed of insurgency.
Carol Wakefield
Jan 21, 2014 Carol Wakefield rated it liked it
10 years since mr cohens trip the several Mid East nations means his story is already out of date. His visits to universities and Internet cafés looking for anti regime young people provided him with same. One wonders if a young Syrian visiting the u.s. For instance and visiting universities might also find a somewhat skewed look at the politics of this country. I persisted with the book for a look at pre revolutionary Syria. Not uninteresting if one remembers mr Cohen started with a point of vi ...more
Apr 13, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it
I have to say that this young man has some serious conviction, yearning for knowledge, willingness to party under any and all conditions, and old-fashioned guts. Mr. Cohen travels to places few Westerners will ever experience outside of being stationed there by the military.

I learned a lot about the history of Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq, as well as getting more insight into what always comes off in the media as a religion of extremism and intolerance. Pretty eye-opening stuff. Cohen's Jewis
Paula Schumm
Oct 13, 2015 Paula Schumm rated it really liked it
I listened to the audiobook from the library.

Though this one is a bit dated (events written about were in 2005), Children of Jihad was fascinating. Jared Cohen, a Jewish New Yorker, tells of his adventures with Hezbollah youth, his travels to Islamic countries, and his research on the political scene in these countries. I really enjoyed this travelogue. Recommended.
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“I didn't want any surprises; I churlishly thought if I revealed my Judaism at McDonald's, I would somehow be protected by the friendly American forces of crispy chicken sandwiches and supersized French fries.” 2 likes
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