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The Politics of Chaos in the Middle East

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  25 ratings  ·  6 reviews
In this book, Olivier Roy, Europe's leading scholar of political Islam, argues that the consequences of the war on terror have artificially conflated conflicts in the Middle East in such a way that they appear to be the expression of a widespread Muslim anger against the West. But in reality, there are no us and them, Instead, the West faces an array of reverse alliances t ...more
Hardcover, 167 pages
Published April 18th 2008 by Columbia University Press (first published January 1st 2008)
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Sep 17, 2011 Tim rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Cable TV viewers
Disclaimer up front: I stopped at page 36 because I was so disappointed with this book.

I purchased this book solely on the reputation of the author. I've read other works by Olivier Roy (1 book and several essays) and found his research and insights to be top notch. This book fell far short of my expectations.

I stopped at page 36. I would have stopped at page 10 were it not for the author's reputation. There was simply nothing new or insightful. His analysis is the same type of hand-waving gener
Just missed five stars. This is an excellent and compact book by an author who knows his field really, really well. Olivier Roy doesn't mess around -- in 159 sparsely written pages he describes:

o the various schools of thought (Neocon, Third-Worldist, Clash-of-Civilizations...) regarding the Islamic world today.

o the mistakes -- strategic and conceptual -- made by the US in its post-9/11 reactions.

o the real (as opposed to feared or imagined) groupings, movements, and fault lines in the Islamic
This is an easy book to read in one sense (159 pages, doubled spaced) but it's hard going in many other senses. It's a scholarly read which tends to assume that the reader is already highly familiar with the Middle East and is comfortable with distinctions such as "Islamic Pan-Arabism" vs "Pan-Islamism". I had to spend a lot of time re-reading paragraphs until I understood them. It would have benefited from a glossary to explain terms such as irrendentism, millenaranism and ummah.

Essentially Roy
Good polemic by Roy on the failed policies of the West in the aftermath of 9/11. The chapter on Iran especially stands tall today in the problems the Islamic republic faces today. Roy does a good job at showing the real break lines in the Middle East hidden between the rhetoric of a so called clash of civilizations.
One has a distinct impression that the erudite Roy cranked this 158-page informal book out in a single weekend. This effectively explains the Middle East before the Arab Spring, and his discussion of Iranian internal politics, the sales pitch of Al Qaeda, and the limits of Islamism are worth reading. For maximum efficiency in explaining the current state of teh region, grab this book and Bruce Riedel's Al Qaeda book. The title alone indicates Roy's subtle knowledge of the region.
Excellent overview of the complexity of Middle Eastern politics and conflict.
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A professor at the European University Institute in Florence (Italy); he was previously a research director at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and a lecturer for both the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) and the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (IEP).

From 1984 to 2008, he has acted as a consultant to the French Foreign Ministry.

In 1988, Ro
More about Olivier Roy...
الجهل المقدس: زمن دين بلا ثقافة Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah The Failure of Political Islam The New Central Asia: The Creation of Nations Secularism Confronts Islam

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