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The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud from Tradition to Terror
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The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud from Tradition to Terror

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  110 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
In this informed, compelling exploration of Moslem beliefs and of the sectarian conflicts within the community, a Jewish historian paints a sympathetic portrait of mainstream Islam and exposes the centuries-old roots of Osama bin Laden’s extremism.

The difficult, protracted war against terrorism has raised unsettling questions about the nature of Islam and its influence on
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 15th 2002 by Doubleday
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Mikey B.
Unfortunately I found this book to be flawed. It was published in 2003 so obviously much has changed since. The invasion of Iraq with its disastrous consequence is one example.

The premise of the book, as per the author, is that Islam is divided into two groups – the traditional sects of Islam (the good) – and Wahhabi Islam (the evil).I find this too simplistic; the author promotes all others branches of Islam as being benign and accommodating. I do agree with the author that Wahhabism is fanatic
Nicholas Whyte

The two eponymous faces are fanaticism and moderation; the book's subtitle is 'Saudi fundamentalism and its role in terrorism', and the whole thrust of the book is to expose Wahhabism and its linkage with the Saudi monarchy as a driving force in Islamic terrorism worldwide. The tone of the book is offputtingly polemical at times, but there were a couple of good sections - Schwarz is pro-Shi'ite, so his take on Iran is much more sober than one usually get
Nov 09, 2014 Natalie rated it liked it
I can't decide between 2 and 3 stars, really. I appreciated a lot of the information in the book - particularly in the first few chapters. Then, after that, something happens and it just doesn't have the tone of a book that was well-researched. There seems to be a lot of opinion thrown in and sometimes I didn't know exactly what was the author's views on something and what was a fact. Not a bad book at all, but I think there are probably stronger, better-research (or maybe better-delivered) book ...more
Jun 02, 2007 Matt rated it liked it
Definitely an interesting story, even if slow and very academic. Written post-9/11 but pre-Iraq, Schwartz argues that the strict Wahabbi denomination of the Saudi ruling class has been a detriment to pluralistic Islam in the 20th century, and the US alliance with the Saudi monarchy, incorrectly seen as a staunch and moderate force in the Middle East, has been detrimental to the war on terror and to America's standing in the region. He gives lots of examples of export of extremist idealogy from S ...more
Nia Vestal
Apr 15, 2012 Nia Vestal rated it it was ok
Reads too much like a conspiracy book than a book that should be based on hard facts. The author presented questions that made me think and I liked that. But too much information is unvalidated even when looking through the notes and bibliography. I kept coming back to the question of what would motivate a Jewish author to write a critical history of Islam at America's back door. Most intelligent readers could answer this question without reading the book. The book was an interesting read but as ...more
Michael Connolly
Mar 06, 2012 Michael Connolly rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, islam
The author does a good job of describing the cruel Wahhabi sect within Islam. As an alternative, he recommends the gentler form of Islam, called Sufism. Unfortunately, he does not go into much depth in his description of Sufism. Elsewhere, I have read that Sufism is a mixture of traditional Islam with shamanism from Central Asia. This would explain why Sufism is found primarily in the northern range of Islam, and not in Arabia. So it appears that the author's thesis that radical Islam is a perve ...more
May 07, 2016 Tanner rated it it was amazing
Essential book giving history of modern sunni radicalism. This is the best book on modern islam i have ever read. Wahabi islam is almost as old as america. It is essential to know how radical islam is spreading its propaganda across the world. All other forms of islam like sufi and shia are being oppressed. This book is a must read.
Dale Amidei
Mar 17, 2013 Dale Amidei rated it really liked it
An informative summary of the origin of the divisions within one of the world's great religions. Vital reading for anyone seeking to understand the current conflict between democracy and theocratic fascism.
Feb 18, 2013 Becky rated it liked it
I would recommend reading the first four chapters to anyone interested in basic knowledge of Islam in historical perspective. The rest of the book gives the author's point of view that I myself don’t agree with entirely and I would think others would debate as well alot of it as well.
Lisa Branch
Aug 14, 2010 Lisa Branch rated it it was amazing
Knockout. Read sample from any book sales website. Describes how radical islam isn't Islam. Describes how traditional Islam radicalized to a call for destruction.
Seth Bailey
Feb 12, 2008 Seth Bailey rated it liked it
It's very informative, but very dry. The last two chapters really went where I wanted it to go, but the writing style in general is a bit bland. It is, however, still worth reading.
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