John's Reviews > The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future

The Shia Revival by Vali Nasr
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's review
Jan 18, 09

bookshelves: 20th-century-history, history-of-religion, islam
Read in January, 2008

In spite of its obviously pro-Shia bias, which many other readers have also noted, this is a superb book; I cannot imagine a better introduction to the current sectarian religious strife in the Middle East and Central Asia, nor to the general theological as well as political differences between Shia and Sunni believers. In fact, it's hard to imagine a better introduction to the history and theology of Islam, period. Nasr achieves what I think I most admire in a writer of this sort of study, managing to treat his topic with scholarly rigor but without being dull. He also manages to to use his 300 pages to offer 300 pages worth of information and insight, unlike so many books on contemporary politics (and especially the War on Terror) that generally seem to have about a 10-1 ratio of fluff/repetition/bombast-to-substance (more like 25-to-1 in the case of Thomas Friedman's books, but that's another story). If I were to choose one book to give to someone interested in contemporary international politics, it might well be this one.
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