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ISIS: The State of Terror

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,502 ratings  ·  185 reviews
The Islamic State, known as ISIS, exploded into the public eye in 2014 with startling speed and shocking brutality. It has captured the imagination of the global jihadist movement, attracting recruits in unprecedented numbers and wreaking bloody destruction with a sadistic glee that has alienated even the hardcore terrorists of its parent organization, al Qaeda.

Jessica Ste
ebook, 432 pages
Published March 17th 2015 by Ecco (first published January 1st 2015)
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Will Byrnes
…violent apocalyptic groups are not inhibited by the possibility of offending their political constituents because they see themselves as participating in the ultimate battle. Apocalyptic groups are the most likely terrorist groups to engage in acts of barbarism, and to attempt to use rudimentary weapons of mass destruction. Their actions are also significantly harder to predict than the actions of politically motivated groups.
For most of us the acronym ISIS conjures up an array of images, mos
Abubakar Mehdi
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It didn't happen overnight, but the world woke up to the nightmare of ISIS in summer 2014. Before that ISIS was in the news, but not the way it wanted to be and only as an obscure offshoot of AQ. So It changed that forever, when a gruesome video of barbaric murder of James Foley (an American journalist) spread over internet like wildfire. It introduced the world to an extremist group that was more brutal, violent and powerful than any other terrorist organization. A group of terrorists who celeb ...more
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book tells the fast moving story of ISIS up to December 2014, and a bit of early 2015 update. It has good reference material in that it includes a time line from its origin in 2003, a glossary and a history in short labeled dictionary style entries showing the influences that created this group including the prophet, the caliphate, the Sunni and Shi’a split, Salafism, “Waging War” and a summary (of what the book defines as) “ISIS’s: Radical among Radicals”.

The authors are on difficult groun
11811 (Eleven)
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easily the most academic book-length material I've read on the subject. I don't want these guys knocking on my door someday passing out literature, or heads, or whatever.
This report on the state of [Islamic] terror worldwide is essential to our understanding of a new kind of ideological warfare and how it is fought. In addition it raises issues of security far from the physical battlefields in Syria or Iraq, and describes the ways in which bad actors influence surveillance and curbs on free speech. Finally, it contrasts Al Qaeda with ISIS along many threads, and leaves open the possibility that one will eventually absorb the other.
"The West has too often found i
Steven Z.
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At a time when we see images of Iraqi forces backed by Iranian supported Shi'a militias trying to retake Saddam Hussein’s home of Tikrit from the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and we witness young girls leaving their homes in London and make their way through Turkey to join the jihad in Syria, it raises enumerable questions for politicians and the public worldwide. Foremost, is how did we arrive at this point with ISIS, ISIL, IS or whatever their name is at the moment. In addition, ho ...more
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
(Read and "reviewed" in May 2015) Although I was familiar with Islamism/Islamic extremism I did not know of "ISIS" before summer 2013 and Obama's announcement of this name and of this group's expansion. And since then I haven't come close to keeping up with the long, analytical articles about the movement. But their spreading terrorism and the recent news of their capture of Palmyra forced my hand to learn more. I chose this book rather than the Michael Weiss book (published at the same time) be ...more
[As an aside, I was talking to my older son yesterday, and when he saw the cover of this book, he said, "There's a book about ISIS that's in the waiting room at work, and some people were really mad that it was there."

"Hmm," I said. "It seems to me that, when people have expressed the desire to destroy you and your society, it would be wise to learn as much about them as possible, if only so you're better equipped to stop them."]

Stern and Berger have some impressive credentials, and their look
David Hart
ISIS' "Twitter War"

At times this book is very interesting and informative. At times it is rambling and incoherent - in desperate need of some editing.

While the first few chapters are well fashioned, Berger created software that aggregates Twitter content. It seems that most of this book is about ISIS' social media campaign. I'm sure that this is important but not as important as what is happening on the ground. Moreover the authors totally ignore the culture changes in Al Qaeda since the demise
Tariq Mahmood
The book is a purely academic discussion of the origination and evolution of ISIS, the movement spearheading Islamic 'jihad' at the moment. I completely agreed with the authors that the illegal and spurious War in Iraq was the major enabler for this super terrorist organization to grow into a state, no matter how rudimentary it is. The incarnation of ISIS leadership in Iraqi concentration camps worked like a University enabling the young men to produce an organization which has created such havo ...more
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Some quick notes:

- non-linear, goes through a brief overview then dives into specific aspects
- good section on Islamic State's use of video for recruiting
- heavy focus on the social media aspects of Islamic State. Specifically how they use Twitter and other social networks.
- interesting take on what Twitter has done and should do to prevent Islamic State from growing on their platform
- interesting section with suggestions for how to combat Islamic State - the only book I've read that takes that
Kayla D
Jul 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a riveting read. The authors covered practically every aspect related to ISIS – its history, ideology, foundations, doctrine, strategy, and more – and they did so in a manner that was interesting and not at all difficult to comprehend. A huge chunk of the book was dedicated to the Islamic State’s use of social media and while I found it to be interesting, it was clear that Stern and Berger had a lot more to say about it. In fact, it called for a book dedicated solely to social medi ...more
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely current book on ISIS, Islamic State. It is very insightful and thorough. And I learned a great deal about its history and motivation. A must read for anyone interested in current affairs.
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the second Michiko read for me concerning ISIS, the other being Michael Weiss's recent release, "ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror." Obviously, both books covered a lot of the same territory, but I would personally recommend this one over the other (though you could read both, like me!). Weiss's book sits more in a straightforward historical genre, while Stern's delves more deeply into analytical discussion. Stern includes a glossary and appendix that are extremely helpful in preparing the ...more
Richard Macquarrie
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
It is clear the authors were very knowledgeable about how ISIS started and its origins. I learned a lot about the founding of the group and its existence in Iraq even before the 2003 invasion. It was very obvious the authors were liberal democrats who blamed President George W. Bush for the creation of ISIS while ignoring the fact that President Obama pardoned its leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi. It was clear ISI was defeated until we released them all. But despite their liberal leanings they made g ...more
Daniel Simmons
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Simply fascinating. Other books are better at tracing ISIS's history, military campaigns, and internal politics, but this is the best I've read (so far) about how ISIS spreads and popularizes its ideological messages using psychological theory and 21st century social media. (Chapters 6 and 7, "Jihad Goes Social" and "The Electronic Brigades," are especially riveting.) The authors also remind us (that is, potential victims of ISIS terror) not to rise to the bait of indulging this ridiculous group ...more
Laura Fairly
Mar 17, 2015 rated it liked it
As often as ISIS appears in the news, I didn't realize how little I really knew about the terrorist group.This book explores the beginnings of ISIS, its relationship to Al Qaeda, and its particular ideology and goals. It also extensively delves into ISIS's use of social media, as they are the only terror group thus far to truly utilize social media to broaden its audience. While ISIS might scare you, I think this book does a great job of providing you with the facts without sensationalizing.
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
داعش جماعة منشقة عن القاعدة تتحدى كل الطرق التقليدية للإرهاب واستقطاب المجاهدين المزعومين كما أنها تتحدى الجماعات الإرهابية التقليدية من أمثال بوكو حرام وجبهة النصرة ببشاعة أعمالها وغوض الساحات الالكترونية بتضخيم اعداد المشاهدين والمشاركات بحسابات وهمية لتغذية الحرب النفسية.
هندسة التوحش بمثابة قرانهم ودليلهم الإلهي ولا ينتظروا ظهور المهدي المزعوم او الخلفية من انقاض الماضي بل جعلوا من اهدافهم واقع ونخب البغدادي نفسه خليفة على كل المسلمين رغم محاولته لتخلص من لقب خليفة سوريا والعراق.
لم يلقى رد ال
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
To be honest I haven't finish reading this book yet --- however my ultimate purpose why I bought this book in the first place had been fulfilled.


As you can see, I put this book as biography on my shelf, simply because it is a brilliant details about ISIS as a whole. I was quite hesitate which shelf I need to put this book on since it was literally a non-fiction and quite a heavy one for me this year. But yeah .. That's how it goes.

My purpose

Why I bought this book in the first place w
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is chalk full of factual information. I decided to read this book because I find myself falling victim to the mediatized demon, ISIS, and the fear they work to instill in unsuspecting victims. This book walked through the history of ISIS, where they came from, and attempted to explain the very complex connections of the "jihadist" groups in the Eastern Hemisphere and their scope of control in other countries. I applaud the author for sticking to the facts and trying hard to stray from a ...more
Al Zaquan
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book talks about an essential topic with the academic tone and earnestness of a college essay. Everything it says is important, but it chooses to say it in the least interesting way. It reads like a checklist (i.e. #1 Women in ISIS, #2 Children in ISIS) and it took me a long time to plod through this book. Has none of the compelling/thriller-like narrative of Black Flags, which deals with a smaller part of the ISIS story - but tells it with more depth. This book often quotes other books, ot ...more
Prem Sylvester
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

ISIS is the crack cocaine of violent extremism, all of the elements that make it so alluring and addictive purified into a crystallized form.

A riveting, fairly comprehensive primer to the ideologies and operations of the most infamous and influential extremist jihadi group in the world. The broad strokes of this book will be familiar to those who have been following the group's activities for a while now, but there is still plenty nuance and detail here to add to what we know about them
John Defrog
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are plenty of books out now about Islamic State (or ISIS), most of them naturally out of date (this being an ongoing story) and many of them politically motivated. This one has a more academic approach, and covers a lot of bases: how and why ISIS came into being, how it operates, the context in which it operates, its innovative use of social media, and what it ultimately wants to achieve. Understanding all of this, the authors argue, is key in developing the most effective strategy to deal ...more
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, non-fiction
Those who want to learn about Daesh (ISIS) - Read this book.
Those who want to vastly improve their understanding of Daesh - Read this book.

This was a great read. The authors took a complex topic and attempted to simplify the information in such a way that the layman might understand. In terms of simplification and establishing an effective breakdown of the information, I believe the authors have succeeded. In terms of making the information accessible to the layman, I feel the beginner would b
Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politiek
I had expected to read a bit more about the military actions of Islamic State to set up their caliphate. Must have been my mistake for not checking the content of the book on beforehand.

In return, one gets a good insight in the tense relation between Al Qaida and ISIS, the use of social media, psychological warfare, the impact of the Iraq invasion in 2003 on the rise of ISIS (former Baath officials and army men fired or imprisoned who got recruited by muslim extremists),...

It is food for thought
John Branney
Apr 05, 2015 rated it liked it
This book will not keep you on the edge of your seat, if that is what you are seeking from the book. At times, the book kept me interested while at other times, it was drawn out and boring. It did accomplish my number one objective in reading the book - it gave me some insight on the genesis of ISIS and how it ties to the Islam religion and Muslims, in general. I was amazed reading about how ISIS is exploiting social media to get their ideas to a broader audience. The world has become one scary ...more
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-highlights
Even though any book about ISIS is bound to be inconclusive (and the fact is also acknowledged by this book's authors) and although Joby Warrick's Pulitzer Prize-winning Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS seems to be getting the most attention, I would say The State of Terror is pretty much essential as it offers both an introduction and a summary, with extra focus on the media platform. The roots of the ultraviolent apocalyptic terrorist group are laid out in as a clear as possible way and this mode ...more
Nikhil Nayyar
Jun 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Just an year into existence,ISIS/IS/ISIL has emerged as a powerful movement.It would be fool hardy on our part to turn a blind eye towards it.The book couldn't have been timed better,when the world is struggling with possible solutions to curb this menace.
The book follows its evolution,ideology and modus operandi providing the reader with minute details and possible solutions.
It's not information overload but gives you enough to ponder and follow the groups movement closely.
At the crucial junctu
Mar 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: current-events
After I decided to read up on ISIS, this work came up with positive reviews and I was not disappointed. The history and unique characteristics of ISIS are discussed (the most interesting to me are their rationale for the glorification of brutality and their effective deployment of mass social media). I will not stop with my reading of this subject, but for now I recommend this text to any who are coming at this subject with little background. The appendix contains a helpful and lengthen glossary ...more
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
A few years ago, I started reading about Afghanistan and Pakistan, mainly because I realized I knew nothing of what was going on over there. This book, recently published, gives an excellent up-to-date accounting of the faction group ISIS and how they are waging a war of terrorism. Very informative chapters on using social media in war and also the effect these groups have on a nation in terms of mindset and a push into cultural psychosis.
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Jessica Stern is a Lecturer in Public Policy and a faculty affiliate of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. From 1994-95, she served as Director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council, where she was responsible for national security policy toward Russia and the former Soviet states and for policies to reduce the threat of nuclear smugglin ...more
“You are significantly more likely to die in a car accident, especially if you fail to wear a seat belt, than to be attacked by ISIS. Wear your seat belt” 4 likes
“Killing civilians and destroying infrastructure are not typically a terrorist organization’s end goals. Rather, they are a means to provoke a political reaction.” 2 likes
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