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Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror
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Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  820 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
In this brilliant look at the rise of political Islam, the distinguished political scientist and anthropologist Mahmood Mamdani brings his expertise and insight to bear on a question many Americans have been asking since 9/11: how did this happen? Good Muslim, Bad Muslim is a provocative and important book that will profoundly change our understanding both of Islamist poli ...more
Paperback, 324 pages
Published June 21st 2005 by Harmony (first published 2004)
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Aug 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Definitely a must-read for those who need some fodder when dealing with American jingoists. Mamdani covers the double standards in US foreign policy from Latin America and Africa, to the Middle East and Afghanistan. The first part of the book is mainly about Latin America & Africa and read a bit more slowly than the rest (he was building up to show how American involvement in Middle East/Afghanistan is related to cold war politics---including support for right wing despotic governments over ...more
Jan 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A must read if you understand that no event in the modern world is abstracted from decades of history, politics, and complicated relationships. It will open your eyes.
Feb 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
This book is virtually the authentic history of the genesis of islamic terrorism as we see today. It starts with the hey days of the Cold War, the US role in privatising war and conflict, its nefarious role in South Africa, Mozambique, Nicaragua, the use of drug money for financing war, creation of Afghani jihad forces to fight Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the CIA role in creating conflict situations, which has resulted in the menace of Islamic Terrorism as we see today. The book does ...more
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I finally exhaled... it had been since last week when I finished Clash of Civilizations. My face has returned back to my shade of brown. Excellent read. Very accessible. Pick up a copy, start reading, lets talk. "Not only must we learn to forget, we must also not forget to learn." ...more
Aug 26, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Americans, Republicans
Shelves: booksofthepast
This is an ambitious book that attempts to cover the involvement of the US in the Middle East (and Asia as a whole) during the time of the Cold War. Mamdani argues a number of points, many of them in attempt to debunk the idea that Muslims are the world's only terrorists, that it was cultural determination that lead to violence in the Middle East and not American and foreign meddling, and that there are no solutions to the US vs Middle East controversy other than American occupation of nations i ...more
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'd like to read again, or parts of it again, now that I am out of an academic setting, to see how it applies to the practicalities of most work.
Dec 14, 2009 added it
Shelves: read-2009
The beginning of this book would have the reader believe that it is going to talk about political Islam and the question of how 9/11 happened. It doesn't however. Instead it says, essentially, political Islam is not about terror and besides, you did it first.

While there are some insightful sections in this book about the difference of secularism in Islam vs secularism in Christianity, it is mostly about the proxy wars and CIA influence in the US since Vietnam. For those that aren't familiar with
Dec 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Great Book. It did a great job of placing the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in historical perspective by connecting the dots from American clandestine interventions in Laos, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan (1980's). The American intelligence agencies privatized war by funding terrorists, gangs, warlords, and the like throughout the Cold War to defeat pro-Soviet regimes and "roll-back" the Soviet Union. One can view Al Qaeda as a product of this process, and the Afghanistan War as "Cold War cleanup". The ...more
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very good look at the cultivation of terror by the United States during the Cold War. The book begins with a chapter on what Mamdani calls "culture talk", which shows the problems inherent in describing non-westerners and especially Muslims using Western terms (fundamentalist, for example) that already have clearly defined meanings in their Western contexts that do not describe non-western counterparts. This leads into a helpful and productive discussion of "political Islam" and its variants. ...more
Dec 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A tremendously articulate review of U.S. 'terrorism' as it rises in the name of "Low Impact Conflicts" in the Reagan era. Chillingly on the mark. An accounting that hasn't been acknowledged that MUST be 'out there' for all to consider. WE STARTED IT! That is, we are responsisble for the "War on Terror." 9/11 --as much as bin Ladin's people were responsible (an open question), was 'blowback.' And if you need a definition of 'blowback' read Chalmers Johnson.
Jan 30, 2012 rated it liked it
There are some interesting parts, but his main ideas were more fully expanded in books like Legacy of Ashes, The Looming Tower, Orientalism and Sowing Crisis. Mamdani has moments, but for someone who went though a Hizballah appreciation phase 3 years ago, Mamdani's fawning repetition of Fanon and general Third World-ist view really does not provide a superior alternative. See Olivier Roy for why this book was not fantastic.
May 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
This is quite the Bush-era relic. There's a definite hidden agenda here, and a predictable bias toward blaming the US and Israel for all the world's problems. No surprises here, and nothing you haven't heard a zillion times before. Skip this one and pick up Wright's The Looming Tower instead.
Aug 16, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
great book to read up on the political nature of islam. i felt somewhat lost at parts because i have no political background and little history background on some of the things he discussed. i felt that if i had more knowledge, i'd enjoy the book a lot more, since the chapters i did have previous knowledge of, were the ones i enjoyed the most out of this book.
Sebastian Schwark
Aug 19, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: noone, really
Shelves: politicalstuff
not convincing at all. a conceptually confused, partially preposterous narration.
Apr 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone concerned with identity politics and the politics of representation
Shelves: americanislam
Brilliant analysis of how political zeal and religious piety are wrongly mixed thus creating a distorted understanding of Muslim grievances toward the US and former colonial powers.
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent read!

Very insightful for those who would like to learn more about the history of terrorism, and the US's involvement in created the terrorists of today.
Ashley Willis
Mar 11, 2008 rated it liked it
This book gets a little technical at times, but I think everyone who wants to get a feel for all perspectives of terrorism should read this book.
Sami Riikilä
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Islamilaisen terrorin aiheuttama hävitys ravisuttaa maailmaa nyt enemmän kuin koskaan aikaisemmin. Ratkaisua ei tunnu löytyvän, sillä terrori-iskujen tiheys ja mittakaava vaikuttavat olevan kasvussa. Siksi jokainen pyrkimys tämän vallitsevan tilanteen ja sen aiheuttaman poliittisen ja sotilaallisen sekasorron ymmärtämiseksi ja korjaamiseksi on kultaakin arvokkaampaa jos mielimme oikaista tämän tuhoisan kehityksen suunnan.

Mahmood Mamdanin "Kylmä sota ja terrorin juuret" esittelee kaksi maailmanpo
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sikäli osui hyvään aikaan tämän lukeminen, että nykyinen touhu Yhdysvalloissa asettuu kivasti perspektiiviin - vaikka olin jo jonkun verran perehtynyt historiaan tältä osin, tuli kirjassa paljon uutta esille. USA on aina käyttänyt paikallisia järjestöjä omiin tarkoitusperiinsä, nostanut, tukenut ja hylännyt ne sittemmin ns. susille, siinä ei ollut mitään uutta, luoden samalla ääriliikkeitä joita ei sitten kykene hallitsemaan (ja kukoistavaa huumekauppaa siinä sivussa). Kirja painottaa erityisest ...more
Feb 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Very different premise from what I expected - should've paid more attention to the subtitle than the title. A rather academic approach, which I also didn't quite expect. Very informative and thought provoking book on both the roots of terrorism and how everything globally is tied together and decades ago wars still hold strong influence over today's policies and realities.

The first part of the book was a bit more tedious and I kept wondering how it was going to relate to the overall premise, tho
Tito Quiling, Jr.
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I finally was able to get a copy a few months ago, and sort of got into reading at the right time, when the political atmosphere in this country is picking up the pace for next year's presidential and senatorial elections, and with a couple of names coming from Mindanao, the issue of the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) comes into light once more, along with other related stories within the same sphere that made the news.

One would commend the book for his extensive mapping of major (albeit selected) w
Aizat Mokhtar
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The book focuses on the rise of Islamic Terrorism since Afghan revolution against Soviet invasion in 1979 and explains the American foreign policy and doctrine of military intervention during Cold War.

What I love about this book is it doesn't go directly with modern US intervention in the middle east post 9/11 but explain in detail about its foreign involvement in latin american countries and african countries in the 60's during the cold war. It starts with the Reagan administration neoliberal g
Ellis Amdur
Jan 16, 2015 rated it liked it
A fine book on the results of two laws: that of “unintended consequences,” and that of “abysmally poor thought out planning.” Sketches out in painful detail the emergence of America as a country that has, at times, blithely rejected international law as having any say in American actions in the world, due to a grandiose sense of our own righteousness. Mambani shows America’s role in the creation of Muslim terrorists who now besiege us, and also how we, through our CIA have consistently turned a ...more
A look a the how and why of jihadi reign including cold war, Afghanistan and role of US - CIA in attempting to win one over Soviet regime by supplying money and arms to Pakistan with no accounting and no questions asked.

Some of us have lived though the times and some have lost more than sleep over the events, some have lost near and dear due to the "let them run amok as long as it is elsewhere". Still, a good book to inform those that only saw a one-up over Soviets as a good thing at any cost -
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
You have concentrate quite hard to read this book to follow Mamdani's arguments, but I found, in the end, it was worth it. Mamdani tells a complex story, that pulls together recent history in a cohesive explanation of the emergence of terrorism. He explains how Vietnam, the Nicaraguan revolution, South African apartheid, the Iranian revolution, the Cold War, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iraq/Iran war, Jerry Falwell and the American Christian Right,the American relationship with Israel ...more
Aug 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Not quite what I expected, although now that I've read this, the title fits.

The author makes the case that America caused terrorism through the actions of the CIA from the Vietnam era up to present day. The CIA is responsible for setting up terror training camps, hijacking the idea of jihad into a religious holy war, all in the name of fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan and throughout Africa. The author also accuses the CIA of financing all its operations by inflating narcotics production throu
Jul 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Good Muslim, Bad Muslim is a book about the world before and after 9/11. Mahmood Mamdani talks about the cause and effect of the cold war on foreign policy in America and then the policy change after 9/11. Mamdani makes great points in this book and I actually learned alot from reading. He does blame the U.S and Israel with some of the problems but he doesn't do it without evidence. He provides many examples and a very different viewpoint. I appreciated his new take on suicide bombers but also m ...more
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"After an unguarded reference to pursuing a "crusade," President Bush moved to distinguish between "good Muslims" and "bad Muslims." From this point of view, "bad Muslims" were clearly responsible for terrorism. At the same time, the president seemed to assure Americans that "good Muslims" were anxious to clear their names and consciences of this horrible crime and would undoubtedly support "us" in a war against "them." But this could not hide the central message of such discourse: unless proved ...more
Leonel Caraciki
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Interessante na sua tese sobre a inabilidade do discurso político ocidental de categorizar a relação entre o Islã e as praticas políticas da modernidade devido ao desenvolvimento histórico desta religião ser diferente dos caminhos históricos do cristianismo e das estruturas de poder do Ocidente; mas profundamente digressivo ao tentar historicizar o envolvimento dos EUA na criação dos braços armados do Islã político radical, se perdendo em um emaranhado de acusações e denuncismo vulgar. As fontes ...more
Sep 14, 2009 rated it really liked it

Incredibly detailed, well researched book that covers a bit of political science, journalism, history and cultural studies.

Mamdani does a great job historizicing 9/11 and the resulting terror narrative of the bush years that still influences American politics and international policy today. The book goes a long way in helping readers develop a more profound understanding of the who, when, where and how... yielded that historical moment and the responses to it as well.

Great book... recommend it!
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“I have written this book with the conviction that the response to injury does not have to be vengeance and that we need to distinguish between revenge and justice. A response other than revenge is possible and desirable. For that to happen, however, we need to turn the moment of injury into a moment of freedom, of choice. For Americans, that means turning 9/11 into an opportunity to reflect on America's place in the world. Grief for victims should not obscure the fact that there is no choice without a debate and no democracy without choice.” 4 likes
“Before 9/11, I thought that tragedy had the potential to connect us with humanity in ways that prosperity does not. I thought that if prosperity tends to isolate, tragedy must connect. Now I realize that this is not always the case. One unfortunate response to tragedy is a self-righteousness about one’s own condition, a seeking proof of one’s special place in the world, even in victimhood. One afternoon, I shared these thoughts with a new colleague, the Israeli vice chancellor of the Budapest-based Central European University. When he told me that he was a survivor of Auschwitz, I asked him what lesson he had drawn from this great crime. He explained that, like all victims of Auschwitz, he, too, had said, “Never again.” In time, though, he had come to realize that this phrase lent itself to two markedly different conclusions: one was that never again should this happen to my people; the other that it should never again happen to any people. Between these two interpretations, I suggest nothing less than our common survival is at stake.” 2 likes
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