Friday, September 21, 2007

What is Michael Mazarr reading?

The latest contributor to Writers Read: Michael Mazarr, a professor at the National War College and author of numerous books and articles on various aspects of U.S. defense policy and international security. His entry opens:
I'm a professor at an American War College, which is a timely, slightly depressing, but also heartening (given the amazing quality and inspirational character of our students) vocation to have at the moment, all events considered. My reading lately has been in support of my teaching and curriculum design work. [read on]
Mazarr's new book is Unmodern Men in the Modern World: Radical Islam, Terrorism, and the War on Modernity.

About the book, from Cambridge University Press:
Five years into the war on terror, we still don't understand the supposed "enemy." Official analyses of radical Islam remain simplistic and unhelpful for understanding the motivations and mindsets of people still characterized simply as "evildoers who hate freedom." This book offers a new way of understanding this challenge and figuring out what to do about it. It concludes with specific policy suggestions for a new approach to replace the badly-failing current strategy. This book approaches radical Islam by putting it into a comparative context. It makes a big, bold argument about the character of the threat and the nature of world politics in this provocative and wide-ranging examination of radical Islamists.
Among the early praise for Unmodern Men in the Modern World:

"Michael Mazarr’s Unmodern Men in the Modern World represents a valuable integration of the scholarship on the political and intellectual origins of anti-modernist extremist movements in Germany, Russia and Japan of the twentieth century with that regarding the origins and nature of radical Islamism in recent decades. Mazarr has read widely and thought clearly. Even for readers who dissent from Mazarr’s policy prescriptions, Unmodern Men contains insights of value for policy makers, scholars, analysts, students and interested citizens. It is also evidence of a welcome and important phenomenon, namely the closing of a gap between the world of serious scholarship in the humanities and social sciences and that of policy debate in Washington, DC."
--Jeffrey Herf, author of Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich, and Professor of History, University of Maryland, College Park

"Michael Mazarr provides a penetrating insight into the nature of jihadism by showing how it is the latest in a long line of extreme reactions to modernization. He separates valid lessons of history from invalid ones in assessing how liberal democracies can best respond. In so doing, he persuasively demonstrates how the ‘war on terror’ in its current form is misdirected and counterproductive."
--Paul R. Pillar, Visiting Professor, Security Studies Program, Georgetown University

"This book tackles the big issues underlying the war on terrorism. It rightly sees the ideological core of the global jihadi movement as a critique of modernity -- of American and European versions of the nation-state -- and a contest over the future of global politics. Insightful, clear and controversial, this is a thesis that will be much discussed."
--Mark Juergensmeyer, Director, Arfalea Center for Global & International Studies, University of California-Santa Barbara. Author of Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence

Read an excerpt from Unmodern Men in the Modern World and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

Writers Read: Michael Mazarr.

--Marshal Zeringue