Thursday, July 09, 2009

New in Paperback: The Islamist by Ed Husain

More than two years after its initial publication, Ed Husain’s The Islamist comes to us in a sleek new paperback from Penguin.

The Islamist is riveting. This is partly due the extraordinary subject matter and partly to Husain’s calm and stately voice.

Though this is a topic that can invite strident voices to either side, Husain is all the more compelling for never really going there. Instead, he tells his tale simply: born in a Muslim but largely non-political London suburb, recruited to fundamentalism at 16 and swimming with extremists for five years. When he was in his early 20s, Husain rejected what was on offer, did his own research and found his way back to a more traditional form of the faith in which he had been raised. Much of The Islamist consists of this spiritual and physical journey and the view from inside is both frightening and enlightening, as is Husain’s personal journey back.

Since The Islamist was first published in 2007, it was nominated for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing and the PEN/Ackerly Prize for Literary Autobiography as well as several other prizes.

If you’ve ever wondered about Islam and how it fits into the modern world, you’ll find The Islamist to be a worthwhile starting point as well as a deeply interesting read. Highly recommended.

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