Customer Review

40 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Radical by Maajid Nawaz, 9 Aug 2012
This review is from: Radical: My Journey from Islamist Extremism to a Democratic Awakening (Paperback)
Wow... There are some axes being ground, grapes turning sour and chips balanced delicately on shoulders round here, aren't there? Anyone looking for a balanced, unbiased opinion about this book has to wade through an awful lot of hagiographies by friends and hatchet jobs by enemies before getting to anything subjective.

Yes, the writing in 'Radical' is wobbly in places - the prose can be a little purple, and the editor deserves a slap on the wrist (note: you wouldn't describe a dungeon as "cretinous") - but Nawaz isn't a professional writer, and the flaws, if anything, at least demonstrate the book wasn't overly ghostwritten. What we're hearing is Nawaz's voice, shaped into a gripping story by Tom Bromley. And it really is a gripping story. For all his self-aggrandizing bombast and flourishes of immodesty, Nawaz makes a likeable narrator and his story is an interesting one.

Other reviewers criticise him for placing himself at the centre of major events, but it's fairly clear by the end of the book that he often was if not at the centre then at least pretty bloody close to the centre of several key events in the recent history of UK Islamism. Like any memoir, the reader must bear in mind that this is the author's version of events, that it won't always be a balanced overview of his life and career, that somebody else present at each event might describe it differently; that goes with the territory. What Nawaz has given us isn't a definitive account of Hizb ut-Tahrir UK but one man's account of it. If those of us with no experience of that world wish to know more about it, accounts like this are invaluable; the more the better.

Of course, other critics - the particularly stupid, axe-grinding ones - will claim that Nawaz is simply a wolf in sheep's clothing, playing at the reformed radical while, I don't know... still plotting to overthrow the west? If they're particularly knuckle-headed they might even throw in some semi-researched reference to "taqqiya". If they do, just ignore them. Similarly, if their review begins "I know/knew Maajid Nawaz", ignore them. This is an entertaining, informative book, and a welcome follow on to Ed Husain's The Islamist.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Aug 2012 19:15:47 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Aug 2012 19:16:20 BDT
G Horrocks says:
I also noticed the use of the word cretinous to describe the dungeon and found it initially odd. I believe that probably came from Maajid's initial draft and he used the wrong word, believing it to be correct.

Listening to some of Maajid's lectures his speech is often overly flowery to the point of drawing attention to itself. He also frequently uses words incorrectly and makes a number of basic grammatical errors. He tries very hard to adopt the academic voice but he clearly isn't a natural.

There is no way such a glaring error would escape the attention of both a professional writer ( Tom Bromley ) and the book's editor. My belief is they noticed it but decided to keep it for stylistic purposes. The use of the word evokes something of the madness a man would feel when incarcerated. I remember laughing in the British classic "Withnail and I" when uncle Monty referred to his cat as an oaf. The use of the word wasn't wrong as such but definitely slightly abrasive when applied to a cat and yet somehow it contributed to the insanity of the character and was as such entirely correct.

One last thing, I have read all the reviews and I don't think anyone has suggested Maajid is playing at reformed radical whilst still plotting to overthrow the west. Muslims appear to view Maajid as a sellout and Quilliam as an uncle tom organisation.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Aug 2013 23:40:53 BDT
Music Lover says:
He is a fantasist making the very best of the opportunities available to him, speaking to a (largely) ignorant audience willing to believe his lies.

Posted on 19 Oct 2013 18:20:48 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 Oct 2013 18:22:28 BDT
Prokopton says:
Agree with the reviewer re chips/grapes/axes... detectable too in the previous commenters. Nawaz is an excellent man. He's not going for "academic" prose, he's trying to merge the Islamic delivery style with Western values. Let's see you pull that off. When he speaks before muslims and gets such stick, when I think that he's left his family, when I see the Tommy Robinson coup, I know he is the real deal and deserves our support. Time will prove me right.

<<<You wouldn't describe a dungeon as "cretinous">>>

No, but I might describe some 1-star reviews and negative comments as dank and foetid.
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