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J. P. Maciag (Peterborough UK)

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The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat (Continuum Compact Series)
The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat (Continuum Compact Series)
by Roger Scruton
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bougainvillia on Mars?, 28 Aug. 2007
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The West and the Rest is a book I have read three times and on each occasion extracted some new realisation. It is a small volume but so packed with civilisational counter-intuitiveness that it will make your head spin.

The most profound insight (that I dwell on almost daily when I listen to the news) is the link between democracy and the nation state. Scruton argues quite persuasively that to have a democracy means starting with a nation that sees itself as one. In other words, democracy is the child of nationhood and not the other way round because, in a democracy, all must agree to abide by the wish of the ruling majority. This is only possible because they trust (a key concept) that the majority have the best interests of all (not just their own) at heart.

A democracy calls for the participants to view each other as partners in a joint and quite specific project with names such as England, Ireland, France, Japan, India, Germany, The U.S, Israel and Australia.

It also demonstrates why these Western Nations have democracy and "the Rest", those places ravaged by factionalism, sectarianism and an understanding only of a greater Ummah never will. It also explains why the EU will never be a democracy and why a Balkanising multiculturalism is such pure poison to nationhood first and democracy second.

Sobering stuff when you see our foolish leadership spending our blood and treasure on "bringing democracy" to some bedevilled place on a map. They might as well be trying to grow bougainvillea on Mars.

They should have read this book!

The Islamist: Why I joined radical Islam in Britain, what I saw inside and why I left
The Islamist: Why I joined radical Islam in Britain, what I saw inside and why I left
by Ed Husain
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

30 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only half of the story?, 19 Aug. 2007
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This book deserves 2 ½ stars. Although an interesting story, there is so much missing that it really constitutes only half of a much better book. Good...but frustratingly incomplete.

The autobiographical tale concerns a UK born Pakistani boy's journey from innocent childhood, through an association with supremacist Islam, and finally back to a gentler version of his faith. Familiar enough these days even though the ending is usually more wasteful. The shocking part of this early journey takes place in a familiar setting full of English locations but somehow transported into a detached realm with Middle Eastern concerns and `brown shirt' morality.

The fuel that drives Husain is the desire to be a better Moslem. That path is convincingly set out for him by those promoting Islam as a world governing political ideology instead of a relationship with any sort of Supreme Being.

That is all credible and scary.

For me, the tale came off the rails when Husain apparently discovered that the fundamentalist version of his faith is not true because it had been contaminated by western thought and philosophy. This is an incredible claim. This idea that fundamentalist Islam has nothing to do with a very close reading of the Qur'an or the Sunnah is the basis of that lazy and well worn, but no less ludicrous mantra, that it is "a religion of peace" hijacked by bad people.

Nevertheless, this stance forms the core of the book. Husain develops a cloudy relationship with the Islamic prophet Mohammad and portrays him as a gentle Christ like a victim. He is a lover of nature and kindness and is nothing like the 7th century warlord of documented history. Husain talks of Mohammad's clemency and somehow leaves out that he was the veteran leader of 78 offensive military actions (the other one being defensive) and personally, amongst other atrocities, supervised the beheading of bound prisoners from the Banu Qurayza tribe following their defeat in battle.

And this is a profound problem if the way to a perfect Islamic life is through the emulation of Mohammad, the "model of exemplary conduct and the prefect man" (uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamal). This is also the problem that Husain cannot or chooses not to confront in the missing second half of his book.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 17, 2010 4:04 PM BST

Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against the West
Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against the West
by Walid Phares
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.99

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye and ear opening, 30 Jan. 2007
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There are an increasing number of books being published about the `War on Terror' from all sides and viewpoints. Many are personal observations and others drive off the central question that many ask...what is actually going on?

This book answers that question with aplomb. It is well written and seeks to tell the story of how Salafist Islamists have deliberately seized the attention of both the wider Islam and the global community to their agenda. The historical narrative is especially useful if you can't tell a Wahabbi from a Khomenist from a Baathist from a hundred other splinters and sub-factions that, nevertheless, retain a common purpose of returning Islam to its origins in fundamentalism, war and conquest.

The book is heavily divided into chapters and sections that make the material easily digestible. The style is very calm, assured and academic and the material content is unsurpassed in its accuracy and scope. In short, if you really want to understand what is going on and what might happen read this book ASAP.

The Suicide Factory: Abu Hamza and the Finsbury Park Mosque
The Suicide Factory: Abu Hamza and the Finsbury Park Mosque
by Sean O'Neill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PC Plod vs. Global Jihad, 18 Jan. 2007
This book is a wonderful although depressing antidote to those that wish to believe that the UK Government knows what it is doing in the fight against Global Jihad.

In essence, this is the story so far, of Abu Hamza (of the hooked hands) and his establishment of a terrorist base right in the middle of north London at the Finsbury Park Mosque. It tells how he got into the UK through deception and how he used British rights and the welfare state to facilitate and fund his enterprise. The book demonstrates how the British authorities knew what Hamza was doing but were hamstrung by a learnt `respect' for Islam and a belief that Hamza was just another crazy foreigner (like Marx) who had no plans for disruptive activities in the UK. They had no concept of the notion of local action as part of global Jihad. Indeed, it was only well after the attacks of 9/11 that the Americans, frustrated with the UK Government inactivity, requested that Hamza be extradited to stand trial in the US. Astonishingly it was in Hamzas defence that the UK authorities began their own prosecution as a means of preventing his trial in the US!

Naturally, Scotland Yard made sure it used only shoeless Moslem police officers to raid the Finsbury Park Mosque.

The joy of this book is less in the overall story, which is quite well known, than in the detailed depiction of the UK authorities utter incompetence in dealing with the obvious threat. It is a very good read and it is very well and clearly written. Is it great literature? I'm not sure, but it certainly is great journalism.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 1, 2010 2:54 PM GMT

America Alone: The End of the World as We Know it
America Alone: The End of the World as We Know it
by Mark Steyn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.99

66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh and cry, 22 Dec. 2006
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Those familiar with Steyn's written style and sense of purpose will enjoy the book even though many of the arguments are already well known. It is good to see them as a whole. He presents a future scenario where the world familiar to us from the later half of the 20th century has been transformed by ideological forces riding on massive demographic transformations.

Europe has an elderly native population living under the influence of a more fecund, self contained and more youthful Islamic community. The Islamic community sees no advantage in honouring the social costs or pensions that the indigenous thought were theirs by right. They also continue the process of common interest with the greater Islamic community instead of the rational, secular and `westernised' world we are accustomed to seeing as the model of all future development.

At the same time, China has suffered a population collapse, Africa is increasingly unable to lift itself from the stranglehold of corruption, tribal conflict and Islamist incursion. Russia too is just a hollow shell due to high mortality, abortion and a very low birthrate. A hollow shell that is being filled by Islamic expansion from the south. With South America continuing as a collection of uncooperative states with no global influence or reach it leaves only North America alone. More specifically, with Canada heading down the European model of self-destruction, it leaves only the United States (and probably Australia) as the last fragile enclave of the liberal, rational and tolerant world built by Christianity and the Enlightenment. Needless to say, the USA is no longer a global super-power.

The most disturbing part of this book is that Steyn does not just paint a scenario from thin air. That could be dismissed as `gloom-mongering'. He describes how that scenario is being constructed right now before our eyes...brick by well-meaning brick. His scenario is not what could happen so much as what will happen if the enlightened world does not change its mental habits and develop confidence and a sense of self-preservation.

I hope that this book is an alarm bell instead of a prediction.

I read this book on a transatlantic flight from cover to cover. I did not sleep or watch any films and it was the quickest flight I have ever been on. Some parts of the book made me laugh but when I finally arrived back in England I just wanted to cry.

The Retreat of Reason: Political Correctness and the Corruption of Public Debate in Modern Britain
The Retreat of Reason: Political Correctness and the Corruption of Public Debate in Modern Britain
by Anthony Browne
Edition: Paperback

51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Precise analysis, 20 Nov. 2006
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It's pretty rare to find a book that hits the nail of its subject with such chilling and brief precision. Read it quickly before it is banned!

Time to Emigrate?
Time to Emigrate?
by Robert Solent
Edition: Paperback

40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deadly amusement, 13 Nov. 2006
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This review is from: Time to Emigrate? (Paperback)
Time to Emigrate? Is not a measured argument for or against leaving Britain. This is an emotional lament by a writer who is saddened by the way his country has changed, largely, for the worse. The underlying energy of the writing is unquestionably angry. But the tone is `post Christmas dinner' avuncular where the sherry proceeds to let out all the disgraceful family secrets in a gentle, opinionated and straightforward manner. It is the heartfelt nature of the advice, observations and opinions that make reading this book akin to overhearing an outrageously candid, politically incorrect and immensely entertaining conversation on a topic of deadly seriousness.

My only complaint is that the pace slows down towards the end of the book as the complexity of the issue is overwhelmed by the writer's obvious personal wish that his son not leave. For that same reason, the book does not come to a simple conclusion. Perhaps this is correct as the decision is, ultimately, a personal one but with thousands of UK nationals leaving daily, this book is certainly food for thought.

The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics without God
The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics without God
by George Weigel
Edition: Unknown Binding
Price: £9.99

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What really is going on in Europe, 6 Jun. 2005
This is an excellent essay about the the undercurrents of contemporary European culture. It explains the direction which the EU's leaders (the 1968 generation) would like to lead the continent despite all the evidence that their destination can only mean destruction of all the values that they themselves hold dear.
They have left Europe's heritage behind and detached themselves both from the peoples and culture that gave the continent freedom and democracy.
The book is an easy read. It is written by a human being who clearly cares!
It is ostensibly written from a US perspective but the author knows his way around the European debate so well that the references to the crisis in Europe as being a US problem are there to only awaken concern across the Atlantic.

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