Interesting and honest tribute to a field of social science in its infancy. Steve Bruce deserves all the credit for giving a clear and sociologically justified account of possible origins of rational manifestations of fundamentalism. Great contrast with eg Bernard Lewis' 1990 'Roots of Muslim Rage', in which he depicted fundamentalism and extremism as an irrational response to threats to and changes in one's livelihood. Very good book, also gives good context by means of Islamic history and contemporary examples of fundamentalism. Must read.
I will start by saying that if I could have given this 3 and a half stars I would have, but unfortunately Amazon doesn't allow for that! I bought this book after reading Richard Dawkins' 'The God Delusion', and being particularly interested by his explanations and examples of fundamentalism, which is possibly an explanation for my reservations about this book. This looks very much at the political, historical and economic roots of fundamentalism, as opposed to how fundamentalism has been implemented (it does look at that too, but much less so than, for example, Dawkins does). This isn't a criticism per se - it certainly enlightened me as to the roots of this phenomenon, which I think is very important as it detracts from the notion that fundamentalists are total psychos! Bruce also succeeds at taking an unbiased approach to its religious foundations - he doesn't work from a theist, atheist or other start point. This said, I feel it is a little dry in parts, especially in the section on Islamic fundamentalism which lists many fundamentalist Islamic groups and it can be hard to keep up. It also slightly has the feel of a college essay on religious politics or the like (albeit a good one!). On balance, well worth a read but could do with some revisions.