on 12 January 2002
Mark Huband has produced an outstanding piece of writing on the Islamist fundamentalist phenomenon. Although a relatively short book, he explains in commendable detail but great lucidity the developments and currents leading to the Islamist movement, of which Osama bin Laden is now the most infamous protagonist. He covers its manifestations in considerable depth from Afghanistan to Sudan via North Africa and Somalia, and provides one of the best overviews that I have seen in print. The only shame is that the book only covers events up to about 1998.
Although a journalist - and the book contains its share of revealing interviews with some of the key players, Huband steers away from the purely anecdotal approach to understanding a complex phenomenon. Instead, and this is one of his great strengths vis-a-vis many of his contemporaries, Huband writes with the sure touch of an academic or policy analyst, and provides the reader with considerable analysis and insight on all the main Islamist movements. This is not an easy task when dealing with a gamut of organisations ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA), but Huband succeeds, and does so very well.
Highly recommended, this is one of the best books around on the Islamist phenomenon.