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  • Louis Venters

Announcing Will McCants's New Book about the Religious Origins of ISIS

William McCants, Ph.D.

My old friend William McCants, a fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy and director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution, has just published his second book, The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State, with St. Martin's Press. The book, based primarily on primary sources in Arabic, both old religious texts and contemprary internal documents from jihadi groups, goes beyond explainig the rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State to explore the particular brand of Islamic millennialism that undergirds its violent ideology.

ISIS is, at root, a religious movement, and if Americans--from policymakers on down--want to understand the current landscape of the Middle East, they need to understand the religious crisis in the Islamic world as much as the region's policial, economic, environmental, and demographic realities. Will is getting some really good press so far, including a fine review in The Economist and an interesting interview on, where he was joined by novelist and columnist David Ignatius.

I haven't seen Will but once since we were Baha'i youth in South Carolina twenty years ago, copies of The Dawn-Breakers under our arms. Even then, it was clear that he was built for exactly this kind of work. I'm delighted to see him make valuable contributions in such an important field, and gratified that they have been so well received. I've ordered a copy of ISIS Apocalypse for my university library, and I'm really looking forward to reading it!

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