I picked this book up because I’d seen an interview with the author on the Daily Show. It was an interesting interview, and he seemed very articulate and knowledgeable, and since this seems to be my year to learn about Islam, I short listed this to the top of my Amazon wishlist.
The book is a concise history of Islam, and includes descriptions of the Shia and Sufi traditions. I liked that this book talked about contemporary Islam. Most of my prior reading has been in a historical context, so it was very interesting to read about the various ways Islam is practiced today. It was also interesting to read about the various ways it is factored into national governments in the Middle East.
The author is himself a Muslim, but wrote this book from an objective, scholarly viewpoint that moved the book along well. I’ve come away from this book with a new appreciation for the nuances of the Islamic world, and a fresh appreciation of exactly what is happening in the Middle East today.