Oct. 2, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Fiction, Nonfiction Explore Aftermath of 9/11

In the years after 9/11, Islam has reached a greater prominence in the national dialogue. Shariah law and mosques have grown commonplace in political lexicon. But the experts Roll Call spoke with said that, like any controversial topic, misinformation about Islam is all too common. As a remedy, Patel suggested reading Sedgwick’s book, which he described as “one of the best introductions to Islam.”

Sedgwick, a British historian, based much of this overview of Islam and modern Muslim society on his own experiences living in the Middle East. 

“Sedgwick provides appropriate detail on Islamic history and doctrine for a general reader while covering an enormous range of topics,” Patel said. “The discussion on what Shariah is, and what it is not, is particularly clear and relevant. Readers will also pick up basic facts, like the difference between Arabs and Muslims, and come to appreciate the diversity of Islamic practice today.”

 

“Wasp” 

by Eric Frank Russell

Even though it was published in 1957, Betts believes we can learn a lot about the reaction to the 9/11 attacks by reading this science fiction novel. It’s about “an agent in a future war who infiltrates an enemy planet, uses anonymous violent incidents, rumor-mongering and other guerrilla/terror/asymmetric tactics with ripple effects to wreak psychological havoc on the planet’s population,” Betts said. 

Betts even used a passage from the book as an epigraph for an article he wrote a few months after the 2001 attacks. In his epigraph, Betts cited lines from the novel such as, “In given conditions, action and reaction can be ridiculously out of proportion” and “One can obtain results monstrously in excess of the effort.”

Betts sees a parallel between the effect one relatively weak party had on a more powerful group and the effect al-Qaida had on the United States. 

“This seems to me to illustrate the comparative advantage of weak terrorists against a strong society,” he said.

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