A scholar’s perspective

Yesterday’s New York Times Magazine contained an article by Noah Feldman on the democratic process in Iraq. Feldman (who is a professor of law at Harvard and an author of note) begins his piece by recognizing the enthusiasm most Americans have for the electoral process.

And what’s a good thing for America must be a good thing for Iraq, no? Not necessarily, says Feldman, who ends his piece with the following sobering statement: “In Iraq, we have tended to think of each election as a benchmark of success; but an election can also be a harbinger of failure.”

The ability to see outside our own cultural box is one of Feldman’s strengths as a writer. It’s one of the things that makes his latest book, “The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State” well worth checking out.

It’s a university press book and not a mainstream title, so it has thus far not received the kind of attention drawn by some of Feldman’s earlier books (such as “After Jihad” and “Divided by God") but it has aroused some controversy, with one critic suggesting that Feldman is promoting Islamic law as “a swell basis” for a theocracy.

Feldman, who has a doctor of philosophy degree from Oxford University in Islamic thought, knows this territory well and writes lucidly on this subject. Agree or not, this is a book of interest.

To see the Monitor’s review of “The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State,” click here.

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