Empire of Fear: Inside the Islamic State by Andrew Hosken

I did a buddy read for this book, and I’m glad I did.  Given the discussion and enlightenment that followed, I felt like I had a built-in support system to get me through this.  This is one of the two hardest books I’ve ever read.  The other was The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer.  If I’m being honest, this one was easier to read, but it was harder to digest because it’s now.  It’s happening.  And that’s the reason I read this book.  It was uncomfortable in the extreme, and it challenged much of what I knew or thought I knew about Islamic State, the world as a whole, and myself as a person.  To my buddies who read this along with me – Tanja, Paul… you’re the best.  Thank you for your insights and everything else.

The best way to describe this book is that it’s a confrontation.  Hosken is a BBC journalist who spent years on the front lines of this story, so in terms of relevancy and accuracy, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better guide.  How he did it, I’ll never know.  Whatever he gets paid, it’s not nearly enough.

My first thought upon reading the first few pages of this book was, “Oh crap, they really are still fighting the Crusades.”  I was wrong about that, and as an armchair medievalist, I really should know better, but such was the nature of my disbelief.  History records that what the Islamic extremists of old branched out and conquered territories hundreds of years before the Crusades were launched.  Islamic State is doing that.  Their plan was in place, and it was not believed by experts.  Five of their seven points have been executed, on schedule.  Experts still think the other two points are fantasy.  Point six begins in 2016, with total victory scheduled by 2020.  It’s so unthinkable, that it has become human nature to deny even the truth of what’s unfolding.  That’s why this book is so important.  Without venturing into tinfoil hat territory, Hosken makes the case of what’s happened, who pulled it off, what’s coming, why, and how.  And he does it without overstating any of it.  The facts speak for themselves.  He just reports them.

At one point during this read, I shifted gears to really examine what it took to mobilize against the likes of Hitler in World War II, and then I compared it to what’s going on right now.  We should all be ashamed that we’re letting this happen with all the resources at our command.  More than that, the entire Middle East should be ashamed.  The latest statistic I learned at the time of this review is that there are 5 million Islamic moderates enlisted in standing armies right now, and these armies are surrounding the bulk of the extremists, numbering around 30,000.  Even if we generously increase that number to 50,000, that’s still 100 trained, professional soldiers fighting for their home for every 1 terrorist.  That’s not counting US and allied troops and resources.  And yet… these guys are on track with their global takeover and subjugation plan due to the money they funnel through oil, sex slavery, and illegal trade combined with mass media propaganda and a region of people too scared out of their minds to stand and fight.

As I said, this book is a confrontation.  I had to fight it, myself, and my perception of the world at every stage of this.  It was only in stepping back and letting it process that I learned what I needed to learn.  I’m done reading the book now.  I will likely never be done thinking about this topic.  It’s made me rethink the world and my own life.  It needed to happen.  Hosken has put together an incredible service within these pages.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who feels they need to know.  For those who dare not read because it’s scary, I would recommend it even more.  Burying our heads in the sand is not an option.  This book is about as easy as it gets in regards to getting up to speed.

5 stars

empire-of-fear

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