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No. 115 / 2017

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Tim Boxer



Islamism and IslamThe Crisis of Islam

FTER the Cold War, with the demise of the East-West conflict, Francis Fukuyama eagerly posited the end of history. Bassam Tibi begs to differ: The political religion of Islamism seeks a return of history when Islam ruled supreme. It begins with the 22 Arab countries of the Middle East, which are recognized as one Arab nation. All Muslims are considered part of this umma (the worldwide Muslim community). The catalyst for the umma is Islamism, a political religion.

In Islamism and Islam, historian Tibi, a senior scholar of Islamic politics, writes knowledgeably of the rise of Islamism since its beginnings in 1928, and becoming a radical force following the Arab defeat in the Six Day War of 1967. A Muslim raised in Damascus, Tibi is the Koret Foundation Senior Fellow at Stanford University, having previously worked at the University of Gottingen, Cornell, Harvard and the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism. In 2010 he was the Resnick Scholar for the Study of Antisemitism at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Today Islamic civilization is at war with itself. This is due to a deep crisis related to "the lack of democracy combined with unsuccessful development, both attributed to the ruling authoritarian regimes." With the onset of the Arab Spring, we are living in interesting times when popular revolts for democracy are exploding all over the Arab umma. The challenge is to resist the efforts of extreme Islamist forces that attempt to subvert these winds of change in the name of a political ideology guided by jihad. This is not Islam; it is Islamism—big difference. Yale University Press, 340 pages, $30.00 Amazon.com Price: $17.05)


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JournaleseWhat Reporters Are Saying

PEN the new book Journalese and you’ll never watch television or read your daily newspaper with the same mindset again. With this handy book you’ll be able to decipher the news and understand what reporters are talking about when they bring you what’s happening. When a reporter talks loftily about a "defining" moment, he inflates since he’s writing about it.

A reporter writes about "a decades-old" event because he "couldn’t quickly find the date online but remembered granddad talking about it."

What’s with "literally"? That’s journalese for something that actually or truly occurred. "One might assume that anything else in the story not specifically identified as literally is doubtful at best and false at worst."

We all use "attributed" which refers to a quote the authenticity of which a reporter is too busy to verify.

My favorite is "arguably." I didn’t know what it really meant until authors Paul Dickson and Robert Skole explained it in this book. When impossible to substantiate, "arguably" gives reporters the freedom to draw conclusions they wouldn’t dare on their own. No one wants to say "certainly" when such a useful fudge factor is available.

This little dictionary, an eye-opener, will help you avoid obscure journalese in your writing. Main Street Press, paperback, 104 pages, $14.95 Amazon.com Price: $11.66)


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Page Turners

Jeremy Stangroom devotes two pages to each of 50 world-class thinkers and 10 theories in his concise survey of philosophy. This is a wonderful introduction to the philosophers ranging from Pythagoras and Augustine to the metaphysics of Descartes and Spinoza, the psychological insights of Freud and Skinner, social thought of Voltaire and Michel Foucault, political ruminations of Machiavelli and Hayek, educational deliberations of John Dewey and Noam Chomsky, critical speculation of Santayana and Jacques Derrida, and of course the feminine perceptions of Simone de Beauvoir and Kate Millett. Chicago Review Press/Independent Publishers Group, hard cover, 128 pages, Amazon.com Price: $14.95)

NEW KOSHER CUISINE NEW KOSHER CUISINE This is Helen Nash’s third cookbook, subtitled Healthy, Simple & Stylish addresses a health conscious approach to kosher kitchen. With recipes and instruction easy to follow, she opens a wide vista to delicious and zestful victuals to delight the kosher consumer. Even the photographs, by Ann Stratton, are mouthwatering. Really useful is a section of Helpful Tips, such as: Rinse strawberries before removing the stems. Otherwise the berries will become soggy. I didn’t know that. Overlook Press, 366 pages, $35.00 Amazon.com Price: $24.26)

iPAD: THE MISSING MANUALiPAD: THE MISSING MANUAL The Missing Manual series from O’Reilly is a great resource for anyone who wants to take full advantage of all the technical tools of our cyberworld. There’s the iPad you just got. You can do so much with it, yet there are so few instructions in the box. That’s why you need iPad: The Missing Manual. J.D. Biersdorfer, the superior technology columnist I’ve been following in The New York Times for five years, tells all you need to know to get you feeling friendly with your iPad. O’Reilly, soft cover, 384 pages, $24.99 Amazon.com Price: $13.94)

NIKON SPEEDLIGHT HANDBOOKNIKON SPEEDLIGHT HANDBOOK Here is an excellent guide to using your Nikon flash units such as the SB-900, SB-700 and SB-400. St. Louis photographer Stephanie Zettl helps you with the creative and technical sides of photography. She shows you how to direct and shape the lighting so as to add "mood, shape, texture, and color to make your photographs more dynamic and visually interesting." With her book, she’ll show you how to use your flash, modify the light from your flashes, and make your subject look good in different lighting situations. Amherst Media, soft cover, 160 pages, $34.95 Amazon.com Price: $19.76)

YOKO ONO: COLLECTOR OF SKIESYOKO ONO: COLLECTOR OF SKIES As you might expect, this is a lovely paean to a world of love and peace as conceived by Yoko Ono and her martyred husband John Lennon. Nell Beram and Carolyn Boriss-Krimsky have produced a handsome official biography to celebrate the milestone 80th birthday on Feb. 18 of the iconic groundbreaking avant-garde artist. Her entire life is revealed, beginning with her birth to a family of wealth and privilege in war-torn Tokyo. It’s a fascinating journey. Amulet Books/Abrams, 178 pages, $24.95.$49.50 Amazon.com Price: $32.67)


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