Against Us

Published By: Crown

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Social Science

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Reviewed by Muhammed Hassanali

The introduction of Against Us begins with author Sciutto discovering that his neighbors in the London suburb of Notting Hill are terrorists. It also expresses discordance between the conventional image of terrorists and that of his neighbors.

Each of the remaining chapters profiles a few individuals primarily in the Middle East that oppose American presence in the Middle East or American foreign policy towards the Middle East. As a result, these individuals (and others) are drawn to political camps that oppose the current regime (supported by the United States as in the case of Egypt or Pakistan), or to camps with extremist agendas.

The reader may expect terrorists to be religious fanatics or desperate, and perhaps to be a little crazy. This book turns that image on its head. Those profiled include an electrician in Saudi Arabia who considers himself a Jihadi; a Jordanian college student majoring in marketing who voluntarily went to Baghdad to kill American soldiers; a Christian woman educated in the United States who supports Hezbollah; pro-democracy supporters in Pakistan and Egypt who feel that the United States is more interested in maintaining stability (albeit through dictators) rather than promoting democracy as it claims; British-born terrorists who etched 7/7 in our memories; and people disillusioned with US policy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At first blush, they seem like natural American allies, they are well educated, share American ideals of democracy, have economic opportunities, are not particularly motivated by religion, and love their countries and families. It is revealing to read how and perhaps why they have so much animosity towards the United States.

The reasons why mainstream moderates are subscribing to fundamentalist agendas are numerous and varied. The interviews do reveal that America is viewed as an ideal of sorts, but is also untrustworthy. The paradox engenders awe as well as anti-American sentiments. What is apparent are the difference in worldview between those living in the Middle East and those living in the United States.

The book’s objective is not to analyze the reasons for the hatred or provide policy recommendations, its goal is to merely report the sentiments of those interviewed.

Armchair Interviews says: A summary of interviews that probe the depth of anger toward America and some of the causes.

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