Why did I love this book?
Anthropologist Mahmood Mamdani wrote Good Muslim, Bad Muslim shortly after the 9/11 attacks. The book is a rebuttal of the U.S. government’s justifications for the War on Terror and military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, which relied heavily on the inaccurate notion that terrorism is a product of anti-modern passions embedded in Islamic culture. Mamdani uses history as a corrective, illustrating how such “culture talk” has deep roots in European imperialism, and how a violent strand of political Islam emerged from modern anticolonial movements in the Middle East and gained global influence amid U.S. covert military operations in the second half of the Cold War, particularly in Afghanistan. I learn something new every time I reread this fantastic book for my U.S. and International Terrorism history course.