Dogs: A Philosophical Guide To Our Best Friends by Mark Alizart

The Blurb On The Back:

Man’s best friend, domesticated since pre-historic times, a travelling companion for explorers and artists, thinkers and walkers, equally happy curled up by the fire and bounding through the great outdoors: dogs matter to us because we love them.  But is that all there is to the canine’s good-natured voracity and affectionate dependency?

Mark Alizart dispenses with the well-worn cliches concerning dogs and their masters, seeing them not as submissive pets but rather as unexpected life coaches, ready to teach us the elusive recipes for contentment and joy.  Dogs have faced their fate in life with a certain detachment that is not easy to understand.  Unlike other animals in a similar situation, they have not become hardened, nor have they let themselves die a little inside.  On the contrary, they seem to have softened.  This book is devoted to understanding this miracle, the miracle of the joy of dogs – to understanding it and, if at all possible, learning how it’s done.

Weaving elegantly and eruditely between historical myth and pop-culture anecdote, between the peculiar views of philosophers and the even more bizarre findings of science, Alizart offers us a surprising new portrait of the dog as thinker – a thinker who may perhaps know the true secret of our humanity. 

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The Way Of The Strangers: Encounters With The Islamic State by Graeme Wood

The Blurb On The Back:

Graeme Wood’s The Way Of Strangers is a riveting, intimate journey into the minds of the Islamic State’s true believers, one which up-ends our understanding of their psychology, character and aims.

From the streets of Cairo to the mosques of London to the suburbs of Melbourne, Wood, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, interviews supporters, recruiters and sympathisers of the world’s most infamous jihadist group.  We meet an Egyptian tailor who once made bespoke suits for Paul Newman and now wants to live under Sharia; a garrulous Australian convert who translates the group’s sermons and threats into English; and a self-taught Muslim cleric who is now determined to see America, the nation of his birth, drenched in blood.  Drawing on insights from a wide spectrum of Islamic scholars, Wood explores the group’s apocalyptic dogma and the theology that influences its expansionist project.

The Islamic State is bent on murder and apocalypse, but its recruits find meaning and fellowship in a utopian dream.  This appeal of the Islamic State is key to understanding it – and predicting what its followers will do next.

With on-the-ground reporting, vivid character studies and clear-eyed analysis, The Way of Strangers uncovers a movement that has inspired tens of thousands of people to abandon or uproot their families.  It will shape how we see a new generation of terrorists.  

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Is Islam An Enemy Of The West? by Tamara Sonn

The Blurb On The Back:

New York, Washington, Madrid, London, Paris, and Brussels – the list of Western cities targeted by radical Islamic terrorists waging global jihad continues to grow.  Does this extreme violence committed in the name of Islam point to a fundamental enmity between the Muslim faith and the West?

In this compelling essay, leading authority on Islam Tamara Sonn argues that whilst the West has many enemies among Muslims, it is politics not religion that informs their grievances.  The longer these demands remain frustrated, the more violence has escalated and recruitment to groups like Islamic State has increased.  Far from fuelling the spread of Islamic extremism, Western military intervention has helped to turn nationalist movements into radical terrorist groups with international agendas.  Islam, Sonn concludes, is not the problem, just as war is not the solution.   

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