Book Review of The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud from Tradition to Terror written by Stephen Schwartz
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This book is a highly interesting, sophisticated, and outspoken study of Muslim beliefs and of the sectarian conflicts within that community. Stephen Schwartz, a Jewish historian, presents a sympathetic portrait of mainstream Islam and, in doing so, attempts to expose the origins of Usama bin Ladin's extremism Wahhabism, an austere sect nurtured and supported by the Saudi Arabian government. Throughout the book, the author's background as "a child of California" and "a typical San Francisco student of mysticism" (p. xiv) comes through to provide a highly readable, somewhat eclectic view of the world. To go with this, many of his views appear to be formed in the 1990s from time spent in Albania and the former Yugoslavia. Serb atrocities in Bosnia and Kosovo seem to have accentuated his natural disposition toward Islam, particularly the folk-Islam known as Sufism, much practiced in the Balkans...