Graeme Wood on the “Strangers” of the Islamic State

Book review: The Way of the Strangers, by Graeme Wood (Amazon / Book Depository) "Islam began as something strange and it will return to being strange, so blessed are the strangers." -- Sahih Muslim It's difficult to understand much about the extremist ideology of terrorist groups like ISIS, not least because your average non-Muslim doesn't... Continue Reading →

Inside the Investigation that Brought Down Warren Jeffs

Book review: Prophet's Prey, by Sam Brower (Amazon / Book Depository) Private investigator Sam Brower found something unusual in Ross Chatwin, a former member of the the insular Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). Chatwin's case, and Brower's investigation into the religious sect that had excommunicated him, piqued his curiosity like no other investigation had.... Continue Reading →

You Can’t Go Home Again

Book review: Educated, by Tara Westover (Amazon / Book Depository) Not knowing my birthday had never seemed strange. I knew I'd been born near the end of September, and each year I picked a day, one that didn't fall on a Sunday because it's no fun spending your birthday in church..."I have a birthday, same as... Continue Reading →

One Woman’s Story of Life in the FLDS

Book review: Escape, by Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer (Amazon / Book Depository) Instead of playing hide-and-seek as children, we played Apocalypse. When I saw that Rachel Jeffs, daughter of Warren Jeffs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was releasing a memoir, Breaking Free, I figured I should tackle some of the other FLDS memoirs I've... Continue Reading →

Dispatches from an Occupied Land

Book review: The Raqqa Diaries: Escape from Islamic State, by Samer, translated by Nader Ibrahim Samer (not his real name) is a Syrian hoping to begin his studies when Assad's regime is overthrown and the Islamic State (referred to here as Daesh, another of its names) rolls into the country, taking Raqqa as a de facto capital.... Continue Reading →

Children of the Cult

Book review: The Sound of Gravel, by Ruth Wariner (Amazon / Book Depository) After reading and watching Going Clear last year, Lawrence Wright's detailed expose on Scientology, I've been fixated on reading about extremist religions, especially those verging on the cultish. Seeing Bill Maher's documentary Religulous around the same time further fueled this: I loved seeing him use his trademark cynicism coupled... Continue Reading →

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