We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Simply put, Fawaz Gerges is asking for trouble. For his latest book, Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy, the much-published Sarah Lawrence professor and sometime television commentator interviewed “scores of…mainstream and militant Islamists,” some of whom invited him into their own homes. Gerges calls this “an important gesture of trust and warmth.” Though that might be true, at least one recently besieged American government institution might cast a more-than-slightly suspicious eye on such activities. Still, the visits were worth any Stateside hell that Gerges stands to catch. Journey of the Jihadist is—despite the occasionally indulgent feel that comes with its first-person voice—a solid, informative work that traces modern Islamic-extremist violence back to Egyptian origins. “It is not by happenstance that it all started in Egypt,” he writes. “With 70 million people the most populous Arab state and the Muslim world’s cultural and intellectual epicenter, Egypt was the birthplace of the modern jihadist movement, and remains to this day the best place to understand its complexities and locate its fault lines. The movement’s founding fathers were almost entirely Egyptian, as were the authors of many of its defining documents.” Gerges argues, however, that even though the Egyptian insurgence was largely dispatched by the late ’90s, it was the still-fighting “determined minority” left over from that conflict that first laid the groundwork for al Qaeda. Gerges speaks at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Mike Kanin)