cover image The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists

The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists

Charles Kurzman. Oxford Univ., $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-19-976687-1

Kurzman, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, poses a provocative question: given anti-Western sentiment in many parts of the Muslim world and the ease of committing violent acts, why do so very few of the world's billion-plus Muslims turn to terrorism? The author's answers to this intriguing question take the reader through a history of "liberal Islam"%E2%80%94defined as distinctly Islamic discourse about key ideals from Western liberalism such as human rights%E2%80%94a close examination of the role of radical Islam in the Muslim world and the backlash against it; and an exploration of what he calls "radical sheik," or the "cool" factor of Islamist leaders like Osama bin Laden. Impeccably researched, tightly organized, and enriched by his personal experiences in the Middle East, Kurzman's work is a useful primer on the state of the modern Muslim world as well as a solid argument for re-evaluating the threat of terrorism today and our reactions to it. Though some may disagree with his conclusions, in this lucid call for perspective Kurzman has written an important and timely work that should be appreciated by the expert and layperson alike. (July)