cover image The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam

The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam

Eliza Griswold, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-374-27318-7

Award-winning journalist Griswold chronicles her travels along the 10th parallel, the line of latitude 700 miles north of the equator and home to many Christian-Muslim standoffs. Griswold does her best to counter the received wisdom of interfaith fighting by astutely pointing out where religion is simply used as a tactic in a nonreligious conflict over land, resources, or the like. As examples of war-rejecters, multifaith, and environmental advocates, the author introduces many organizations and individuals with hopes for peace, such as the Nigerian pastor, who, in addition to working with a Muslim imam to stop fighting between their communities, also distributes green stoves that burn less wood, thereby preventing further deforestation and possibly inter-religious fighting over land rights. The reader also meets Nigerian Christian warriors, quasi-military Filipino Catholic gangs, and Indonesian jihadis who sell herbal cures door-to-door to raise funds. Though not a scholar of Islam, Griswold has a profound grasp of the misinterpretation and manipulation of Islam. Her insight that no single, unified sharia (Islamic law) exists is a conclusion that has eluded more celebrated authors; among other perceptions, she notes that Islam was spread more by intermarriage than the sword. Always maintaining a journalist's objective view, Griswold, a published poet, nevertheless enchants the reader with her lush, flowing prose. (Aug.)