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Publisher's Summary

A cosmic war is a religious war. It is a battle not between armies or nations, but between the forces of good and evil, a war in which God is believed to be directly engaged on behalf of one side against the other.

The hijackers who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, thought they were fighting a cosmic war. According to award-winning writer and scholar of religions Reza Aslan, by infusing the United States War on Terror with the same kind of religiously polarizing rhetoric and Manichean worldview, it is also fighting a cosmic war, a war that can't be won.

How to Win a Cosmic Waris both an in-depth study of the ideology fueling al-Qaida, the Taliban, and like-minded militants throughout the Muslim world, and an exploration of religious violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Surveying the global scene from Israel to Iraq and from New York to the Netherlands, Aslan argues that religion is a stronger force today than it has been in a century. At a time when religion and politics are increasingly sharing the same vocabulary and functioning in the same sphere, Aslan writes that we must strip the conflicts of our world, in particular, the War on Terror, of their religious connotations and address the earthly grievances that always lie behind the cosmic impulse.

How do you win a cosmic war? By refusing to fight in one.

©2009 Reza Aslan; (P)2009 Random House

Critic Reviews

"In this provocative and engaging book, Reza Aslan shows why he is one of America's leading analysts of the confusing and frightening forces that confront us. It is Aslan's great gift to see things clearly, and to say them clearly, and in this important new work he offers us a way forward. He is prescriptive and passionate, and his book will make you think." (Jon Meacham, author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Sangho
  • Artesia, CA, USA
  • 10-29-09

Good read but could have been better

This is the second book published by a young reform-minded Islamic scholar Reza Aslan, after his more serious, better articulated one "No god But God" (2006). His latest book seems to me hurriedly written at the request of the publisher who thought the author could say one thing or two on the issues of global terrorism committed in the name of God. I enjoyed the audiobook, but it could have been much better if it had been given more time for more in-depth reflection.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Helpful approach to a difficult subject

Aslan's analysis and breakdown of the various sorts of Islamic movements was quite helpful. I liked it enough that I bought a hard copy so that I can quote it as needed. I am less certain that he has a solution of how to "win" the war, but his statement that refusing to engage in a Cosmic war is the only valid strategy is one that needs to be heard.
His ability to cite Christian scripture and make it sound ominous (a claim to be "washed in the blood" should not be understood as threatening) needs to be understood, I think, against the backdrop of people reading the Qur'an in equally ominous ways. If you focus on the global pronouncements, this book is simplistic. He does not have any simple solutions that are going to bring peace in the war on terror or in any other war. However, the book can be very helpful in sorting out a range of Muslim attitudes.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Great book! Inspiring to fight against radicalism!

Reza Aslan tells a great tale of how contemporary and ancient politics have affected the War on Terror, and how modern politics have affected the people in those countries. He concludes by showing how we can defeat jihad and end the War on Terror. Wonderful book! Highly recommended!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Broadens your perspective

Certainly an interesting look at religion and modernization. Sheds light on psychology, identity, modernization, war, and underlying cultures as they function to shape history.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Insightful & Scholarly

I continue to be amazed by the quality of Reza Aslan's work. He is able to maintain a scholarly objectivity even in subjects that generally evoke passionate discourse.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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This will make you smarter!

This book is remarkably concise and interesting.

Do you know the difference between Islamism and Jihadism? Do you know the differences between what it's like to be Muslim in Europe vs. the United States? I highly recommend this book, especially in the wake of Paris, Brussels, Ankara, Lahore, London, and 9/11.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Pavel
  • Ruse, Bulgaria
  • 12-22-15

A book of understanding

A book about identity, the loss of it and how people forge a new one.

For those who want to understand:
- the social, demographic and cultural specifics that lead to the nuances of the worlds most spread religions
- the origins of some of the terms used widely today - jihadism, fundamentalism,...
- the difference between fundamentalism (not just Islamic) and Islamism
- constructive ideas of countering the "bad-VS-good" mentality spread on both sides of the world
- how radical religious social movements differ from established religious institutions

Overall an insightful listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Love it

Just when I think I couldn't love Reza Aslan more I find a new book by him. I feel lifted up as a Muslim American knowing that my thoughts and beliefs about democracy Islam and international policy have such clear and powerful voice in brother Aslan. Read everything he writes!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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excellent read I enjoyed Reza ' s point of view on

I enjoyed Reza's point of view on very complex and often misunderstood world. Looking at extremism through the eyes of many is important for our global society to continue to grow among each other.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

How to Win a Cosmic War

Thought provoking

3 of 5 people found this review helpful