Synopses & Reviews
Defying foreign government orders and interviewing terrorists face to face, a young American tours hostile lands to learn about Middle Eastern youthand uncovers a subculture that defies every stereotype.
Classrooms were never sufficient for Jared Cohen; he wanted to learn about global affairs by witnessing them firsthand. During his undergraduate years Cohen travelled extensively to Africaoften to wartorn countries, putting himself at risk to see the world firsthand. While studying on a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford, he took a crash course in Arabic, read voraciously on the history and culture of the Middle East, and in 2004 he embarked on the first of a series of incredible journeys to the Middle East. In an effort to try to understand the spread of radical Islamist violence, he focused his research on Muslim youth. The result is Children of Jihad, a portrait of paradox that probes much deeper than any journalist or pundit ever could.
Written with candor and featuring dozens of eye-opening photographs, Cohens account begins in Lebanon, where he interviews Hezbollah members at, of all places, a McDonalds. In Iran, he defies government threats and sneaks into underground parties, where bootleg liquor, Western music, and the Internet are all easy to access. His risky itinerary also takes him to a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon, borderlands in Syria, the insurgency hotbed of Mosul, and other frontline locales. At each turn, he observes a culture at an uncanny crossroads: Bedouin shepherds with satellite dishes to provide Western TV shows, young women wearing garish makeup despite religious mandates, teenagers sending secret text messages and arranging illicit trysts. Gripping and daring, Children of Jihad shows us the future through the eyes of those who are shaping it.
“A riveting read from start to finish.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Children of Jihad is a very smart, insightful account of a young Jewish- American (and rhodes scholar) trying to understand his generation across the line in the middle east.”
— Tom Brokaw, NBC Universal
"This young gutsy writer knows that the East-West struggle is being fought over the cafe tables of the Near and Middle East. Do the youth of the Islamic world dream of an engineering degree from Michigan State or a martyrs death? This young American has had the moxie to sit and listen for hours at those tables. In the words of the poet, Jared Cohen has taken the road "less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
—Chris Matthews, Host of MSNBC's Hardball and NBC's The Chris Matthews Show
"Jared Cohen has written a unique book. Imagine a young American circulating in the back alleys and cafes of Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Palestinian refugee camps, and Iraq meeting other youth on their terms and asking pointed questions about their aspirations, concerns and attitudes toward their rulers and toward the United States. There are breathtaking descriptions of flirting with danger and fascinating dialogues that provide deep insights into the politics and sociology of four key countries in the Middle East. It is a fascinating read which I recommend to anyone who wants to develop a better understanding of the [Middle East] and Arab world."
— Frank Carlucci, Former Secretary of Defense
"An enlightening and entertaining story that is part travelogue and part cultural analysis. Gaining insights through simple conversation, Cohen paints a compelling picture of the politically awakened youth of the Middle East."
—Zbigniew Brzezinski, Former National Security Advisor
"In this remarkable book Cohen provides a fresh perspective on the Middle East. Seen through the eyes of the youth, and poignantly describing their hopes and despairs, Cohen provides a timely commentary on the troubled relations between America and the Middle East. Looking at the habits and passions that binds the youth across the cultural divide as well as the politics that which divides them this book provides much food for thought for Americans and Middle Easterners alike."
—Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam will Shape the Future
"Children of Jihad succeeds at breaking down some inaccurate generalizations and replacing them with more accurate generalizations, and it does a good job of humanizing Middle Eastern youth by telling their individual stories"
"An important book to read."
— Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC Morning Joe
"I admire Jared Cohen's courage, vigor and insight. He has been a wonderful source of information and understanding about Iran, particularly youth attitudes and ideals. His advice is helpful in fostering better relations, better public diplomacy and progress toward greater democratic freedoms and openness in Iran."
—Senator Richard Lugar, Ranking Member on Senate Foreign Relations Committee
“Cohens chronicle is fine fieldwork for students of the Middle East”
Defying foreign government orders and interviewing terrorists face to face, a young American tours hostile lands to learn about Middle Eastern youth--and uncovers a subculture that defies every stereotype. Eight-page b&w photo insert.
Defying foreign government orders and interviewing terrorists face to face, a young American tours hostile lands to learn about Middle Eastern youth? and uncovers a subculture that defies every stereotype
In 2004, Jared Cohen embarked on the first of a series of incredible journeys to the Middle East in an effort to understand the spread of radical Islamist violence among Muslim youth. The result is Children of Jihad, a portrait of paradox that probes much deeper than any journalist or pundit ever could.
Chosen as one of Kirkus Review?s Best Books of 2007, Cohen?s account begins in Lebanon, where he interviews Hezbollah members at, of all places, a McDonald?s. In Iran, he defies government threats and sneaks into underground parties, where bootleg liquor, Western music, and the Internet are all easy to access. His risky itinerary also takes him to a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon, borderlands in Syria, the insurgency hotbed of Mosul, and other front-line locales. At each turn, he observes a culture at an uncanny crossroads. Gripping and daring, Children of Jihad shows us the future through the eyes of those who are shaping it.
About the Author
After witnessing the awful aftermath of decades of sectarian aggression and radical Islamist violence, Jared Cohen decided that he must go to the Middle East to better understand the phenomenon. After extensively studying Arabic and the history of the Middle East, he journeyed into the region and reached out to the youth in the area, putting himself in danger in order to understand their culture and views on government, Israel, and America. Children of Jihad is Cohens account of his travels and interviews with the people he met.
In September 2006, he was named the youngest member to the Secretary of State's Policy Planning Staff, where he focused on counter-terrorism, counter-radicalization, and Middle East/North Africa issues. Prior to his work at the State Department, Cohen received his BA from Stanford University and continued his education at the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. Currently, he is the director of Google Ideas and is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He also serves as a member of the National Counterterrorism Centers Directors Advisory Board.
Jared Cohen is also the author of One Hundred Days of Silence and most recently co-authored The New Digital Age, with Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google.