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On Reza Aslan’s “Believer”

Last month, I wrote an essay for NewYorker.com about Reza Aslan’s new CNN show, “Believer.” Here’s the first paragraph with a link to the rest of the piece. In other news, I’m on my way to Lebanon this evening to attend the School of Mamluk Studies’ annual conference, which is being held this year at the … Continue reading

Assad and ISIS

A veteran journalist, Roy Gutman, has written a series of three articles for the Daily Beast with the suggestive titles, “Assad Henchman: Here’s How We Built ISIS” (part 1); “How Assad Staged Alqaeda Bombings” (part 2); and “How ISIS returned to Syria” (part 3). The gist of the series is that the Assad regime was complicit … Continue reading

Aoun and the Future

A couple of years ago, shortly before the end of President Michel Sleiman’s term in office, I wrote an essay asking why Lebanon needed a President, given the relative powerlessness of the position. Here’s the payoff paragraph: Twenty-five years after Ta’if inaugurated Lebanon’s Second Republic and nearly nine years after the Syrian departure gave us a new, mysterious set … Continue reading

The Geography of Small Places

Hello, everyone. This blog has been a little sleepy for the past year or so, as I’ve wrapped up the long-running book projects that have kept me so preoccupied. With those now off my desk, I thought I’d try turning the crank and seeing if everything still runs here the way it used to. Here’s … Continue reading

What is Islam? A Review

A significant new book by my late professor, Shahab Ahmed, was recently published by Princeton University Press.  The book is entitled What is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic, and I have written a review and a profile of its remarkable author for The Nation. The first few paragraphs are below, followed by a link to the rest of the … Continue reading

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