The book’s full title, The Fight of Our Lives: Knowing the Enemy, Speaking the Truth & Choosing to Win the War Against Radical Islam by William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn, provides an ambitious outline for a 149 page book.
William and Seth begin with Dr. Nidal Hasan and the Fort Hood massacre on November 5th, 2009 where 13 Americans “plus an unborn child” were slain in a readiness center awaiting deployment. This event is used strategically throughout the book as the authors provide a sort of crime scene investigation of how such a tragedy was made possible. The authors do a superb job of documenting Hasan’s attack and what lead up to it. And their analysis, which provides the foundation for the book, is that the United States has lost focus on the fight against radical Islam brought to our shores most vividly on September 11, 2001.
The authors then spend the rest of the book making the argument that we as individuals and as a nation should take the threat of radical Islam more seriously. Along the way they examine how we got to our present state of political correctness about the nature and history of Islam. How politicians on both sides of the aisle have not helped, and in many cases have actually ended up hurting us. And finally, the authors do a great job explaining how the “religion of peace” is not very peaceful and, in their words, in need of radical reform.
While there is much to praise this book for, I am afraid that if the author’s intent is to do more than throw red meat to an audience that is already convinced that Islam poses a threat to the world they have missed their mark.
While I am by no means a fan of Obama I cringed when the authors took the position that his administration had done nothing to aid the Iranian protests in 2009. The fact of the state department requesting social media sites like twitter to keep their servers up was never mentioned. And the author’s take on the “Ground Zero Mosque” crossed the line into a call for blatent and unfair discrimination. While they did acknowledge that the Ground Zero Mosque could be built legally (pg. 51), they later seem to cross themselves by stating:
In any event, the lawful governments of New York City and the United States permitted the building of that mosque while public opinion in America opposed it. -pg 133
However even if we set the civil liberties issue aside for a moment, the book still comes up short when it comes to the author’s analysis of Islam as an ideology and politically.
The Koran is never quoted and the founder, Mohammad, is never mentioned. Instead we are given a chapter where the authors call for a reformation in Islam. What? A call for reformation only works if there is something to reform and a basis for that reform in the first place. It seems the authors fall into the same trap of considering Islam a reformable religion of peace they rightly accuse both Bush and Obama of.
And Islam’s history in countries other than the US or countries the US is directly involved in military action with and against are never mentioned. A much better case could have been made for the reality of the threat Islam poses if the authors had branched out a bit more. Instead the author’s failure to address Islam’s history make the book appear rather myopic in it’s scope.
Overall I wouldn’t recommended this book. For those who already agree with the authors it is simply a waste of time and for those who don’t it is unlikely to provide a persuasive and nuanced argument.
So while the book may be bold, and while the subject matter may desperately need to be addressed, I don’t think this book lives up to its title.