How to Win a Cosmic War

God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror

By Reza Aslan
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400066728, 256pp.)

Publication Date: April 21, 2009

Other Editions of This Title: Compact Disc

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Description

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, is also fighting a cosmic war–a war that can’t be won.

How to Win a Cosmic War is both an in-depth study of the ideology fueling al-Qa‘ida, 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.




About the Author

Reza Aslan is assistant professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, and Senior Fellow at the Orfalae Center for Global and International Studies at U.C. Santa Barbara. His first book, No god but God, has been translated into thirteen languages and was short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award.




Reviews from AltWeeklies.com
From Jackson Free Press, Jackson, Mississippi

Casual readers may view How to Win a Cosmic War, the second book by acclaimed religious scholar Reza Aslan, as a defense of Islam. In part, this is an accurate assessment.




Praise For How to Win a Cosmic War

"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

“‘Terror’ is never going to show up with a pen to sign a peace treaty ending the "War on Terror." The use of that phrase has created a black hole into which serious talk about serious topics—including, by all means, Islam but also Christianity and Judaism--has disappeared. Reza Aslan's elegant, incisive book breaks the spell cast by "the emperor's new talk" and signals that the conversation the world has been waiting for may at last be about to begin.”—Jack Miles, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of God: A Biography

"Reza Aslan's is an indispensable voice with an urgently needed message. His book reaches across a world chasm that too many regard as unbridgeable - with balance, eloquence, and rare wisdom."—James Carroll, author of Constantine's Sword and Practicing Catholic

“Reza Aslan’s How To Win A Cosmic War hovers confidently over a vast historical terrain, landing where it must to explore how common and terrible apocalyptic thinking is—how it plagues every religious tradition, every inspired nationalism, and cannot be defeated with brute force, upon which it thrives. A unique primer for pragmatic leaders whose patient enlightenment is the real antidote to terror.”—Bernard Avishai, author of The Hebrew Republic and The Tragedy of Zionism

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