Sunday, April 18, 2010

Book Review: Moon-o-theism, Chapter 1

Natan, Yoel. Moon-O-Theism. Vol. 1. 1st ed., 2006.

I'm going to review this book a chapter at a time because, (a) it's an important book, and (b) the author doesn't seem to understand chapters. To me, a chapter is something which can be easily read in one sitting. The first chapter is 322 pages long. My Sitz-Fleisch may be deficient, but that's much longer than my train ride commute. Oddly enough, all of my criticisms of this chapter are about formatting.

First, this book is too short. With such a controversial thesis (which I'll get to below) everything needs to be rigorously documented, which he did, hitting footnote 1777 at the end of the chapter (kudos for using footnotes--I hate in text citations). However, it comes across as a data dump, which means it needs to be rigorously organized. Much more introduction, conclusion, summarizing, etc., all of which would add length to this already imposing tome.

Second, this book is too long. He is much to fond of quoting numerous sources which say approximately the same thing. Paraphrase, followed by a massive footnote, would have been much more helpful.

Third, I think this chapter would have been better organized as a comparative case study. He describes the principles of Jihad one by one, and then provides examples where they play out in practice. This leads to a great deal of repetition, as a single incident, e.g., the 2006 Cartoon Protests, displays multiple characteristics, and is discussed repeatedly. It would have been better to create the theory in the first chapter, and then use subsequent chapters to illustrate how they play out in practice.

And now on to the thesis: the first chapter argues that the violent tendencies of the Jihadists and terrorists are inherent to Islam, and not a later interpretation. An Islamic Reformation, therefor, would lead to more hatred and violence, not less.

This chapter made my blood boil, and unlike some people, I do not like that feeling. I am glad it is past.

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