Each day The Browser recommends five or six of the best pieces of writing that we can find anywhere online. The more diverse the better.
The Monday Memo reverses that approach. It brings together four pieces of outstanding writing with a common theme.
Today: Islamic State
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Nicholas Pelham | New York Review Of Books | 18th May 2015
Letter from Baghdad. The city "feels uncannily lacking in trauma", despite the consolidation of the Islamic State to the north. The Iraqi army and Shiite militias continue the fight to drive out ISIS and reunify the country. But as the south of Iraq rebuilds and prospers, the chasm with the north widens, and the attractions of formal partition can only grow. Why bleed for a north that is mostly desert and "feuding tribes"? (4,200 words)
What ISIS Really Wants (http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980)
Graeme Wood | Atlantic | 15th February 2015
We are prone to imagine jihadis as being too much like ourselves — they may wear a "medieval religious disguise", but they pursue "modern political concerns". Islamic State is fundamentally different. It is medieval through and through. Its core belief is "a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse" (10,900 words)
Alex Perry | Newsweek | 15th January 2015
Gripping read, horrifying story. Troubled British son of Bangladeshi immigrants feels bored with Britain and torn between cultures, gets seduced by online propaganda from Islamic State, goes to Syria, recruits friends from Britain — and then gets sent into battle and blown in two. "If these were terrorists, they were among the least capable, least experienced and altogether least scary the world had ever seen" (4,000 words)
Juergen Todenhoefer | 22nd December 2014
The headline, for once, understates the story, which consists of notes from ten days as a guest of the Islamic State. More detail to follow. Worth knowing: Islamic State recognises the "religions of the book" — Islam, Judaism, Christianity. They will kill all "moderate Muslims approving of democracy" for putting human laws above God’s laws. Jews and Christians will be tolerated if they pay a tax of "several hundred dollars a year" (1,495 words)
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