Michael Cook is professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University. He is the author of Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought and A Brief History of the Human Race, among other books.
This impressive book offers a new approach to answering an old question: why did Islam develop a political profile which paved the way to a 'pull of Islamism,' even turning into militant sectarian conflicts? . . . Cook's highly stimulating and knowledgeable reading of Muslims' use of tradition and his answer to the old question will certainly prompt a new discussion about the genealogy of political Islam. --Reinhard Schulze, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies Profoundly erudite, written with exceptional clarity, and laced with mordant wit. --Ellis Goldberg, Journal of Church and State Enlightening. --Islamic Quarterly This is an impressive work that asks difficult questions and is not afraid to answer them. Cook's sources are extensive and delve deeply into each religious tradition. . . . He skillfully weaves together thinkers from the earliest form of the faith to contemporary schools of though. Readers will be . . . challenged to think critically about the important questions he raises. --Theodore A. Nitz, Fides et Historia Certainly, rich in its use of sources and convincing in its arguments, this book should be widely read and would be very influential. --Maurice Borrmans, Islamochristiana A scholarly tour de force by one of the world's pre-eminent historians of Islam. --William McCants, WallStreetJournal.com In many ways, this work is a culmination of a life dedicated to scholarly research and writing. Ancient Religions, Modern Politics has depth that is uncommon, is presented in a readable format that makes it accessible to non-experts and is recognised for its academic rigor by specialists. . . . Cook presents a text that is accessible for the undergraduate level while at the same time challenging and a useful resource for the graduate level. --Taylor & Francis Online [Cook] presents a panoramic and nuanced overview of political Islam with regard to identity, social values and culture over time. --Sundeep Khanna, Mint Ancient Religions, Modern Politics . . . addresses a vital present-day issue on which many have offered opinions, all unsupported by the historical scholarship that he has been able to apply . . . impregnable scholarship . . . towering work. --Jonathan Benthall, Times Literary Supplement Michael Cook, Winner of the 2014 Holberg Prize