Hamid argues for a new understanding of how Islam and Islamism shape politics by examining different models of reckoning with the problem of religion and state, including the terrifying - and alarmingly successful - example of ISIS. With unprecedented access to Islamist activists and leaders across the region, Hamid offers a panoramic and ambitious interpretation of the region's descent into violence. Islamic Exceptionalism is a vital contribution to our understanding of Islam's past and present, and its out sized role in modern politics. We don't have to like it, but we have to understand it - because Islam, as a religion and as an idea, will continue to be a force that shapes not just the region, but the West as well in the decades to come.
Shadi Hamid is a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and a contributing writer for The Atlantic. An expert on Islamist movements, he previously served as director of research at the Brookings Doha Center. His first book Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East was named a Foreign Affairs Best Book of 2014. Hamid lives in Washington, D.C.