In Islamic Exceptionalism, Brookings Institution scholar and acclaimed author Shadi Hamid offers a novel and provocative argument on how Islam is, in fact, "exceptional" in how it relates to politics, with profound implications for how we understand the Middle East. With unprecedented access and drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews with lslamist activists and leaders across the region, Hamid argues for a new understanding of how Islam and lslamism shape politics and how the practice of politics shapes Islam. Despite the hopes of the Arab Spring, ideological and religious polarisation has actually worsened. Divides among citizens aren't just about power but are instead products of fundamental disagreements over the very nature and purpose of the modern nation state. Offering a panoramic and ambitious interpretation of the region's descent into violence, The Last Caliphate is a vital contribution to our understanding of Islam's past and present, and its central role in the struggle over the future of the Middle East.
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.