9,807 book reviews and counting...

The Caravan Reviews

The Caravan by Thomas Hegghammer

The Caravan

Abdallah Azzam and the Rise of Global Jihad

Thomas Hegghammer

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 5 Mar 2020
ISBN: 9780521765954

The much-awaited book about Abdallah Azzam, one of the jihadi movement's most important figures. It explains why jihadism went international in the 1980s, paving the way for the events of 9/11. Azzam's extraordinary life story makes for compelling reading and should appeal to readers far outside specialist circles.

5 stars out of 5
17 May 2020

"evidence-based, meticulous and full of carefully judged distinctions – recent history at its finest"

Thomas Hegghammer’s meticulously researched story of the life, times and significance of Azzam is the opposite of a hagiography, as is to be expected from a renowned scholar. His main argument is that Azzam was responsible for internationalising jihad by interpreting it theologically as a duty. That was at odds with Muslim Brotherhood ideologues who preached domestic opposition to autocratic secular regimes like Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Libya. But it was the repressive character of those regimes, he also argues, that made jihad “go global”.


4 stars out of 5
2 Apr 2020

"Hegghammer never loses sight of Azzam’s impact on the present day"

The Caravan makes a number of very useful historical arguments with powerful resonance today. The most important perhaps is Hegghammer’s rigorous and impartial deconstruction of the myth that the US trained, or even created, the international legion of Islamic militants who fought in Afghanistan (among them Osama bin Laden) and then, once Moscow had withdrawn its troops, turned on their supposed erstwhile sponsors. This “blowback” theory has been so often cited that it is often accepted without interrogation. Hegghammer shows it to be – largely – bogus.