The fourth installment in a projected six-volume set of a cross-religious study of fundamentalism examines the conditions under which a fundamentalist religious organization changes its ideological and behavioral patterns. Not surprisingly, about half the book deals with the Middle East (and another quarter with South Asia). Looking at that regions Jewish and Islamic phenomena, it includes several excellent chapters (notably, by Eliezer Don-Yehiya on the nationalist yeshivas in Israel and by Amatzia Baram on Shii fundamentalism in Iraq).
But the volume's outstanding chapter must be Hugh Robert's subtle and knowledgeable analysis of the fundam entalist Muslim rise in Algeria. Roberts points out t he completely unexpected nature of this development. Not only had fundamentalists long been marginal to Al gerian public life but they played almost no role in the October 1988 riots, which opened up the political system. If, as conventional wisdom holds, fundamental ism gains when populations are prevented from express ing discontent through other channels, why did it gain as Algeria became more pluralistic? Roberts offers a byzantine but convincing explanation: President had li Benjedid encouraged the fundamentalists as a way of cutting down the rivals in his own party. His plans for a hung Parliament, which he could dominate, ended in disaster as the fundamentalist message took hold. Though convoluted, this thesis accounts for the strange success of Algerian fundamentalism.