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Weaver, a staff writer for The New Yorker, has a credibility based on her near-decade in Egypt and her insightful and accurate observations. Weaver's portraits of the players and stories of the events that shaped the Egyptian regime's battle with Islamism are accurate and decidedly well done. Her descriptions of Upper Egyptian towns as bastions of Islamism are convincing. The account of those behind the Sadat assassination, the first World Trade Center terrorist incident, and the Luxor massacre are chilling.

Weaver writes with authority on the history of the Muslim Brethren and Al-Jama‘a al-Islamiya. She understands that although seemingly strangled for the time being, the Islamist movement contains an underground movement that is bustling with activity. In other words, what the movement did not accomplish by violence, it continues to accomplish by stealth. As Weaver writes, "Egypt's Islamist militancy has always come in waves, and the decline of one generation has always produced the beginning of a new—and more violent—one." So, it is not a question of whether Islamism will resurface again after years of repression under the Mubarak regime; indeed, it is a question of when. Then, as Weaver puts it, there is "a growing concern that if Egypt ‘goes Islamic,' so could much of the Arab world."

To its detriment, the author's so persistently having sought out Islamist elements gives her book an air of alarmism. And she deals too much with Usama bin Ladin, neglecting developments in Egypt for sixty pages, or nearly one-fifth of the book. While it is hard to deny his connections to Al-Jama‘a al-Islamiya, Weaver writes primarily of its activities outside Egypt.