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A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West Hardcover – May 4 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (May 4 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151014183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151014187
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.1 x 2.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #588,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

“Intriguing . . . a tirelessly researched investigation”—Kirkus Reviews “I thought I knew something about blowback. But Ian Johnson has unearthed an extraordinary episode of disastrous American judgment that begins well over half a century ago, whose full consequences we've not yet seen. It's a chilling piece of history few people know, and he tells the story with a novelist's skill.” —Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold's Ghost “Ian Johnson is more than a brilliant journalist and tireless researcher; he is a writer of the first rank. His story of an extraordinary Muslim community in Germany is instructive, enlightening, and beautifully done.”—Ian Buruma, author of Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance “Johnson's literary sensibility gives life to this amazing period, with a cast of characters ranging from exiled Uzbeks to suave CIA agents with a taste for nudist camps. Along the way, he shows how the battle against Communism unwittingly contributed to the development of today's terrorist organizations.”—Peter Hessler, author of Oracle Bones

About the Author

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Ian Johnson is also the author of Wild Grass: Three Portraits of Change in Modern China

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 36 reviews
38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Eurostan, A History May 11 2010
By David Bower - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
For me, this book was a very slow read; it's not that the book is boring because it most assuredly is not boring. The book is, however, very detailed in its descriptions of people, places and events. It describes in great detail the development of Islam in Europe and the important place the Mosque in Munich had as a center of this development.

After the "Contents" page, one encounters a two page "Cast of Characters" section that identifies the persons to be encountered in the book divided into four groups, "The Main Actors, The Americans, The Germans, and The Muslim Brotherhood." At first I wondered why the author placed that information right at the beginning of the book; after reading the first few chapters I found myself grateful to the author for his thoughtfulness.

The level of detail I found in this book was intimidating and very humbling; most of the information presented was entirely new to me, but concerned things that have profoundly affected the United States since the late 1930's and continue to influence world events even now.

This book traces the development of the Muslim influence in Europe from the Second World War, and the establishment, growth and eventual dominance of the Muslim Brotherhood in what is now called the European Union.

The creation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt by Sheikh al-Banna is described along with the world view espoused by the group. The author writes on pages 109-110: "Banna subscribed to the Koran's message that there is no division between state and religion, which was expressed in the group's most famous slogan: THE KORAN IS OUR CONSTITUTION. JIHAD IS OUR WAY. MARTYDOM IS OUR DESIRE. In one tract, he wrote, "If someone should say to you `This is politics!' say: `This is Islam and we do not recognize such divisions.'" In another he said, "O ye Brethren! Tell me, if Islam is something else than politics, society, economy, law, and culture, what is it then? Is it only empty acts of prostration, devoid of a pulsating heart?"

Again on page 201 the author writes: "Europe, once outside the Muslim world, became central to its future. And the Brotherhood, after years of laborious organizational work, was suddenly poised to lead it."

The conquest of Europe this time was to be demographic and ideological, the Europe of old which had been "Dar al-Harb, or House of Infidels" (elsewhere translated as "the abode of war") was becoming "Dar al-Islam, or House of Islam." On page 206 the author writes: "Whether through luck or brilliant foresight, the Brotherhood was already firmly planted in the West just as this historical transformation was taking place."

This book is a serious effort to explain the origins, development, methodology, strategies, and tactics of the coming Muslim domination of Europe. It is reasonable to assume that the United States is being subjected to that same process, although we are not so far along in our transition from Dar al-Harb to Dar al-Islam.

For those who wonder why the European Union seems to be in the process of becoming Eurostan, or what is going on today between the Western Nations and Islam; this book provides many answers. It is at the same time challenging yet very rewarding to read; I am very glad I read it!
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Important, Disturbing, Worthwhile April 10 2010
By HeyJudy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
A MOSQUE IN MUNICH is not an easy book to finish, but it is an important one.

While author Ian Johnson never reveals the basis of his interest in this subject, nor the foundation of his obvious expertise, he shares a significant cautionary tale. Any person who finds the text too disturbing to consider is tantamount to that famous ostrich burying its head in the sand.

Carefully, patiently, Johnson leads his readers through the history of Muslim activism in the 20th Century.

The post-Revolutionary Soviets abused their sizeable Muslim minority, setting the way for Soviet Muslims to be lured into the anti-Soviet movement that existed in Nazi Germany.

After World War II ended, it was this same group of Muslims who did not want to be returned by the Allies to their counterparts in the Soviet Union where, almost certainly, they would have been executed as traitors.

By this point, the unofficial "cold war" between the Americans and Soviets had begun. The Americans, in the form of the precursor organization of the CIA, decided to use these former Nazi soldiers -- Nazi soldiers who had begun as Muslim residents of the Soviet Union -- in the same way that the Nazis had attempted to use them, to infiltrate the Communist state.

Of course, no foreign power used these Muslims. They always had their own agenda to further the cause of Islam in ways that now have become well-known in the contemporary world. They willingly accepted funding from Western powers but they had no interest in, or loyalty to, the goals of the country or countries funding them. This probably is equally true of the countries which provided the funding: Reciprocally, these were self-serving relationships.

All of this intrigue culminates in post-War (World War II) Munich. A former German Nazi formulates a plan to build a Mosque in order to organize and control his former Muslim colleagues in the attempt to challenge the Soviets, as well as to ingratiate himself with the American victors.

It was during the early years of the Cold War when the Americans took over this operation, at first working with that former Nazi. Two adages present themselves here: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" and "Politics makes strange bedfellows."

Today, much of Muslim activism comes out of this Mosque in Munich, which took decades to be built.

The CIA also discovered -- too late! -- that its Muslim taskforce did not share its own goals. It was funding by the Western powers which enpowered the large-scale and organized movement of what would become the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement which is a mainstay of this "Mosque in Munich."

The Brotherhood is widely accepted to be antagonistic toward the West in the most deadly manner; it is a catalyzing force in encouraging Islamic terrorists. (Apparently, they prefer the term "Islamist" rather than "Islamic," distinguishing between the two.)

The Soviets, the Nazis, and the non-Soviet Allied powers, in turn, may have thought that they were controlling these people, but the Muslims never were their puppets. It is impossible to read Johnson's book without wondering how events would have transpired without the backing and manipulation of the groups which deluded themselves into thinking that they were in charge.

A MOSQUE IN MUNICH is an important work and Ian Johnson is to be complimented.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
An Interesting Perspective Upon the Rise of Islam in Western Europe April 7 2010
By hasselaar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This book presents a most interesting view into the beginnings of the Islamist movement in West Germany after WWII. It describes the beginning of the Islamist movement as it relates to the Muslim soldiers placed into special NAZI units during the war, with an emphasis upon the flowering and blooming of coordinated Musilm groups in Germany (particularly Munich) after hostilities ceased.

There is a very good description of the the beginning of an Islamic movement in Munich, related to the massive influx of all types of refugees and Displaced Persons after wars end. Explored are the NAZI connections to the stoking of the Muslim flame and how the Germans used entire Muslim units during the war to fight the Russians,and later, to fight the propaganda war against the Communists. After the war, several high-ranking NAZI's were in positions of power in the government of West Germany, now fighting a different ideological war - the Cold War. The author emphasizes the conflicting enterprises supported by the US (CIA) and West Germany after the war to further expand their ranks to be used in the propaganda battles of which the Cold War was comprised.

An unmentioned or briefly dwelt-upon subject in past books, the author summons a prodigious complexity of facts (some only recently made available by the Freedom of Information Act) in the most compelling possible manner. This allows for the understanding of just how certain Islamic groups began their rise to power, with Germany and the US unwittingly birthing a new brand of fundamentalism. Most of the story hinges upon the building of the first mosque in Munich and the international cast contributing both financially and ideologically to the rise of this one building,which represents the Muslim countries as a whole. A superb cast of characters is summoned to aid in the understanding of the complexities arising from Muslim-CIA and W. German manipulations of Muslim leaders of the time, all to battle Communism. Looking back, it makes one shudder to realize that these various machinations inevitably led to some of the most monstrous occurrences of modern times (911, Iraqi War, Afghan War, etc.)

This book is highly recommended as a near textbook revelation of the origins of fanatical, Islamic fundamentalism. It is written in a rather stark and factual manner, which renders forth information in a most stark and ominous manner. Highly Recommended!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
More Cold War than War on Terror April 16 2010
By J. A. Walsh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Johnson begins his story by describing the impetus for his research and writing: the discovery that one of the world's largest mosques was located in Munich. How? And...why?

He did a lot of research with recently declassified material to get at the first question: how did this happen? In that sense, the book is a great up-close look at the Cold War from a new and relatively unexplored angle. Johnson spends much of the first half of the book laying out the players on both the US and Soviet intelligence teams who worked - largely through an evolving strategy of creating NGOs - to recruit and retain Muslim "free agents" who hailed from former Soviet republics and had been turned against the USSR during the war by the Nazis.

He spends a lot of time on the propaganda efforts and the men who were crafting them. The critical insight comes about 60 pages in when Johnson notes that US success with this progam inside the USSR was limited by the Nazi taint that so many of these Caucasian and Central Asian former Soviets were under. The result: the US went looking for "more credible Muslims among radical groups."

This gave rise to American involvement with groups throughout Europe in the 60s and 70s, and was - in many ways - the beginning of US movement toward surreptitious support of radical groups, from the ouster of the Shah to support of the mujahideen in the Soviet-Afghan War. The putative payoff is the link to the 9/11 hijackers and Al Qaeda, but Johnson never really makes a strong connection to complete that arc.

The book is a very good, nitty-gritty, post-WWII Cold War examination that lives in the same milieu as The Good German and the Good Shepherd in film. I just don't think it ever delivers on making the connection to today's wars. Further, it is a chronicle and not a policy commentary. Aside from that observation about American intelligence strategy earlier, there are few moments where the reader is treated to the realization turnign point moments in American foreign policy.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
History Revealed July 22 2010
By Educ8NC - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I have to echo the many other reviewers that found this book a bit slow to read and cumbersome with details, but it is necessary to weave the historical premise together in order for the reader to understand what the author is revealing.

This book is a fascinating look at history and highlights how very different the ideals of a free people are to that of the Muslim Brotherhood where the belief that the Koran is the Constitution serves as a motto. This book will absolutely blow your mind and you will wonder how this information was never compiled in the past.

This was very tough investigative work for the author and I think he did an amazing job of putting it all together, helping the reader to understand who the "players" in the book are as well as the long term ramifications of the turn of historical events.

This is the type of book that you will need to set aside time when you are able to focus, maybe even highlight or take notes in the margin, and read through without putting down for more than a day or two, otherwise you'll have to go back to refresh your memory of who the characters are and how they are related.


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