The Way of the Strangers
Encounters with the Islamic State
“What ISIS Really Wants.” That’s the title of Graeme Wood’s viral Atlantic cover story, which was the most-read piece on the Internet—the entire Internet—in 2015. Its influence on how we understand extremism and radicalization cannot be understated. In keynotes, and in his acclaimed book The Way of the Strangers, Wood gives a far-reaching account of the strategy, psychology, and theology driving the Islamic State.
“Fascinating, terrifying, occasionally blackly humorous.”— Steven Pinker
Graeme Wood is a staff writer at The Atlantic and a journalist in residence at Yale University. His 2015 Atlantic cover story “What ISIS Really Wants” is the most-read story in the history of the magazine. His first book, The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State, has been called a “gripping, sobering and revelatory book” by New Statesman and “the best insight yet into what makes the Islamic State tick” by The Week. “Unlike most journalists writing about Islam today,” writes the New Republic, “there is no partisan axe to grind here, no hidden agenda to subtly advance.” It also received the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction—one of Canada’s highest literary honors. “Meticulously researched and fluidly written,” writes the assessment committee, “this bracing book delves into a contentious facet of contemporary geopolitics.”
As a keynote speaker, Wood addresses the reasons why people—even privileged, comfortable people—are drawn to extremism, and what we can do to prevent and subver toxic ideologies. He also speaks on radicalism here at home, narrowing the spaces between acts of terrorism abroad and those committed by U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. His recent Atlantic profile on Richard Spencer—the ostensible mouthpiece of an emerging white supremacist movement—displays Wood’s ability to expose, examine, and contextualize how ordinary people can become the perpetrators (and victims) of hateful, violent rhetoric.
“This book is a triumph of journalism.”— Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief, The Atlantic
In this talk, Graeme Wood offers a broader and more astute understanding of the Islamic State by answering a number of pressing questions: What is it? Where did it come from and what are its intentions? How does it enlist ordinary western citizens? What does it mean to actually talk and listen to ISIS members? How worried should we be—and what can we do about it?
As one of the world’s foremost experts in ISIS, Wood is the ideal guide to understand the true ideology behind the Islamic State and how we have misunderstood its nature. Drawing from first-hand interviews with extremists, ISIS statements, fatwas, tweets, road signs, and a variety of sources, Wood’s keynote gives us a human-eye-view of a complicated situation, the consequences to date, and our future with this formidable force.