Graeme Wood’s Atlantic cover story “What ISIS Really Wants” was the most-read article on the Internet—the entire Internet—in 2015. In it, he delves deep into a group few of us truly understand. And in his keynotes, he asks—and answers—vital questions. What does ISIS actually want? Who are they? And how do they convince ordinary western citizens to take up their cause?
For nearly three years, ISIS has been the face of evil for many westerners. But what do we really know about the group? Wood, in his viral article and forthcoming book, The Way of the Strangers (December 20) presents an inside look at one of the most misunderstood organizations in history. After all, understanding ISIS—strategically, psychologically, and theologically—is the first step in defeating it.
Atlantic Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg calls Wood “America’s foremost interpreter of ISIS as a world-historical phenomenon”—but this expertise isn’t merely academic. An Atlantic national correspondent and a political science lecturer at Yale, Wood traveled as far afield as London, Melbourne, Tokyo, and Norway to track down ISIS converts—and what he found surprised him. Many were otherwise normal, middle-class individuals abandoning lives of privilege for promises of fulfillment. Through first-hand interviews with key players in ISIS circles, Wood paints a surprisingly human, vivid, and eye-opening picture of the Islamic State. Watch his interview with VICE, below, for more.
Beyond his work for The Atlantic, Wood has been a Turkey and Kurdistan analyst for Jane’s, a contributing editor to The New Republic, and books editor of Pacific Standard. His writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The American Scholar, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the International Herald Tribune.
America’s newest enemy is at best an ill-defined one. But Wood, through his speaking and writing, shows us exactly who we’re dealing with.
Look out for The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State, which hits shelves soon. And to truly understand ISIS—its structure, motives, and goals—book Graeme Wood for a keynote by contacting The Lavin Agency, his exclusive speakers bureau.