This is an interesting but flawed book. It is partly a rant against Islamism, including sideswipes directed at academic experts whom the author considers ‘soft’ on the challenge Islamism poses to liberal values generally. But it also contains an astute analysis of the predicament facing Arab-Muslim societies (and some non-Arab ones as well). With the Middle East in turmoil in the wake of the Arab Spring, the book’s publication is timely. Its arguments deserve an airing, even if they could be used, paradoxically, to support the authoritarian systems that are being challenged or overturned throughout the region.