Book look: Schöllgen & Schirra

University Erlangen historian Gregor Schöllgen has portrayed one of the most controversial social democratic politicians of the 20th century. Gerhard Schröder headed a SPD-Grünen government coalition between 1998 and 2005. His swing to the political centre and progressive economic policies infuriated many supporters. On more than 900 pages, Schöllgen describes Schröder’s relentless rise to the top – from the beginnings as young socialist to the provincial government in Lower Saxony to his role as advisor of German-Russian business partnerships and Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Gerhard Schröder. Die Biographie” does not ignore any detail of the Schröder’s impressive career. Schöllgen analyses the rhetorically brilliant politician’s partnership with Tony Blair, his party-internal enemies, Schröder’s harsh pension and labour market reform and the election campaign battles against CSU frontrunner Edmund Stoiber and Angela Merkel from the CDU – who sensationally attended the book’s presentation to participate in a podium talk with Schröder and the author.

Gerhard Schröder. Die Biographie
By Gregor Schöllgen
Published by DVA (www.dva.de)

Torture, rape and efficient darknet recruiting initiatives. The Islamic State’s winning streak in Syria and Iraq continues as terror attacks in Prais, Nice and Brussels cause growing fear among Europeans. “ISIS. Der globale Dschihad” is a precise recount of the creation of the so-called IS. Middle East expert Bruno Schirra, who has visited the region many times since the 1980s, describes the rise of self-proclaimed IS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the essential efforts of his mentor, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Schirra explains how the IS grew stronger and stronger amid the internal conflicts in Iraq. While Shiites were repressed under Saddam Hussein, the government of Nouri al-Maliki persecuted the war-torn state’s Sunnis. Schirra – whose book was released before the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan attacks – does not just focus on Syria and the threat to Europe. The journalist reveals what the effects of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the Iran nuclear deal and the US invasion of Iraq on the interfaith disputes in the Arab region. Some of Schirra’s explanations are unnecessarily repetitive, bringing the book to well more than 300 pages. However, the positive aspects of his project turn “ISIS. Der globale Dschihad” into essential material for everyone interested in finding out what made the Islamic State the dominating terror organisation of the 21st century. His analysis is sharp, serious – and highly pessimistic regarding our peaceful coexistence and the battle against ISIS.

ISIS. Der globale Dschihad
By Bruno Schirra
Published by Econ (www.econ.de)

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