Rocking Islam and the Middle East

Travel Blog  •  Ben Keene  •  07.29.08 | 12:02 PM ET

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In spite of my power pop predilections, I’m excited to get my hands on a copy of Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam, a new book by history professor Mark LeVine. The New York Times praised the book for offering “the hit-and-run pleasures of a lively road trip.” The book will eventually be complemented by a film, although few details are available online as of yet.

What I find most encouraging about LeVine’s thesis—and the message I think more Americans and Europeans need to hear—is the idea that the Middle East is no more of a monolithic society than, say, the United States.

In LeVine’s words:

I shouldn’t have been surprised at the notion of Muslim metalheads or punkers. Muslim history is full of characters and movements that seemed far out of the mainstream in their day, but that nevertheless helped bring about farreaching changes in their societies. As I nursed my drink, I contemplated the various musical, cultural, and political permutations that could be produced by combining Islam and hard rock. I began to wonder: What could Muslim metal artists and their fans teach us about the state of Islam today?

LeVine discusses the book on video here.

LeVine’s book follows the limited theatrical release of Heavy Metal in Baghdad, a gripping documentary about an Iraqi band that was literally sent running by the war in their country.


Ben Keene has appeared on National Public Radio, Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio as well as other nationally syndicated programs to discuss geographic literacy and his work updating a bestselling world atlas. Formerly a touring musician, he has written for Transitions Abroad and inTravel.


1 Comment for Rocking Islam and the Middle East

Jim Benning 07.29.08 | 6:54 PM ET

Slate has coverage, too:

http://www.slate.com/id/2196194/

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