Governor General's Literary Awards

The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State

The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State

By Graeme Wood

Random House / Penguin Random House; distributed by Penguin Random House Canada



Tens of thousands of men and women have left comfortable, privileged lives to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—and kill for it. To them, its violence is beautiful and holy, and the caliphate a fulfillment of prophecy and the only place on earth where they can live and die as Muslims. The Way of the Strangers is an intimate journey into the minds of the Islamic State’s most radical true believers. From the streets of Cairo to the mosques of London, Graeme Wood interviews supporters, recruiters, and sympathizers of the group. The theology, law, and emotional appeal of the Islamic State are key to understanding it—and predicting what its followers will do next.

"The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State by Graeme Wood investigates a much discussed, little understood phenomenon dominating international news. Meticulously researched and fluidly written, this bracing book delves into a contentious facet of contemporary geopolitics."

- Peer assessment committee

Graeme Wood
Graeme Wood


Graeme Wood wins his first Governor General's Literary Award in 2017 with The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State. A national correspondent for The Atlantic, he has written for The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Walrus, The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, and many other publications. He was the 2015–16 Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. A Canadian citizen, Wood lives in New Haven, Connecticut, and teaches in the political science department at Yale University.

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