“What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

John W. KiserMy books have a contrarian flavor: profiles of innovative, maverick scientists in the Soviet Bloc (Communist Entrepreneurs: Unknown Innovators) when the popular view was one of technological incompetence in the communist world; Muslim-Christian harmony (Monks of Tibhirine: Faith Love and Terror in Algeria) when people were touting irreconcilable differences between Islam and the West, and now Commander of the Faithful: A Story of True Jihad. Abd el-Kader was a warrior, statesman, scholar who combined deep religious faith with chivalrous humanism and intellectual openness that made him a hero in both the East and West. Commander of the Faithful is the third book of an Abrahamic trilogy that began unwittingly with Stefan Zweig: Death of a Modern Man.

Zweig was one of the most prolific and widely-read writers of the 1930s and 1940s. His fiction and non-fiction was translated into more than 50 languages. For beginners, I would recommend Beware of Pity which ranks with the best Russian novels. Joseph Fouché, is a brilliant biography of a power hungry, ex-Jesuit who, as Police Minister, was one of the most politically astute and cold-blooded opportunists in Napoleon’s government. I became perplexed by Zweig’s suicide in 1942, living safely in Brazil, wealthy, world famous and with young new wife. My book was an attempt to understand the suicide of a man whose writings I discovered by accident and greatly enjoyed. Still read in Europe, Zweig has been virtually unknown in the United States. Now, thanks to the New York Review of Books, a Zweig revival is underway.

Faith in action. Thinking back, I have realized that my last three books have a common thread. Indirectly, they are about struggle and the role of faith in guiding and sustaining people in desperate times. The stories have moved me from being an agnostic to a believer in the omnipresence of divine wisdom—accessible if our antennas are tuned, and requiring ceaseless effort.

In additon to pig farming, I am also on the board of The William and Mary Greve Foundation.

Natural man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, nor can he; for to him they are foolishness.