“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.

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