The first time one of your long cherished opinions gets rattled by evidence to the contrary tends to leave a mark.
I'm not sure if the Internet has made us dumber, but I know it's made it a lot easier for people to read news and articles that re-enforce their own beliefs. People on the right and left of the political spectrum listen to their respective prophets but they both have a similar weakness: over simplified and boiled down arguments.
This is on purpose of course, since we hate nuance and rarely have time for detail. Research is dangerous: you may very well end up learning something that conflicts with what you believe.
Take the "fallacy of the single cause". After any major event there is the simple question of "What was the cause of this?" The question implies that there is only one, or at least one primary explanation. Unless we're talking about how ice cubes are made, real life is rarely so polite to make itself simple.
Needless to say I was intrigued when I saw The World's Most Dangerous Place reviewed in Foreign Affairs.
I have seen Black Hawk Down, I know there are pirates, and I know Mogadishu is a great place to get killed. To put it another way, I didn't know anything and my opinions were based in Hollywood movies and some cable TV news, both of which are entertainment.
On a practical level Somalia comprises the majority of the Horn of Africa, and of course is the global hotbed of ship piracy. For the latter reason alone it would behoove any sailor transiting the Indian Ocean to understand the dynamics involved and crank up their knowledge beyond second hand information and a few websites. At a geopolitical level there is also the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab.
Author James Fergusson moves between Somalia, Kenya, London, and the United States to provide the full picture of Somalia and its diaspora scattered around the west.
What struck me the most about Somalia was actually something similar to Mexico. To many there is an over-simplified belief that Mexico is a "dangerous place". Once that stamp is applied there is little interest in learning more. That over simplification, that you can hold an opinion valuable enough to express based on Hollywood movies and readily-consumable-journalism, is precisely why this book is so valuable.
The trouble ain't what people don't know, it's what they know that just ain't so.
James Fergusson put together a very engaging book which arms the reader with an educated look at a country that is on the brink of peace or argmeggedon. Whether your interests lie in your own personal safety or that of your nation, or simply in the plight of the vast majority of innocent Somalis, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.