Praise for “I Was Told To Come Alone”

If only every journalist with Souad Mekhennet’s culture-straddling perspective and access would write an incisive book like this. It will haunt you, because the truth on the page is vaster than anything we’re usually offered.
— Azadeh Moaveni, author of Lipstick Jihad and Honeymoon in Tehran

Top 10 Books of 2017, November 15, 2017

"In her memoir of 15 years of covering jihadists, journalist Souad Mekhennet sets out to answer a perennial question: Why do they hate us?"


June 16, 2017

"[Souad Mekhenet] combines memoir with in-depth stories about her reporting to create a complex portrait of identity, conflict and ideology."



June 14, 2017

"A much-needed cry of tough, informed humanism, needed now more than ever."


Best Books of 2017

"Journalistic coups abound in ... Mekhennet's behind-the-scenes account of her experiences attempting to untangle the roots of Islamic extremism"


June 15, 2017

"A remarkable record of a Muslim woman struggling to understand those who kill in the name of her religion, and to explain their actions to the uncomprehending Western world to which she belongs. Time and again, she picks arguments with Muslims who think the West is at war with Islam, and with other Europeans who think all Muslims are terrorists."

June 13, 2017

"She is, first and foremost, a brave, resourceful, canny and tireless reporter. Additionally, she is Muslim, and a woman. By nationality and birth, she is German, with a Moroccan Sunni father and a Turkish Shiite mother, and she speaks English, German, French and Arabic. Jihadism in the past five years has been principally a European and Arab story, and Mekhennet is geographically, linguistically and personally poised to tell it."


April 23, 2017

"Washington Post correspondent Mekhennet offers a spellbinding fusion of history, memoir, and reportage in this enthralling account of her personal experience as a journalist and a Muslim on assignment in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa."

June 21, 2017

"An enthralling and sometimes shocking blend of reportage and memoir from the centers of jihadi networks in the Middle East and North Africa. . . Mekhennet has a singular perspective on the modern crisis of terrorist violence, intimate and constantly questioning." 

June 19, 2017

"...Souad Mekhennet delivers a brilliant narrative of risky first-person interviews and encounters across the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, in which she unveils the identity of ISIS executioner "Jihadi John" while telling the history of Islamic radicalism."

May 9, 2017

"A riveting memoir and a literary bombshell that effectively eviscerates every preconception, misconception, and prejudice readers have about the Arab world. . .       Compelling, insightful, and shockingly relevant, Mekhennet’s chronicle is a must-read and nothing less than a revelation."


A book that is at once courageous, perceptive and deeply knowledgeable about the phenomenon of contemporary Islamic militancy. One would expect nothing less from a reporter who has repeatedly shown she is one of the best in the business.
— Jason Burke, The Guardian, Author of Al-Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam. "On the Road to Kandahar: Travels through Conflict in the Islamic World".
I Was Told to Come Alone reads like a thriller, as Souad Mekhennet takes us on a journey into the heart of the Muslim world. Mekhennet is a Western journalist who is female and Muslim, which gives her access that few reporters can match. Through her eyes we see how terrorism develops and that it produces no winners on either side. Her insights are sobering but deeply wise, and especially urgent today.
— Jessica Stern, coauthor of ISIS: The State of Terror and author of Terror in the Name of God
Souad Mekhennet has written a fascinating memoir that functions on two levels. In the first, she is the daughter of Muslim immigrants to Germany, seeking ways to bridge these two worlds. In the second, she is an intrepid reporter investigating some of the most dangerous and important stories of recent years, and gaining unparalleled access to leading jihadist militants. Both stories are hers, and together they are truly compelling.
— Peter Bergen, author of United States of Jihad: Who Are America’s Homegrown Terrorists and How Do We Stop Them?
More than just a great narrative, I Was Told to Come Alone is a story for our time: a penetrating look at the roots of Islamist radicalism from a gifted and extraordinarily courageous journalist. Souad Mekhennet dares to confront the issues head-on, often at great personal risk, and she weaves her own experiences into an unforgettable and deeply absorbing tale. If you want to truly understand the nature of the crisis facing the West in the twenty-first century, this is the place to start.
— Joby Warrick, Pulitzer Prize - winning author of Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS