Feldman, Noah (R.) 1970-

views updated

FELDMAN, Noah (R.) 1970-


Born 1970, in Boston, MA; married Jeannie Suk (an author). Education: Harvard University, A.B., 1992; Oxford University, D.Phil., 1994; Yale Law School, J.D., 1997.


Home—New York, NY, and Washington, DC. Office—New York University School of Law, Vanderbilt Hall, 40 Washington Square S, Room 411C, New York, NY 10012-1099. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 19 Union Square W, New York, NY 10003. E-mail—[email protected]


Legal scholar and author. Yale University, New Haven, CT, visiting lecturer, 1996; New York University School of Law, assistant professor, 2001-04, associate professor of law, 2004—. Visiting associate professor of law at Yale Law School, 2004, and Harvard Law School, 2005. Has also served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Harry T. Edwards, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and to Associate Justice David H. Souter, U.S. Supreme Court; New America Foundation, Washington, DC, adjunct fellow; chief U.S advisor for the writing of Iraq's new constitution, 2003.


Rhodes Scholar, Oxford University; Junior Fellow, Harvard University Society of Fellows, 1999-2001.


After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY) 2003.

What We Owe Iraq: War and the Ethics of Nation Building, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2004.

Also author of scholarly articles on topics such as constitutional law, law and religion, and legal theory.


At the age of only thirty-two, Noah Feldman, a New York University School of Law professor, was tapped by the Bush administration to head its attempt to bring constitutional government to Iraq. Feldman's book, After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy, argues that Iraq and other Middle Eastern nations are capable of forming their own versions of democratic government compatible with Islamic teachings.

Feldman completed his undergraduate work at Harvard in Near Eastern languages and civilizations and, as a Rhodes Scholar, earned a doctorate from Oxford University in Islamic thought. Feldman also received a law degree from Yale University Law School and served as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter. In an interview with the Journal News, Feldman stated that the aftermath of the regime change in Iraq would test the mettle of the United States and its allies: "We're on the verge of one of the most important processes of our political history of the last twenty-five years."

In After Jihad, Feldman suggests that the world needs to prepare for life after a period of Islamist extremism, and that the world can be fairly optimistic about that prospect. Feldman argues that both Islam and democracy are "mobile" ideas that can be defined in both a "modern" and an Islamic way. After Jihad examines the compatibility of Islam and democracy, discusses the problems and prospects of democratization, and tries to influence the policy debate on the Middle East in the United States.

Some reviewers of the book did not share Feldman's optimism. Nader Hashemi, in an otherwise positive review in the Toronto Globe & Mail, said that Feldman's assertion that Jordan is making progress toward democracy is flawed: "Attempts at democratization have really been about regime survival in the face of a hostile population." A Kirkus Reviews critic noted that in Feldman's text "the words 'perhaps' and 'maybe' appear so often that they begin to sound like wishful thinking." In the Middle East Quarterly, Jonathan Schanzer also argued that Feldman fails to take the dangers of militant Islamist movements seriously enough.

Other reviewers were more sanguine. Margaret Flanagan in Booklist wrote that "this thought-provoking discourse couldn't be published at a more appropriate time." Washington Post writer Emran Qureshi pointed out that Feldman's picture of the possibilities for democracy in the Middle East is not entirely optimistic, because the author fears for democracy in states like Saudi Arabia, whose oil wealth effectively prevents the need to follow democratic movements. Qureshi, however, concluded that Feldman "has written a substantial and important defense of why America should support democratic reform and not the authoritarian status quo in much of the Muslim world."



American Lawyer, February, 2004, Carolyn Kolker, "Founding Facilitator," interview with Feldman.

Booklist, April 15, 2003, Margaret Flanagan, review of After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy, pp. 1430-1431.

Globe & Mail (Toronto, Canada), May 17, 2003, Nader Hashemi, "The Fundamentals of Democracy," section D, p. 5.

Journal News, April 13, 2003, interview with Feldman.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2003, review of After Jihad, p. 284.

Middle East Quarterly, winter, 2004, Jonathan Schanzer, review of After Jihad, pp. 74-75.

New York Times, May 11, 2003, Jennifer Lee, "Aftereffects: The Law; American Will Advise Iraqis on Writing New Constitution," section 1, p. 14.

New York Times Book Review, July 6, 2003, Jonathan D. Tepperman, "A Delicate Balance," p. 16.

Publishers Weekly, March 3, 2003, review of After Jihad, pp. 63-64.

Shofar, spring, 2004, review of After Jihad, p. 202.

Washington Post, May 4, 2003, Emran Qureshi, "Building Bridges," section T, p. 8.


Front Page,http://www.frontpagemag.com/ (June 16, 2003), Martin Kramer, "Jihad Is Over (If Noah Feldman Wants It)."


International Wire, October 15, 2003, "Security Council Considers U.S. Resolution on Iraq: Interview with After Jihad Author Noah Feldman," transcript of television interview by John Gibson on Fox News; December 15, 2003, "Interview with Noah Feldman," transcript of television interview by John Gibson on Fox News.

About this article

Feldman, Noah (R.) 1970-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article