I'm really trying not to say "Here's yet another conversion story." Every soul is unique, every soul's relationship with God is unique, every conversion story is unique (as is every story of a soul who doesn't have to be converted, in the sense of adopting a new religion). Yet there is also a certain degree of similarity in all these stories, and it's probably a good idea not to read too many of them in quick succession.
Here's what is unusual about Sohrab Ahmari's story: he was born in Iran, to a not-particularly-observant Muslim family, after the Islamic revolution had, to the distress of his family, taken power. He and his mother came to the U.S., and not just to urban or typical suburban U.S., but to Mormon Utah. There he had a very American adolescence which involved rejection of the mainstream (as it existed there), subsequent atheism, nihilism, communism, and other forms of modern Western alienation. As happens fairly often, actual experience led him away from cultural and political leftism in general toward the kind of conservatism that respects religion--which in this country means above all respecting Christianity--without believing in it or practicing it. a species of conservatism. That "actual experience" provides some of the most interesting moments in the book, including his covertly joining a group of young men attempting to emigrate from the Middle East to Europe.
I think I will leave the rest of the story for you to read. It is worth reading.
Okay, I know that sounds like faint praise, and I guess it is. I enjoyed the book but I don't expect to return to it, and my relative lack of enthusiasm is similar to what I felt about Hillbilly Elegy: while the matter is certainly interesting, the quality of the writing is not high enough to make me value it for that reason.
Ahmari has of course been in the news, at least in certain circles, because of his call, in First Things, for a more aggressive Christian tactic in the current religious conflict. Ahmari criticizes a different approach, to which he appropriated the name of one of its practitioners, calling it "David-French-ism." I don't feel obliged to take a side in this argument, or even inclined to. As I said in a comment just this morning, the fact that the liberal democratic tradition has a fatal philosophical flaw does not mean that it must actually die very soon, and I see no reason why I myself need to take any definite view on whether I think the case is hopeless or not. At any rate I think French has a very good point, on display in this piece about a difficult but successful religious liberty lawsuit, that too many Christians and conservatives are much too quick to give up the fight even on the terms required by the liberal tradition itself. To that extent, then, my view differs from Ahmari's, that the "...the overall balance of forces has tilted inexorably away from us."
I don't think anyone has ever accused me of optimism, and if anyone did he was mistaken or taking some anomaly for the norm. But I don't quite accept "inexorably."