How did the Islamic State grow from regional terrorist group to a brutal multinational bureaucratic machine? What are its goals? How can it be stopped? In 2014, the Islamic State seemingly appeared out of nowhere, conquering Mosul, Iraq's second largest city and boldly announcing the establishment of a caliphate that seeks to eliminate all borders in the Middle East and to extend them as far as Central Asia and India. Today, it controls thousands of square miles, is attempting to govern millions of people and has gained notoriety for its indiscriminate and savage beheadings. Charles R. Lister, visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution's Doha Center, traces the outfit's growth from the release of its notorious father figure, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, from a Jordanian prison in 1999 and the group's formation in Afghanistan, finally to its stunning maturation in Iraq and Syria more than a decade later. He helps us understand what to expect next and recommends a course of action to defeat the group. This is an excellent primer on an organization that threatens to unseat the al-Qaeda as the leader of transnational jihadism, not to mention the risk it poses to global security.