This book describes what Shiism means to those who actually practice it and serves as both an excellent introduction to the subject and an original work of scholarship.
Pinault (religion and Islamic studies, Colgate U.) describes Shiism as a religion rather than as the political movement that most people think of it as. He outlines the history of the sect, the similarities and differences between it and Sunni traditions, esoteric dimensions, regional variations, and worldviews. He then focuses on a particular community, in Hyderabad, India, exploring ritual, beliefs, community structure, relations with Hindus, and other aspects. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)