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Books - History - Historical Study - Books everyone should read on the Middle East

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    A History of the Modern Middle East
    by William L. Cleveland
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 November, 1999)
    list price: $51.00
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    Reviews (14)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommend
    As a student of Middle East studies, I highly recommend this book as a good introduction to the dynamics of Middle East history.It not only provides a solid & comprehensive survey of Middle Eastern history, it also explains in sufficient detail the currents of ideologies and prominent social factors that contribute to the historical social and political patterns of the region.Also includes a good bibliography for further study.It is also notworthy to mention the relatively objective approach Cleveland takes to most historical events of the Middle East.Overall, it is a very good book that may be useful for all people interested in studying this region - I know I've used it to reference things numerous times.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading on Middle East History
    William Cleveland's "A History of the Modern Middle East" is without a doubt an essential book for anyone interested in or studying Middle East history.

    Cleveland presents the history of the region from the late Ottoman Empire through to the more recent struggles dominating the airwaves and - and this is the most important thing - explains what on earth is at stake. This is a particularly important thing in Middle East history, as some of the alliances and divisions between different groups are somewhat arcane to the beginner.

    Unlike many books covering the history of the region, Cleveland writes in an eminently readable manner. While some readers will be astonished at the lack of diacritics and the like, this serves the purpose of communicating his information much more clearly.

    His analysis and sense of history are spot-on. Whether writing about the defeat of the Ottoman Empire or the land-rights struggle between the Palestinians and the Israelis, Cleveland presents the facts clearly and with a wry sense of humour at times - particularly in his discussion of Iran's modernising drive.
    Cleveland also has an eye for the anecdote and the illuminating personality, which greatly improves his abilities as a writer. If there's one problem with a lot of contemporary Middle East scholarship, it's the reliance on the dry historical record at the expense of the character sketch.

    If there is one criticism which could be made of this work, it's that Cleveland sometimes expects a little more background knowledge from his readers than perhaps he should. Already having an interest in this field, I did not suffer too much from this expectation, although the absolute beginner might have some problems.

    That said, this is a book I can highly recommend for anyone keen to learn about the genesis of a region which - for better or worse - looks as though it will be in the news headlines for many years to come. After all, as Winston Churchill (a man who does not come up roses in the history of this region) once said, those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it. Arguably, this is more true in the Middle East than anywhere else on earth.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to the Broader Middle East
    "A Histrory of the Modern Middle East"By John Cleveland published
    by Westview Press C. 1999it is about 592 pages and is an outstanding book for general knowledge aboutthe entire region including Iran.Real easy read but a lot of information.This should be for the type of person who really wants to learn about a very misunderstood culture, region of the world and faith.As with almost every book on the Middle East, It gives a nice introduction to Islam without deluging the reading with the minute details.It shifts very quickly to the 20th century but does give lip service to the Ottoman Empire especially the Janissary Corps (We get the modern Marching band from them).The author really shines in his discussion of the Arab Israeli conflict and the Palestinian Israeli conflict.All in all outstanding.The new edition has the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0813334896
    Sales Rank: 111558
    Subjects:  1. 1517-    2. 20th century    3. History    4. History & Theory - General    5. History - General History    6. Middle East    7. Middle East - General    8. Middle East - History    9. Political Science    10. Politics/International Relations   


    Islam,: The Straight Path
    by John L. Esposito
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 November, 1997)
    list price: $37.17
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    Reviews (20)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Simply the best there is
    What John Esposito doesn't know about Islam is probably either not worth knowing or of interest only to serious specialists in their esoteric debates. As a result, "Islam: The Straight Path" can be heartily recommended.

    Esposito introduces this religion, arguably the most important one for the West to understand at the present time, in plain and simple English. He outlines the history of the faith, from Muhammad through the early Caliphate and into the age of the great empires based on Islamic bedrock. He also explains the basic traditions and practices of Islam, while devoting considerable energy to explaining how the faith interacts with the modern world - an important concept for any serious study of religion.

    Unlike many introductory texts on Islam, Esposito does not trivialise certain points, such as the Shi'a tradition of succession to the prophet. Rather, he presents a balanced explanation of how the division between Sunni and Shi'a Islam came about - as well as demonstrating why the two groups are in fact much closer to each other than the media might try to claim. This is illustrative of his approach throughout this masterful work.

    Esposito comments early that he will avoid the diacritics so common in academic writing about Islam and the Arabic language. While this might dismay some specialists, it serves to "de-alienise" the concepts presented here - which is entirely the point.

    As a brief anecdote about the usefulness of this book, I first came across it on a booklist for a very introductory course on Islam I was taking. Since completing that course, I have moved into the field of Islamic Studies permanently and have never had this book out of my sight during research. Not only are Esposito's remarks on aspects of the faith very well-written, he also provides suggestions of other sources to consult.

    This book can be recommended to anyone keen to learn about Islam. Regardless of one's background knowledge or lack thereof, Esposito will prove a very useful addition to a bookshelf.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Introductory Text on Islam
    This book is by far the best introductory text on Islam that I have encountered.The important thing to keep in mind is that it is an introductory text, and its function as such should be kept in mind.The book provides an excellent overview, broken down into 6 different issues/subjects of the Islamic world, and the text isfurther broken down into clearly delineated and manageable chunks, just as an introductory text should be.Especially good is the elegant and concise way in which the history of the beginnings of Islam are laid out.Perhaps less strong is some of the discussion of the different ways that Muslims have approached the issue of reforming Islam, which I found to be repetitive and vague at the same time.
    One person was disappointed that the author often mentions a lot of names and concepts, and then doesn't describe them much.Well, that is the PURPOSE of an introductory text, to introduce people to ideas that they can then pursue further in specialized texts if they are interested.Similary, why would one expect to find information on minority non-Islam religious groups or the African slave trade in a book about Islam?The former would be found in a comparitive religion text, the latter, perhaps in a history of Islamic people, but not an introductory text on Islam.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Islam
    The Straight Path is a straightforward and accessible historical introduction to Islam theology, politics, and law. John Esposito, the author, begins with Muhammad and the Quran, basic Islamic dogma, and the creation of the Islamic community. He then sketches the history of the Islamic world in the medieval period, covering the Umayyads, the Abbasid Caliphate, the Crusades and the later Islamic empires, which are Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal. Some of the divisions within Islam are the Sunni/Shia spilt, the Ismailis, the Druze and the diversity of its mystical and legal traditions.
    Next, Esposito explains Islamic theology and law in depth. Medieval theological conflicts centered on the relationship of faith, the status of grave sinners, and the connection between the absolute power of God and human free will. An essential figure was the tenth century synthesizer al-Ashari, whose followers became the leaders of the dominant school of Sunni theology. The five pillars of Islam are the professions of faith, prayer, almsgiving, the Ramadan fast and Hajj; the pilgrimage to Mecca. Finally, Esposito also touches on family law - divorce and inheritance, the relation between customary practice and Quranic prescription by showing the rules about veiling and seclusion, Sufism and Shia differences.
    With its primarily historic approach, The Straight Path only succeeds to give a feel for the role Islam plays in the lives of particular believers. Overall, The Straight Path works well, giving a moral feel for Islam's ancient depth and geographical reach. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0195112342
    Sales Rank: 128771
    Subjects:  1. Comparative Religion    2. Islam    3. Islam - General    4. Religion    5. Religion - World Religions    6. History of religion   


    Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam
    by John L. Esposito
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 March, 2002)
    list price: $28.00 -- our price: $28.00
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    Reviews (29)

    5-0 out of 5 stars don't beleive gnossie
    This person "gnossie"is a friend o Danial Pipes or Daniel Pipes himself hiding as "gnossie".Stay way from his review, It is just another Islamophopic broken record.Americans are notignorant,as gnossie assumes,and CAN tell the difference between A Scholar like John Esposito and cheep rhetoric produced by the likes of Freedman, Pipes and othersin their class.

    2-0 out of 5 stars insidious
    . . . and I use the word in its strictest sense:"more harmful than is apparent."

    The only reason Esposito has been able to rise to the heights of his profession is basically because his audience consists either of Muslims who approve of all the congratulatory things he says about Islam, or Americans who simply don't know one way or the other -- and naturally would like to believe his drivel about "the peaceful religion."

    Notice that his audiences never consist of those (non-Muslims) who haved lived and traveled in the Middle East, who speak and read Arabic, who have read the Koran, or who have dealt with Muslims and Arabs for years.Such people invariably revile Esposito and would promptly laugh him off stage.

    Still, it's interesting how someone can study a subject academically for all his life and never really see it . . .

    For a useful analysis of Islam without rose-colored glasses:Robert Spencer, David Pryce-Jones, Thomas Friedman, Victor Davis Hanson, Serge Trifkovic, Bat Ye'or, Daniel Pipes -- even Bernard Lewis, if you must.

    4-0 out of 5 stars An excellent primer
    Esposito, certainly one of the foremost scholars today who deals knowledgeably with the interrelationship of Islam and Christianity, has produced this short but extremely readable and relevant book detailing in succint form what he believes to be the issues that are the basis for the struggle between radical Islam and America.I highly recommend this book for people who come to the issue with little prior knowledge about the issues shaping the problem, or anyone who wants to have a better understanding of the topic, regardless of the amount of knowledge they bring to the table.This book just may whet your appetite for more reading on the subject! ... Read more

    Isbn: 0195154355
    Sales Rank: 253784
    Subjects:  1. Current Affairs    2. International Relations - General    3. Islam    4. Islam - General    5. Islam and world politics    6. Jihad    7. Mass Media    8. Political Freedom & Security - Terrorism    9. Politics - Current Events    10. Politics/International Relations    11. Religious aspects    12. Terrorism   


    $28.00

    Drinking the Sea at Gaza : Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege
    by Amira Hass, Maxine Nunn
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 2000)
    list price: $16.00 -- our price: $10.88
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    Editorial Review

    In what is sure to be a controversial book, Israeli reporter Amira Hass offers a rare portrait of the Palestinians in Gaza. Very few journalists have lived in that troubled region; Jewish ones are rarer still. "To most Israelis," Hass writes, "my move seemed outlandish, even crazy, for they believed I was surely putting my life at risk." But Israelis desperately need to understand the plight of the Palestinian people, she writes, and few of them read the unvarnished truth in the Jerusalem press. This has made most of them ignorant of what goes on right next door, and inspired unduly "harsh" attitudes toward Gaza and its one million residents. Hass even quotes the late Yitzhak Rabin, who wished that Gaza "would just sink into the sea," shortly before he signed the Oslo Accords. Wishing away the problem, however, is no solution, and Hass delivers a detailed--and highly opinionated--diagnosis of what's wrong with Israeli policy toward Gaza. Strong supporters of Israeli will say that Hass is nothing but a mouthpiece for the Palestinians. Indeed, this book's subtitle could apply as much to Israel, surrounded by bitter enemies, as it does to Gaza. Yet it would be wrong to ignore Hass: the scene in Gaza is woefully unreported. The book is not likely to change many minds--this is one of those subjects where passions run deep and fierce. Those who already sympathize with Hass's pro-Palestinian views will find Drinking the Sea at Gaza an invigorating book. --John J. Miller ... Read more

    Reviews (10)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Read this book first
    This book is as extraordinary and inspiring as its author. Hass is an Israeli, a Jew, a woman and an atheist who, uniquely in Israel, has chosen to live among the Palestinian people she writes about. To most people this would be as fatal a combination of attributes as could be imagined. Yet throughout her book she tells only of the warmth, generosity and acceptance she is offered, in a region regularly described as among the most dangerous on the planet.

    Many of the best, most relentless and devastating critiques of Israel's colonialism come from Israelis, and none more so than Hass. The most powerful passages are where she likens the lot of the dispossessed in Gaza to the experiences of her own family, Holocaust victims and survivors, in being uprooted by the Nazis from their ancestral homes in Romania. It was her mother's account of the indifference on the faces of the German women who watched as she and the rest of the human cargo were herded from the cattle train en route to Bergen-Belsen that convinced Hass that "my place was not with the bystanders".

    This book is no hagiography. She savages the Palestinian Authority leadership for their corruption and brutality (while giving it the necessary context of "a land under siege"). She meticulously documents the inferior position of women in Gaza - their exclusion from the few positions of authority, their lives of domestic drudgery while their unemployed husbands and brothers sit idly by.

    Hass gives voice, humanity and a history to a people who live wretchedly on the doorstep of the homes and the lands from which they were expelled barely fifty years ago; who must now accept that neither their own leadership nor the world at large any longer insists on their right of return.

    If you are thinking of buying Joan Peters's preposterous From Time Immemorial - a systematic denial of the Palestinians' history and identity, built on misused statistics and fraudulent records - read Drinking the Sea at Gaza first. Then save yourself the money.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Venomous
    Amira Hass is to be commended for bravely moving to Gaza and writing a book about the people there.

    However, this book isn't going to help people of Gaza.

    One of the problems in Gaza is the Arab war against Jewish rights.This has poisoned relations among Jews and Arabs.Blaming all this on the Israel and thus promoting more of the same, as Hass does, is not good for anyone.Instead, it sabotages what could have been an effort to promote human rights for everyone in the region.Meanwhile, the author's bias against Israel makes the book unreliable.

    4-0 out of 5 stars An Important, if Difficult Read
    As an American Jew, this book was highly informative if equally difficult. It isn't the writing that makes this book hard since Hass is clear and ultimately convincing. What was hard, small h, was the way she left anecdotes aside after the first few chapters and went into somewhat tedious details about Gazan lives, their suffering while losing her initial sense of story. Yet what was Hard, capital H, were the truths embodied in this book. As a loyal visitor to Israel, it was really Hard to know that what Hass documents about Israeli cruelty to the Palestinian peoples had the undeniable ring of truth about it. That what she says here is authentic, however hard to reconcile with how we lovers of Israel see "our" homeland. It helps that Hass is an Israeli citizen and that she is the child of Holocaust survivors--that helps to understand her empathy with suffering. I finally have decided that she is not anti-Israel but pro-Justice and that is the framework I suggest others use when reading this difficult, important report from the frontlines. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0805057404
    Subjects:  1. Current Affairs    2. Economic Conditions    3. International Relations - General    4. Middle East - Israel    5. Political    6. Politics - Current Events    7. Politics/International Relations    8. Political Science / International Relations   


    $10.88

    Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians (South End Press Classics Series)
    by Noam Chomsky
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 October, 1999)
    list price: $22.00 -- our price: $15.40
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    Editorial Review

    First published in 1983, Fateful Triangle is a comprehensive indictment of what Noam Chomsky calls the "disgraceful and extremely dangerous" policy the United States has enacted towards Israel, particularly with regard to Israel's actions concerning the Palestinians. Supporters of Israel must willfully overlook or deny that nation's long history of human rights violations and military aggression, Chomsky writes, and they will continue to do so as long as Israel is strategically useful towards "the U.S. aim of eliminating possible threats, largely indigenous, to American domination of the Middle East region." In the course of elaborating his argument, Chomsky cuts through the myths and distortions that appear in mainstream media accounts; the damning facts that he so systematically assembles portray a government more brutally and overtly racist, perhaps, than even apartheid-era South Africa. Three new chapters, drawing upon material from Z magazine and other publications, incorporate such developments as the Palestinian uprising, Israel's war on Lebanon, and the ongoing "peace process." ... Read more

    Reviews (53)

    4-0 out of 5 stars basics
    chomsky always offers detail. if people are looking for answers from political writers, youre insane. take the book for what its worth - information... and then keep up with the subject on your own. it doesnt take a genius to develop a perspeptive to understand the motives of the people/events he writes about.

    as for, "James H. Boschma III "Political Pragmatist"... you might try sounding a little more intellectual without using the word "badness" mixed in with the rest of your dictionary words. haha... jesus christ.


    1-0 out of 5 stars Rantings of a privileged white male from an ivory tower
    Chomsky's anti-America, anti-Israel screed is purely for those who live in a fantasy world where every problem in the world can be safely contained and blamed on America, and shades of gray are firmly verboten.For those who have to live and work in the real world, where bad people do bad things based on personal motives and desires that cannot be, somehow and inevitably, traced back to American government of business, it's utterly worthless.

    There are much better books out there about understanding the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and/or the role of the US in that dispute or in the Middle East in general that take hard looks at the issue.Israel is certainly not without culpability in the ongoing problems with Palestinians, but Chomsky lacks the objectivity, apparently, to exmanine the issue in a productive, reasoned manner.

    For those who are safely ensconced on a college campus somewhere, this may be a decent book that will support illusions about human nature and the badness of American government.For those who have matriculated out into reality, spend your money elsewhere on a better book.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Chomsky defends Arafat and others who kill innocent people
    This is not a book about what is right and wrong in the Middle East, it is a memoir about a self-hating Jew.

    He feels that Israel has human rights violations and military aggression.Far from it.There are militant Palestinian's whose mantra is to eliminate Israel.What are they to do?Sit and wait for the bombers to kill innocent citizens.

    Israel is the greatest ally has in the Middle East.
    But Chomsky would rather ignore that and focus on the secondary issues.

    If Chomsky could get over his hatred of Judaism, he may be able to open his mind to the truth.
    ... Read more

    Isbn: 0896086011
    Subjects:  1. 1993-    2. Arab-Israeli conflict    3. Foreign relations    4. History    5. International Relations - General    6. Israel    7. Lebanon    8. Middle East - General    9. Peace    10. Political Science    11. Politics - Current Events    12. Politics/International Relations    13. U.S. - Middle East Relations    14. United States   


    $15.40

    The Question of Palestine
    by EDWARD W. SAID
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (07 April, 1992)
    list price: $14.95 -- our price: $10.17
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    Reviews (23)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Well I was not impressed
    The famous Edward Said...yes I have had to read his books all throughout college, as he was required reading for every sociology, political science or communications course I took.Admitedly, as a self professed compassionate liberal I wanted to like this book.I wnated to read it and believethat "Palestinians" truly are commited to the "two state solution." Instead I cam away from this book learning that the finger pointing and blame game continue to be the primary Intellectualism of Dr. Said.While this book is well written and does argue for the freedoms of "Palestinians" it completely ignores the rights and freedoms of Israelis and the need for "Palestinians" to take responsibility for their continued rejection of the two state solution and continued choice "yes I do believe that people have free will" of terrorism.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Review on "The Question of Palestine"
    In "The Question of Palestine" author Edward W. Said analyzes the complexity in recognizing the Palestinian plight that has plagued a society since the establishment of Israel.Said eloquently illustrates a different perception to the omnipresent and biased understanding of the Palestinian/Israeli issue. It was enlightening to analyze Said's version on the international conflict, not simply because I am sympathetic to a society under foreign occupation and in exile, but rather because it is a perspective not often pursued by the American general public.
    "The Question of Palestine" depicts the effects of Zionism and how its blatant disregard of Palestinians is culpable for the ongoing strife in the region.Said describes the historical context in which the existence of Palestinians was disregarded from the very onset of Israel's creation.The author explains that his purpose in writing this book was to illustrate how the Palestinian's perceive Zionism.
    Although Said is clearly an enthusiast for the Palestinian cause, he credits Israel's political organization, cultural achievements, and economic stability as the strength behind Israel's permanence.What I find fascinating about this book is that it addresses issues often ignored by America's biased media.American society has yet to adequately analyze the inhumane political and social injustices suffered by the Palestinians.In fact, often is the case that news coverage of Arabs in the region reinforce an already inbred stereotype of Middle Eastern society, that chaos and violence is a standard practice.
    Said also emphasizes on how Israel, once a victim of oppression, has evolved into an oppressor.In "The Question of Palestine," Said explains how Palestine has been plagued by acquisition and occupation.In his book, Said describes his view of Israel as an imperialistic society.He also addresses the issue that the Palestinians were not consulted when their land was given to a new society for development. In essence, Said explains how the existence of the Palestinians was thought of as a minimal complication that will dilute with time.However, the reality of the matter is that the identities of the Palestinians are far from accepting defeat.
    In "The Question of Palestine" Said describes how nearly 4 million Palestinians are scattered throughout the world.In this book Said questions how nothing is said when it is irrefutable that Israel is responsible for the deportation, torture, and transfer of population of millions of Palestinian Arabs.Said gives his readers an account of the Palestinian reality -- a struggle in which the natives are the disadvantaged.
    Fundamentally, the purpose of Said writing this book was to bring attention to a vaguely commented issue - the reality of the Palestinian refugees.An issue that Said describes as ignored, or willfully misrepresented is no longer so. "The Question of Palestine" provokes its readers to question an issue that would not commonly be addressed.I recommend this book to anyone interested in Middle Eastern politics and to any individual on gaining insight on an issue that is unfortunately not often discussed.

    1-0 out of 5 stars The politics of victimization
    Edward Said tries to portray the Zionism from its victims' point of view. He arbitrarily asserts that the Palestinians are victims of the Zionism. He never considers that perhaps they are victims of their own fanaticism and uncompromising policy that are practiced for decades that brought them into their pitiful situation.

    Another leitmotif in the book is the idea that Zionism is colonialism. He tries to sell the story of the colonizing Jews against the native Arabs, never mentioning any connection between the Jews and Israel, as though it is comparable to the white colonialists out of Europe. Also, through selective quoting, as he did in his famous previous book, Orientalism, he tries to show that the Israeli Zionists have scorned the Arabs. He boldly ignores many Zionists who admired the Arabs and saw them as the new man they are trying to create, and the antithesis of Jews of the Diaspora: proud person, who lives in his lands, defends it and farms it.

    He also criticizes the Zionism because it is made for Jews and not Arabs. But Zionism is the Jewish nationalism, and there is no reason why it should promote the rights of the Arabs. Just like the Arab nationalism is not about Jewish rights.

    The terrorism issue is another colossal failure of this book. He conveniently blames the victims: he asserts that the terrorism is forced upon the Palestinians, as though they have no choice. He tries to have it both ways, but it's impossible. You either condemn the terrorism, or justify it. You can't be both pro-Palestinian enough by avoiding a whole condemnation and in the meantime be liberal enough by condemning murders. There is no middle way.

    The book is also full of other mistakes and distortions that come handy in telling his message: the Balfour declaration was considerate of the Palestinian rights, in contrary to his writing, and explicitly declares: "it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine". He also considers the Jewish resistance against the British as terrorism (although it was against military, not civilians) and suggests that the brave Egyptian peace with Israel harms the Palestinians, and that Saadat has made many concessions (in fact, he did got all the territory that Egypt loss, except for Gaza strip which he didn't want).

    The few good things that have to be said on the book are that its conciseness and fluency make it an easy read, and that his points that the Palestinian people exists and that their right to self determination must be fulfilled are precisely right. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0679739882
    Sales Rank: 31583
    Subjects:  1. International Relations - General    2. Jewish-Arab relations    3. Middle East - General    4. Middle East - History    5. Palestinian Arabs    6. Politics - Current Events    7. Sociology    8. History / Middle East   


    $10.17

    Orientalism
    by EDWARD W. SAID
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (12 October, 1979)
    list price: $15.95 -- our price: $10.85
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    Reviews (49)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
    It's an excellent book to read indeed. A new perspective different from those you hear every day in failed media we have nowadays..

    1-0 out of 5 stars Hiding Arab Racism
    This book, like Culture and Imperialism, is essentially about Western prejudice against Islam.Said condemns intellectuals in the West who in his eyes are "agents of exploitation".Yet Said himself is an agent of racism: Arab Racism.

    A Pan Arabist, he always supported Arab unity and "Islam" at the expense of non-Arab and non-Moslem peoples.Said directs and manipulates the Western taste for self criticim, and all that does is deflect the world's attention from Arab and Moslem attrocities committed against Christians, Kurds, Jews, Israelis, Coptic Christians, non-Arab Sudanese, etc.

    Thus, reading Said, you would never realize that Sadam Hussein's poisoning of the Kurds has never been condemned by one Arab intellectual or leader.This is because a racist prevalent attitude in the Arab mind is that the entire Middle East should be Arab.This also explains the attitude towards Israel, a country that is predominantly non-Moslem and speaks a Middle Eastern language other than Arabic.

    The pity is that Said himself is a Christian, yet he never spoke on behalf of Coptic Christians in Egypt, or the right of Christians to practice their faith in Saudi Arabia and probably other places in the Arab World.He is facilitating the overall aim of PanArab Nationalists by distracting the West from what is happening in the Arab world.

    For a better understanding of relations between the West and Islam, I recommend books by Bernard Lewis, such as "The Moslem Discovery of Europe" and the "Jews of Islam".I also recommend books by the Egyptian scholar and Jewish refugee Yael Bat Yeor, such as "The Dhimmi".

    2-0 out of 5 stars Understandable, but empty and paranoid
    Orientalism must rank as among those books whose influence is so great that the reader is strongly tempted to know what to think about them before reading them. This generally means that other people have read it and found much to comment on. As Edward Said's best-known work, Orientalism has established him as the leader in a field. The question is, which field exactly would that be? I ask, because even taking away the more obvious bombastic criticisms, there still remain grave problems with this book. In the afterword, from 1994, Said attempts to deal with some criticisms and, honorably enough, debunk some of the accolades that have gone out in his favor. But either no one has addressed the biggest problems (unlikely) or Said chose to ignore them. Either way, Orientalism does not ultimately pass the test of honest scholarship.

    The basic thesis is clear enough. Said contends that the entire field of Orientalism is corrupted in its very essence. All scholars of the Orient (which Said treats synonymously with Muslim countries, and only in passing to India or the far East), whether working in historical, literary, or whatever field, have utterly failed to produce useful information about the Orient. This is apparently a conviction Said held without reservation. His claim is that all scholarship was biased by imperialism, written for a Western readership (as no Oriental person was capable of understanding it), and frequently was done in such a way because of malevolent motivations. It is a common refrain in the book that every Orientalist looks at the Orient as nothing more than a source for Western needs. To Said, it's all just a matter of imposing onto an artificially constructed idea of the Orient whatever whims strike the fancy of whichever scholar is at issue.

    It's difficult to try to expose every fallacy Said makes. The most commonly repeated refrain is no Western scholar actually cares about the people of the Orient, or even acknowledges their existence. Every line a Western writer issues that refers to himself or any aspect of Western readership is a sign of Western arrogance and contempt. A typical example is on page 193:

    "En route to Suez across the desert, alone, he glories in his self-sufficiency and power: "I was here in this African desert, and I myself, and no other, had charge of my life." It is for the comparatively useless purpose of letting Kinglake take hold of himself that the Orient serves him."

    Notice how Said dismisses not as irrelevant but as simply unthinkable the very idea that Kinglake, the scholar in question, could have an intrinsic interest in or respect for the Orient. The musings of a British scholar, possibly in the desert for the first time, cannot even for one moment turn reflexively towards himself. To Said, this is proof positive that Kinglake has no interest in the Orient for its own sake. It must, because Kinglake is a Westerner, all revolve around Kinglake. This is exactly the sort of offhand comment Said makes over and over. He never defends these claims specifically, and usually the preceding line (or Saidian paraphrase of a quote) is just as innocuous as the one I cite above. He hammers home this theme repeatedly, as if to establish proof by repeating it often enough (something he explicitly accuses the Orientalists of doing). On a similar, if less weighty note, Said repeats the word `Orient' and its variations more than any similar word I've ever seen in any book, as if to make it into a dirty word by sheer repetition. On some pages, you can make constellations by lining up all the `O''s.

    Despite Said's claims, I'm not sure who the audience is supposed to be. For the completely general reader, there are some ideas that can be followed without difficulty, particularly the ones I mentioned above. Honest ideas are harder to come by. But only a specialist could follow everything, because Said does not actually provide many examples of what's bothering him. In many of the quotes he does use as proof of Western disdain for Orientals, I'm hard pressed to see what's actually wrong with them. This becomes especially true in the last chapters, when we are dealing with somewhat current events. Here Said adopts a defensive political tone. It is Western racism, for example, to write about Islam in a way that makes it sound threatening. If Muslims scare you, even when they're armed, enraged and burning American flags, it is a sign of your racism. Similarly, he cites the caricatures of Arab sheiks standing by gas pumps that started showing up in political cartoons circa 1973 as signs of Orientalist racism. Does Said really have no other ideas for why Arab sheiks near gas pumps would show up starting in 1973? Is he joking?

    Sadly, he is not. But he may as well be. We get, between these covers, page after page of unfounded claims. It is enough that so-and-so is a bad scholar because Said says so. (And when he does give quotes, he often leaves them untranslated, like page 91, where a French quote fills 28 lines). And he claims that Orientalists are the very last target audience he has?

    The irony and shame is that underneath it all, there is truth to Said's claims. Probably much scholarship in various fields in the centuries he mentions leaves much to be desired. How much Eighteenth Century history writing would hold up today? As Keith Windschuttle points out in Killing of History, sometimes these crackpot postmodernists do us a favor by pointing out genuine areas of new scholarship. And honestly, though one would never know from reading Said, much Orientalist scholarship was deeply flawed (See Warraq, Why I am not a Muslim) and said more about the author than the subject. It is a testament to Said's cast-the-first-stone genius that he could take a halfway reasonable claim and botch it to such an incredible degree.
    ... Read more

    Isbn: 039474067X
    Sales Rank: 5416
    Subjects:  1. Asia    2. Asia - General    3. East and West    4. Ethnic Studies - General    5. Foreign public opinion, Occide    6. History: World    7. Imperialism    8. Middle East    9. Middle East - General    10. Orientalism    11. Sociology    12. Study and teaching    13. Social Science / Ethnic Studies   


    $10.85

    Covering Islam : How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World
    by EDWARD W. SAID
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (11 March, 1997)
    list price: $14.00 -- our price: $10.50
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    Editorial Review

    While the 16 years that have passed since the first edition ofthis book hit the stands have been marked by an increase in sensitivitytoward many ethnic, racial, and sexual minorities, the easy acceptance ofstereotypes and prejudices in the portrayal, depiction of, and reportingabout Islamic peoples has remained largely constant. In this updatedversion of this rigorous but engaging volume Edward Said looks at howAmerican popular media has used and perpetuated a narrow andunfavorable image of Islamic peoples, and how this has preventedunderstanding while providing a fictitious common enemy for thediverse American populace. ... Read more

    Reviews (46)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Point must be understood by Americans
    The author is right in saying that the American media has perpetuated a negative image against Muslims and Arabs and thus determines how many Americans view them.A great supplement to this book is "Arab voices Speak to American Hearts" which helps to dispel these negative images with words from Muslims and Arabs in the Middle East and helps to develop a peacful dialogue between these people and Americans.www.arabvoicesspeak.com

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good point, mediocre delivery
    I personally agree with most of the things Said is saying in this book. However, some of the things he condemns, such as using blanket statements to describe an enormous amount of people, Said himself is guilty of in this book.

    However, reading the reviews on this page just confirm everything that Said says in this book. There are several reviews on this site that claim that Said's work suggests covering up for injustices in the Islamic world. This is not what Said is arguing. Said argues instead that nothing but these injustices are focused upon, which I agree with. How many American's know anything realistic about Islamic society? In fact, Islamic society isn't even a relevant term due to the fact that there are SO MANY DIFFERENT GROUPS within Islam.

    Instead of pinning all the blame on "Islam," the media should learn to seperate the innocent Muslims from the guilty Muslims. Just as there are Protestant and Christian terrorists, there are Arab terrorists.

    Attempts to accurately describe what "Islam" is all about have failed. Islam is a religion and therefore conclusions about society in Muslim countries cannot be seen as Islamic Society. Even if you include Muslim countries in which there are many injustices towards many groups, you're only getting a small slice of the Islam pie. Remember, Islam is one of the largest religions on the planet, it's not as if it is confined to a few countries.

    That's all just my opinion. As far as the book goes, it raises some important points and it appears as though it is well researched though I can't say that I've fact checked. Overall, however, the book is uninteresting and tends to contradict itself. It is impossible to completely avoid contradiction, but when it is quite noticable even to a reader who agrees with the author, it indicates that the book could have been written more carefully.

    Just my two cents.

    2-0 out of 5 stars an interesting if flawed theory
    The gist of the argument herein is that since Westerners either A) arn't Muslim or B)arn't native speakers therefore all their reporting is biased.It is an interesting theory, and given it one must conclude that therefore the West should either A) only hire muslims to report on Muslims or B) not report on the Islamic world.

    This is not however the conclusion.Rather the conclusion is that the West becuase it is 'bad' and 'colonial' is projecting a false image of Islam everywhere it reports about it.

    Let us take some examples and see what this is talking about.The argument is that the west is always biased and always giving us the wrong view of wonderful islam.
    1)Saudi Arabia-where women cannot drive, cant vote and can be beheaded for adultery.All this is a fact but apparently to report these facts would be biased, thus by doing so the western media encourages the unfair analysis that muslim countries discriminate against women, even though they do.

    2)Chechnya, Bosnia and Israel- in both cases the media is strongly pro-musim in the West, however this is overlooked in this case.In a case where the media is pro-Muslim this book simply ignores the fact.

    3) Afghanistan and Pakistan:to islamist states where blasphemy is illegal, where a woman can be beaten by her husband and where a woman who is raped can be killed by her family.WOnderful, and if the media reports these things then the media is anti-Islamic, becuase it dared to report something that might make westerners who are used to this 'colonial' idea that women are equal, wonder about Muslim societies where they are not.

    The myth is clear and the argument is clear.90% of Muslim countries have laws that discriminate against women.For the media to report this would be wrong becuase then westerners might getthe idea 100% of Muslims discriminate against women.Since this is the basic argument here then probably the conclusion should have been that no culture should ever be allowed to report about another culture since by doing so the one culture might be coompared to the home culture and thus it would be biased reporting.Total nonsense.

    Seth J. Frantzman ... Read more

    Isbn: 0679758909
    Subjects:  1. Europe    2. History - General History    3. Islam    4. Islamic History    5. Mass Communication Media And Society    6. Media Studies    7. Middle East - General    8. Public opinion    9. Sociology    10. United States    11. World - General    12. Current Events / General   


    $10.50

    The War for Palestine : Rewriting the History of 1948 (Cambridge Middle East Studies)
    by Eugene L. Rogan, Avi Shlaim, Charles Tripp, Julia A. Clancy-Smith, Israel Gershoni, Roger Owen, Yezid Sayigh, Judith E. Tucker
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (16 February, 2001)
    list price: $23.99 -- our price: $23.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (8)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Worthless
    It has been a while since 1948, when five Arab nations launched an attack on Israel.The purpose of the attack was not to protect anyone.It was to obliterate human rights of Jews in the region.In effect, the Arabs were fighting for pride while the Jews were fighting for their lives.Not surprisingly, the Jews fought harder.And the Jews won.

    Now some scholars have decided that the time has come to deny all this and rewrite this history, claiming not only that the Jews were arrogant aggressors, but that most Jews conspired to tell the same lies about it.It certainly serves no purpose to blame the victims of the Arab invasion in such a manner.If the cause the authors are fighting for loses, what will they have accomplished?If their cause wins, they will have struck a very counterproductive blow against scholarship, justice, and human rights.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting material plodding book
    Israel has won most of the propaganda battles over the story of its formation and its version of history has come to dominate current thinking. In recent years ironically a group of Israeli historians known to the world as the Revisionists have been exploring this history and suggesting that previous histories are inaccurate self-serving myths.

    This book is an attempt to look at the war that gave rise to the creation of Israel as a state. The book is a collection of articles and with the exception of one article written by Benny Morris is rather leaden and academic never the less it raises some interesting issues. The last chapter by Edward Said moves away from academic objectivity and is a bit of pro-Palestinian propoganda but the other articles are interesting.

    The basic foundation myth of Israel is that following the United Nations passing a motion supporting a partition plan, hostile Arab states invaded the area and were defeated by a heroic outnumbered Israeli army. Local Arabs reacting to calls from the invading powers left the area to become refugees. Their plight was self inflicted their claims to have their property returned were thus somehow illegitimate or irrelevant.

    What the book shows is that most Arab states were reluctant to intervene and were not in a position to do so effectively. What in fact happened was that two wars occurred. The first prior to May 1948 saw the Haganah crush the local Arab forces. This led to strong pressure for the surrounding Arab states to intervene. However the surrounding states for their own reasons were reluctant to do so. Syria was more concerned about possible aggression from Jordan. Jordan had been busy negotiating a secret deal with Israel to occupy those parts of Palestine which were designated Arab. The Egyptians did not have the military capacity to launch a military action and it only occurred when Farouk overruled objections of his military commanders. At all times the Haganah had an advantage in numbers and was soon able to gain a decisive advantage in heavy weapons.

    Benny Morris again shows that the flight of the Palestinians was not due to mythical broadcasts and his new essay is a significant departure from his earlier work suggesting that violence played a greater role than he previously suggested.

    The book also makes it clear how the war altered the history of most of the Arab states. The failure of the Arab armies destroyed the legitimacy of those regimes who took power after de-colonisation. This in turn led to military coups in most Arab countries and started a tradition by which the military routinely became involved in politics. It also distorted the economy of these states as arming for further wars with Israel became a significant priority.

    An interesting if book although it is rather dry and distinctly non riverting.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Not very good
    I recommend "War and Remembrance" by Israeli historian Yehoshua Porath in the summer 2002 issue of Azure on the subject of this book. The revisionist historians in it have attempted to tell "new" history of Israel and consider the entire previous historical record to be propaganda for the Zionist cause. In this book, Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, Rashid Khalidi and Edward Said consider Jewish conduct in the 1947 and 1948, how the Jewish people defeated seven Arab armies, if the Jewish people were outnumbered and if they intended to expel the Arabs.

    They dismiss all pre-revisionist Israeli history as a "quest for legitimacy," not honest accounting. That's pretty wild, because as Porath says Israeli universities and professors have supported views like these "for some time now" and have been honest about Israeli history. Yigael Alon and Israel Galili wrote the Book of the Palmah that gave Walid Khalidi material to argue in 1959 that the Dalet Plan was "the master plan of the Zionists" for wholesale expulsion of Palestinians and the 1973 History of the Hagana included the Dalet Plan's whole text.

    Porath says the charge that Israel carried out a deliberate and systematic expulsion of the Palestinian Arabs is not "remotely substantiated by the extensive research that has been carried out in the last few decades."

    They take material very selectively from the fringes of Israeli archives. Based on that, Porath says anyone could "make outrageously false claims"-- that Israel's victory resulted from "an imperialist conspiracy or an overwhelming advantage in manpower and arms." He says that is what these editors do, and I believe him, since he knows the Israeli record as well as any historian alive.

    The book says the Arabs failed because they had no unified command, allying all the Arab forces. They were driven apart by intense disputes between their nations and the Arab regimes were afraid to send large forces to the front. That's not news. As Porath points out, it has been in traditional histories by people like Nathaniel Lorch and Meir Pa'il for a long time.

    A chronology on the book's first few pages lists November 30, 1947 as "outbreak of civil war in Palestine." Porath says it would be more proper to call the `civil war' "an assault upon the Jewish civilian population undertaken by the Palestinian Arabs" after they rejected the UN Partition Plan passed and accepted by the Jewish people the day before.

    This book wants readers to think that 100 Arabs killed at Deir Yassin was the only massacre. It wasn't. Porath mentions other massacres too--the December 30, 1947 murder of about 50 Jewish Haifa refinery workers by their Arab co-workers and the April 13, 1948 massacre of more than 80 Jewish doctors, nurses and Hebrew University workers on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem.

    Rashid Khalidi's essay on Palestinian Arab failure in 1948 covers Jerusalem Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, not very politely. Here's another oversight. Husseini was, in Porath's words, "an ardent and influential supporter of the Nazis and the Holocaust." A day after Hitler rose to power, Husseini gave Jerusalem's German Consul "his blessings in the name of `three hundred million Muslims'," and urged the Nazis to take the whole world. He spent "much of the war" with the SS and Heinrich Himmler and in 1943 and 1944 talked Himmler out of trading Jewish lives for millions of dollars and military hardware. The Jews were murdered and at Husseini's request, the Nazis promised genocide for the Jews of Palestine, too.

    Porath's review points out another of Khalidi's oversights. The Jewish defenders of the Etzion Bloc who surrendered to the Arab Legion of the Kingdom of Transjordan were treated under formal rules of war. But nearly all the 131 people who surrendered to Palestinian Arabs were murdered. Only two survived.

    At the same time, Jordanian forces in Jerusalem removed from the city all the Jewish residents, numbering about 100,000. Porath wonders if anyone could "seriously examine the war of 1948" without noticing that a significant Arab minority stayed in the part of Palestine that became Israel, while those parts of the country that fell under the Jordanian or Egyptian rule "became Judenrein."

    In another essay, Avi Shlaim considers the number of fighters on each side. Porath calls it "a remarkable study in scholarly distortion." By taxing itself to the limit, Palestine's Jewish community managed to gather 35,000 soldiers by mid-1948, a number that reached 95,000 by early 1949. That compared to 25,000 Arab fighters. Shlaim claims Jewish fighters outnumbered Arabs at every stage of the war. Porath says this is not true. "Shlaim himself admits that the Arab states sent only a small portion of their armies" to Palestine and could have sent far more had they wished.

    Besides that, Porath tells us that Shlaim "ignores the huge difference in manpower reserves available to each side." By early 1949, Israel had at most 750,000 Jewish residents, compared to 50 million in the 7 Arab states in the war. Israel's Jewish people had taxed themselves to the maximum. The war had ground their small economy and "vital industries" to a halt. But "the Arab states, by comparison could have fought the war indefinitely without seriously affecting their citizens' way of life."

    Finally Columbia University professor Edward Said offers a personal account of his family's departure from the Talbieh neighborhood of Jerusalem. Porath says this is most useful in its unintended effect. Traditional Israeli histories always claimed that urban Palestinians left their homes voluntarily as they wearied of the war. Khalil al-Sakakini provides one of the best such accounts of his family's departure from Katamon in Jerusalem, but there are many others in the Israeli and British sources of the time. Porath says that Said's account "matches the testimonies of Sakakini and many others like him, and serves therefore to confirm further the traditional account."

    I didn't like this book at all. But if I had any doubts, Yohoshua Porath sealed it for me. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0521794765
    Sales Rank: 227388
    Subjects:  1. Arab-Israeli conflict    2. Historiography    3. History    4. History - Military / War    5. History: World    6. Israel-Arab War, 1948-1949    7. Middle East - General    8. Middle East - Israel    9. Military - Other    10. Asian / Middle Eastern history: postwar, from c 1945 -    11. History / Middle East    12. Palestine    13. World history: postwar, from c 1945 -   


    $23.99

    The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 (Cambridge Middle East Library)
    by Benny Morris, Roger Owen, Edmund Burke, Michael C. Hudson, Walid Kazziha, Rashid Khalidi, Serif Mardin, Basim Musallam, Avi Shlaim, Malcolm Yapp
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (24 February, 1989)
    list price: $45.00
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    Reviews (18)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Not the whole picture
    Readers interested in Benny Morris should read Israeli historian Yehoshua Porath's "War and Remembrance" in the summer 2002 issue of Azure. Porath adds to the Oct. 1995 and April 1990 discussions by Robert Satloff and Shabtai Teveth in Middle Eastern Studies and to Efraim Karsh'sexcellent book, Fabricating Israeli History. Don't read this book without looking at these critiques.

    Why? Morris et al tell readers they have written "new" history of Israel, considering the entire previous historical record as if it were solely propaganda for the Zionist cause. Here, Morris considers Jewish conduct in the 1947 and 1948, and why the Arabs fled.

    Morris claims to be the first person to have looked at Israeli archives on the Dalet Plan, a plan to move populations in certain areas. Nevertheless, other scholars show that Morris and his peers in this book misrepresent themselves and the facts.

    Firstly, Yigael Alon and Israel Galili, in The Book of the Palmah, gave Walid Khalidi material to argue in 1959 that the Dalet Plan was "the master plan of the Zionists" to expell Palestinians wholesale. Furthermore, the 1973 History of the Hagana (by Uri Millstein) included the entire Dalet Plan text. Official or not, these 1959 and 1973 Israeli Jewish histories, very shortly after the the 1948 war, did not hide what happened, as Morris claims here.

    Morris also writes that Arab government archives were closed to his research and and to other historians writing on the Israeli-Arab conflict before him. He writes that he relied on Israeli and Western archives. But Porath, Karsh, Satloff and Teveth all show that this is not the case.

    Furthermore, Morris did no research at the Hagannah archives or those of the IDF, a fact underlined by Efraim Karsh in 2002, and one which he admits in a more recent book (The War for Palestine). Morris now writes that in the mid 1980s both those archives were closed to all researchers after all. He writes, he was limited to few first-hand military materials, indicating that there is no "new" research here at all.

    Morris' charge that Israel carried out a deliberate and systematic expulsion of the Palestinian Arabs isn't even remotely substantiated by extensive research done since the mid 1980s. On the contrary, Morris takes material very selectively, from Israeli archive fringes and makes what Porath terms "outrageoulsy false claims"-- that Israel's victory resulted from "an imperialist conspiracy or an overwhelming advantage in manpower and arms."

    Indeed, Morris writes here that Arabs left Israel because of many factors, their departure was not the fault of the Jewish people alone. Then, he contradicts himself, giving those who hate Israel grounds to blame Israel for the exodus, without considering the other circumstances.

    This book also details a so-called "massacre" in 1948 of Arabs at the village of Deir Yassin, but not enough to mention that the incident was actually a battle--in which most Arabs killed (like those in Jenin in March and April 2002) were armed.

    Finally, Morris does not note (by comparison) other massacres in 1948--of Jews, by Arabs. On December 30, 1947, for example, Arabs murdered some 50 Jewish co-workers at the Haifa refinery. On April 13, 1948, they massacred over 80 Jewish doctors, nurses and Hebrew University workers on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem.

    Additionally, nearly all of the 131 people who surrendered at the Etzion Bloc were also murdered by Palestinian Arabs. Only two survived.

    These latter Arab massacres of Jews do not fit the blame that Morris seeks to lay at Jewish feet. Nor does the fact that Jews did not afterwards flee, as occurred on the Arab side following the battle at Deir Yassin. So Morris omits them.

    I also find it disturbing that the book nowhere mentions the equal refugee claim of 1 million Jewish refugees from 22 Arab nations, who were expelled with nothing but the shirts on their backs, and rebuilt their lives in Israel, the U.S., and Europe.

    The number of Jewish refugees was actually larger than that of Arab refugees (counting only those who fled, not their descendants). Honest history would have noted these parallels as well as the entire context of the war.

    --Alyssa A. Lappen

    1-0 out of 5 stars Paid Advertising for the Occupation
    I am disappointed that someone who calls himself an academic and historian could call this book a balanced piece of writing. Although anti-semitism is rightly universally reviled, Morris has no qualms in stressing the intrinsic inferiority, and even non-humanityof the indigenous Arabic population of what has become greater Israel. As an apologist for ethnic cleansing, and a revisionist-for-hire of the history of the bloody creation of his state,he has no peer.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Well researched and unbiased
    Mr. Morris lays out the particulars of a very intricate and sensitive issue with adeptness rarely seen. This book doesn't puport to be the final word but a factual statement of the matter at hand.

    A must read for those wishing to learn more about the Palestinian and Israeli issues that are as relevant today as when this book was written.

    If not more so! ... Read more

    Isbn: 0521338891
    Sales Rank: 505591
    Subjects:  1. History - General History    2. Middle East - General    3. Politics/International Relations    4. Asian / Middle Eastern history: postwar, from c 1945 -    5. History / Middle East    6. Middle East    7. Refugees   


    A History of the Crusades: Volume 1, The First Crusade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
    by Steven Runciman
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (03 December, 1987)
    list price: $26.99
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    Reviews (12)

    5-0 out of 5 stars On The Crusades, The Best Is Still Good Enough
    Sir Steven Runciman's monumental study has held its appeal for over 50 years.These books have two main merits beyond the author's literary gifts.As a Byzantinist, he situates the Crusades in both European and Middle Eastern contexts, giving due attention to Muslim Arabs and Turks, Greeks, Armenians and other Eastern Christians, and he uses Eastern sources quite well.Most other histories simply treat the crusading era as an episode in Europe's development.Runciman's richly rewarding narrative combines storytelling with analysis of historical controversies.It is not a complete tale of the Crusades, since he omits wars against Muslim Spain, Eastern Slavs, Christian heretics, and crusading episodes after the fall of Acre in 1291.But this "limited" focus on the eastern Mediterranean makes the work tighter and more coherent; later historians like J. Riley-Smith and K. Setton retain much of Runciman's analytical framework.Volumes 2 and 3 on the Kingdoms of Jerusalem and Acre are also superb, but they seem less novel after the unprecedented events of the First Crusade. The most intriguing alternatives on the Crusades present non-Christian views, e.g. A. Maalouf, "The Crusades Through Arab Eyes" and F. Gabrieli, "Arab Historians of the Crusades." A. Oz, "Crusade" is heartrending fiction about First Crusaders' zest for massacring Jews en route to the Holy Land.

    1-0 out of 5 stars A great example of why people dislike history
    I purchased these books laregely based on the recommendations here at Amazon.However, I was extremely dissappointed in them.I stopped reading after book one.Perhaps my problem was in my expectations.I was looking for an excellent narrative on the crusades.These read more like a reference/text book.

    The pages are THICK with information.However, the failure of the author is that he just doesn't "tell" the story.In a single page he can introduce 5 locations and 10 people, 8 of whom are dead before the page is finished.If you are looking for detailed information on the crusades, I can only assume that it is likely in these tomes.If you are looking for the story of the crusades, you won't find it here.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Worst of Both Worlds
    This, with volumes II and III, is the definitive history of the Crusades.Runciman refrained from opinion, but is very clear about the background of the Crusades. From the first century, the Holy Land was in Christian hands, and Christians and Jews dwelt together in relative peace. In the eighth century Arab Muslims conquered the Holy Land, but mostly left Christians and Jews alone to live their own lives. But toward the end of the first millenium, Seljuk Turks moved into this area and persecution began.Pilgrimages, which had been conducted from the first century were forbidden, and it was dangerous for Christians to enter the domain of the Turks.
    The main story begins with the call of Pope Urban for an army to take back the Holy Land so that pilgrimages might resume.Runciman shows how the pope's vision was not to be implemented. Almost the only armies that responded were Franks from what is today France and Germany. Those Franks had undergone mass baptism several centuries earlier when their king, Clovis, had been converted. Their conversion appears to have been incomplete, and they were not only warlike, but accustomed to raiding their neighbors, looting and killing and destroying the land. On their way to the Holy Land they passed through the Christian country of Byzantium and caused no end of trouble for the Byzantines. When they arrived in the Holy Land, they drove the Muslims out and established several "Christian" kingdoms which endured in an unstable peace until the Muslims grew stronger and reconquered the land and drove out the Frankish princes.As C. S. Lewis remarked, after reading Runciman's account, both sides were a bunch of thugs, except for Saladin. ... Read more

    Isbn: 052134770X
    Sales Rank: 240410
    Subjects:  1. Crusades    2. Europe - General    3. History    4. History - General History    5. History: World    6. Medieval    7. Medieval World History (Circa 450 - Circa 1450)    8. Middle East - General    9. Reference    10. History / Middle East   


    No God but God: Egypt and the Triumph of Islam
    by Geneive Abdo
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 September, 2000)
    list price: $27.50
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    Editorial Review

    In a book of first-rate investigative reporting, Geneive Abdo uncovers the hidden side of Egypt's so-called Islamic threat. The Arab world's only secular state, Egypt is the West's trophy in the area's power politics, yet insurgent Islamism has been a constant threat to this status. While the West and Egypt's own government have focused on the importance of exterminating Islamic militants, a quiet revolution has transformed the general population. Abdo, news correspondent for British publications, dons her veil and interviews the varying faces of Egypt's newly devout Muslims. By the time Abdo has traipsed from Cairo slums to elite college campuses, from influential professional organizations to a den of militant activities, it is clear to anyone willing to see that Islamic organizations have been good to the majority of Egyptians, who have been locked out of Egypt's corrupt government. Yet Abdo also questions the implications of Islam as a political solution, and the answers can be disturbing. With Egypt viewed as a vanguard of the Middle East, No God but God cannot be ignored. --Brian Bruya ... Read more

    Reviews (8)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Geneive Abdo has written a fabulous book
    After laboring through Mary Anne Weaver's thinly reported Portrait of Egypt I was starting to think that the Ikhwan and Gama'at movements were impossible to report on -- a special challenge in a country where the absence of authoritative sources and straightforward government-sourced information makes reporting on ordinary events a challenge.

    Yet Geneive Abdo has succeeded brilliantly.Perhaps her Arabic fluency made the decisive difference, although to read the book is to see the many difficulties she faced in getting her subjects to speak.Perhaps she is just very persistent.Hre comments about dealing with the Egyptian bureaucracy alone are worth the price of the book.The book is very readable but also highly detailed and carefully footnoted.

    Definitely worth a look.I would pass on Weaver's A Portrait of Egypt, however.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A book well-written
    As an Egyptian who came to America I was amazed by an American who had such a clear view and analysis of what is going in Egypt, and I hope many American and non-Egyptians would read her book. She tried (with a great success) to let her readers be "Egyptians" in their view to what is happening in their country. Her best conclusion, and which she, intelligently, leaves to the reader to conclude, is that a grassroots solution is always much more effective (and democratic) than an imposed solution (where the solution here is having an Islamic society)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very impressive, but biased
    Abdo's work is very impressive and timely. While Abdo has made clear a clear distinction between Orthodox and militant Islam, she seem to have been completely unreceptive to other genuine forms of Islam such as Sufism or moderate Islam. As such, she has adopted a narrow view of Islam, that of Orthodox Islam or Brotherhood's Islam and saw all others as either secularists or militant.

    The Jest of Abdo's findings of the non violent nature of the vast majority of Fundamentalist or Orthodox Moslems was very well presented in her first chapter. Her analysis of the multitude of educated and affluent women willingly taking up the veil was enlightening.

    Most fascinating was Abdo's contrast of the situation in Iran to that of Egypt, and how the non-political social Islamic movement in Egypt has produced a more religious society than the Political imposed from above Islam of Iran

    Most disappointing is Abdo's failure to represent the alternate pious views of Islam in Egypt, views that accept the religion but see a separation between Government and religion. Such as separation, contrary to Abdo's reading of history is more than the norm of an Egypt that had separate roles for the Sultan, and the Caliph for centuries ... Read more

    Isbn: 0195125401
    Subjects:  1. 20th century    2. Egypt    3. Government - Comparative    4. History    5. Islam    6. Islam - General    7. Islam and politics    8. Islam and state    9. Islamic Government    10. Middle East - Egypt    11. Politics/International Relations    12. Religion    13. Religion - World Religions    14. 21st century    15. Political control & influence    16. c 1990 to c 2000   


    History of the Arab Peoples
    by Albert Hourani
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 April, 1992)
    list price: $16.99 -- our price: $11.55
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    Reviews (24)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting Primer on the Arab Peoples!
    I read the negative review of one listed reviewer who said he took two months to read the book.Two Months!!!!!I read it in two days!This book is a very good maybe even better than good book about the Arab peoples.I am a novice at all this history so I still don't firmly comprehend it all, but this book was a great introduction.I can build on the knowledge I gained in this book and read more indepth books and articles later.I highly recommend this book and it may be more comprehensible if you read it faster.I hardly think you have to do it in two days, but two months??????!!!!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Reference Text
    If you're looking for an entertaining narrative about Arab history, Hourani's book is not for you. However, if you are a student of any aspect of Arab culture or history, this is an essential reference book. First of all, the history is explained succinctly and readably. It addresses important historical figures and events, as well as broader themes and movements, and is also divided usefully. Second, and most important, the index is AMAZING. It is a text book, and is therefore not to be read all at once. But as a text book, it is one of the best I have ever purchased.

    5-0 out of 5 stars a history of the people
    When Hourani titled his book, "History of the Arab Peoples," he was being honest and literal--- the book is literally a history of the peoples, including the development of their interpretations of Islam, the formation of various schools of thought on the Islamic law and how literally it was to be interpreted, the conflict between secularism and fundamentalism and nationalism in the post-imperial period.

    This is not a book about wars, nations, or heroes: the Crusades are barely mentioned, Salah-al-Din gets scant mention, as do Timur, the Mongols, or other great conquerors mythologized in Western poetry and children's stories. Rather, this is a book about society, about urbanization, about economic migration, about the development of political and national consciousness, about the development of literatures, about the use of colloquial versus classical Arabic in poetry, about the rise of Ottoman bureaucracies, and the basis of their legitimacy and power.

    In short, this book is a history of the peoples: what shaped their intellectual development, the history of their cultures, etc. I think this is the right emphasis, because the political history (at least for the past 100 years) was mostly imposed by outsiders and is therefore (in my opinion) superficial, and is still in a state of fast flux and definition (e.g. what will be the political outcome in Iraq?), whereas a study of the core Arab / Islamic identity seems to be a more solid foundation from which one can attempt to understand the political structures that have been built. Put another way, Hourani's book will never go out of date, whereas a book that attempted more to explain the current politics of the Middle East would only survive as long as the next treaty or revolution. Yes terrorism is completely unemphasized, but that is appropriate to the purpose of this history, and does not diminish from its importance or usefulness at all: you will not achieve any understanding of the Arab peoples by studying terrorism, but you will go a long way toward understanding terrorism by studying the history of the Arab peoples.

    I agree with previous reviewers that more exposition of the differences in the Islamic schools of thought would have been helpful, as would have been a glossary (versus having to flip to the first reference to that word in the text). I would have also liked more emphasis on scientific, technological, financial and economic innovation, as opposed to the emphasis mostly on philosophical innovation. The treatment of debate on the proper role of logic and argument in the study of Islam is quite good. Finally, the author adopts a secular, non-Western viewpoint that is quite refreshing and appropriate. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0446393924
    Sales Rank: 90862
    Subjects:  1. Arab countries    2. History    3. History - General History    4. History: World    5. Middle East - General    6. World - General    7. History / Middle East   


    $11.55

    A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
    by KAREN ARMSTRONG
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (09 August, 1994)
    list price: $15.95 -- our price: $10.85
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    Editorial Review

    Armstrong, a British journalist and former nun, guides us along one of the most elusive and fascinating quests of all time--the search for God. Like all beloved historians, Armstrong entertains us with deft storytelling, astounding research, and makes us feel a greater appreciation for the present because we better understand our past. Be warned: A History of God is not a tidy linear history. Rather, we learn that the definition of God is constantly being repeated, altered, discarded, and resurrected through the ages, responding to its followers' practical concerns rather than to mystical mandates. Armstrong also shows us how Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have overlapped and influenced one another, gently challenging the secularist history of each of these religions. --Gail Hudson ... Read more

    Reviews (145)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Religious or not, this book is a must-read
    I have read the book several times and one idea always catches my attention: Montheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) replaced the idea of "Faith" with "correct belief". This seems to be the root cause of religious tensions existing in the world today. Monotheistic religions do not just maintain that they are "correct", they also stress on the fact that all other religious (faiths) are "incorrect beliefs"....
    Read this book, you'll pave your own path to understanding your beliefs.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Informative
    Well written, encyclopedic in its aspirations; this book is a bit too dry and pedantic for my tastes.

    5-0 out of 5 stars BANNED in Malaysia
    According to a article I clipped in KL, Malaysia during late April 2005, "A History of God" and Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet" both by Karen Armstrong were just banned under the Printing and Publications Act 1984 (Amended) 1987. The possession, printing, reproduction, sale and distribution of the publications were prohibited and offenders could be jailed for 3 years or fined RM20,000 or both.

    Any book banned by the same government who banned the Bible (in one native language and later recinded the ban) should be seriously considered for reading. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0345384563
    Subjects:  1. Biblical teaching    2. Comparative Religion    3. Comparative studies    4. God    5. History    6. History of doctrines    7. Religion    8. Religion - Commentaries / Reference    9. Religion / History   


    $10.85

    War Without End : Israelis, Palestinians, and the Struggle for a Promised Land
    by Anton La Guardia
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 June, 2002)
    list price: $25.95 -- our price: $17.13
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    Editorial Review

    In 1905, an Arab journalist and Ottoman official observed that two important phenomena were rising in the corners of the Turkish Empire: the awakening of Arab nationalism and efforts by European immigrants to found a Jewish state in Palestine. "Both of these movements are destined to fight each other continually," he concluded, "until one of them wins." So it has seemed, and the title of British journalist Anton La Guardia's book speaks volumes: for the last century, when the children of the Diaspora began to return in numbers to Palestine, two visions of that "promised land" have battled for supremacy, with no apparent resolution in sight--as witness the daily headlines. La Guardia charts the origins and course of the long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, remarking that much of it owes to all-too-human causes (the humiliation of the Arabs over having been defeated so often and so decisively in five decades of warfare; the mutual hatred of Arafat and Sharon) and offering thoughts from both sides on how peace might be reached, short of the annihilation of one or the other combatant. Those who themselves struggle to comprehend the news from the Middle East will find La Guardia to be a reliable, illuminating guide. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

    Reviews (15)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Mostly good, but author's bias peaks through ever so subtly
    In general, a very good read by a well-informed and articulate writer.Maybe the best book on the subject since "From Beirut to Jerusalem."And the author is very good in exploring the inner minds of a lot of his subjects, his review of history is more informative than Friedman's was.However, I think that in spite of his honest attempts to write a balanced account, the author does not always succeed.His sympathy for the Palestinian cause, conscious or subconscious, resides in many of his pages.For example, it is interesting that almost all inconsistencies of Israeli policy over the last several decades are carefully reviewed and enumerated, but no similar critique is leveled at Arafat (with the exception only single reference to him as being unreliable).In discussing some of the reasons that led to the collapse of the Oslo process, the author omits what could possibly be the biggest one of all.He described the scene where Arafat rejected Barak's offer because it would have led to his funeral.What the author fails to mention is that Arafat never made the tough political decision Rabin had made to tell his people that they would have to reach a compromise with Israel.Instead from 1994 on the told them that one day they will have Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa, and the rest.He was an irresponsible leader who promised something he could never deliver, who raised expectations of his people to a point where they could never be satisfied with any proposal that an Israeli politician could put forth and win a referendum on.Arafat's position in front of the Palestinians in 1994-2000 effectively precluded any possibility of a compromise final settlement.Yet in this entire work the author does not mention this once.Neither does he mention Arafat's famous doubletalk: one thing in English, another in Arabic.

    In describing various Israeli inequities towards the Moslem holy places, the author manages to complete omit the fact that in 1948-1967 no Jew was allowed to approach his holy places at all.

    An interesting example is provided by the author's description of the aftermath of the massacre of praying Palestinians by Dr. Goldstein -- a despicable crime and a truly low point for the settler movement.The author mentions that after Goldstein was overcome by the Palestinians, they began clashing with Israeli soldiers even though Goldstein was a lone shooter. The author appears very upset about the fact that the soldiers "for some reason... made a provocative appearance" at the hospital and then put the town on curfew even though it was the Jew who committed the crime in this case.But are curfews not usually imposed on a rioting city?Are soldiers not typically deployed to protect a hospital in a city beset with violence? The curfew had nothing to do with the shooting, but it had everything to do with the Palestinian riots that started immediately afterwards.The better question to ask is why "for some reason" the Palestinians "made a provocative appearance" on the streets and attacked the Israeli soldiers and settlers, who had nothing to do with the morning shooting.

    The author does not miss a chance to call Israeli explanations "excuses;" its leaders are "corpulent" (Sharon) or former "terrorists" (Shamir), yet such labels are attached to Arafat. Reading the author's account of Camp David 2000, one might believe that it was Barak, not Arafat, who was responsible for the fiasco.Barak was too tough and confrontational, apparently, in spite of putting forth a stunningly generous offer (the best offer Israel could ever give), but Arafat merely was"suspicious." But I digress...The book is good, read it, but look for the author's opinions encroaching on history here and there; caution is warranted!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Opinionated yet valuable history of 20th-century Palestine
    A combination of history and journalism, La Guardia's useful and readable book covers the formation of Israel, its recently immigrated Jewish populations, and the exiled or (to risk a loaded word) subjugated, mostly Islamic, Arab natives. While the book sketches the historical events of the last two millennia that led the world to the current impasse and describes the rise of Zionism and its role in the creation of the state, the bulk of its pages focuses on events since 1948.

    Discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become so heated that it is surely impossible to write a book that would satisfy even a plurality of readers, much less most of them. La Guardia is not impartial: on the whole, his sympathies tend to lie with the plight of the Palestinians (and part of this bias may well be unavoidable, considering the disadvantaged David vs. well-armed Goliath nature of the conflict). Yet he also understands the motives, emotions, and events that supported both Zionism and the formation of a Jewish state early in the first half of the twentieth century.

    His blunt criticisms are equally harsh, directed at the international blindness that seemingly pretended that Palestine was an empty territory before and especially after World War 2, the incendiary Israeli policy of permitting settlements amidst Palestinian territory, the anti-Semitism tainting the Palestinian cause, the intractable religious fanaticism that infects both sides. Furthermore, he is scathing in his criticism of both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. For example, he excoriates Arafat's cynical manipulations, his administration of "a fiefdom in his own image," and his "laissez-faire attitude" to Palestinian violence. Similarly, he disparages Sharon for his role in the Phalangist massacre of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Although extremists of either stripe will undoubtedly disagree, La Guardia's biases inform rather than contaminate his reporting.

    The journalistic aspects of the book yield its one major shortcoming. Instead of presenting the history of Palestine/Israel in some linear fashion, his chapters divide his materials, very loosely, into a potpourri of overlapping topics: religious background, the early immigrations and kibbutzim, a history of twentieth century events, the shadow of the Holocaust and the creation of the Palestinian diaspora (provocatively titled "Victims of Victims"), the assorted native and immigrant Jewish communities, and recent political events. La Guardia mixes interviews, historical narration, and flashbacks; since he occasionally refers to people and events before he's introduced them, the result may well be confusing to those who don't already have a general historical background.

    Written by a foreign observer with an impressive understanding of the Middle East, "War without End" is, for the most part, factually reliable--and the opinionated presentation of those facts will enlighten rather than prejudice. The reader closes the book, however, with a sinking pessimism reinforced by the book's title: that this morass really has no solution that we can expect to see in our lifetimes.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, heartwrenching account of Israel's conflict
    I can only say that this book was one of the best books I have ever read on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.Deliciously detailed and compassionately written, this book achieves its purpose: Explain the middle east crisis to those of us who don't understand it.This book enlightened me and showed me many of the 'whys'.Of course, Israel's conflict is a spiritual as well as political battle, and secular news reporters will never understand nor acknowledge this aspect of the crisis.We are not given much food for thought in the religious arena but we are given much in the geo-political/social arena.An excellent book to be sure for anyone interested in the land of milk and honey. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0312276699
    Subjects:  1. 1993-    2. Arab-Israeli conflict    3. Contemporary Politics - Middle East    4. Influence    5. International Relations - General    6. Jews    7. Middle East - General    8. Middle East - History    9. National characteristics, Isra    10. National characteristics, Israeli    11. Politics - Current Events    12. Politics/International Relations    13. History / Middle East   


    $17.13

    Women in the Middle East: Restoring Women to History (Restoring Women to History)
    by Guity Nashat, Judith E Tucker, Judith E. Tucker
    Paperback (01 July, 1999)
    list price: $12.95 -- our price: $12.95
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    Isbn: 0253212642
    Sales Rank: 574176
    Subjects:  1. Africa - General    2. Africa, North    3. Ethnic Studies - General    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: World    7. Middle East    8. Middle East - General    9. North Africa    10. Social Science    11. Women    12. Women's Studies - General    13. Women's Studies   


    $12.95

    The Politics of Dispossession : The Struggle for Palestinian Self-Determination, 1969-1994
    by EDWARD W. SAID
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (30 May, 1995)
    list price: $18.00 -- our price: $12.24
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    Reviews (5)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Possession
    It is remarkable how relevant these essays seem still, even as they lead up to the era of the Oslo process, in the frozen present since 1967, or 1948. Sorting out the myths of the Arab-Israeli conflict can be a full-time job, and that's the problem. Said's witnessing of the issues since 1967 has always been one component of the unfolding tragedy. The Arab-Israeli conflict sometimes seems in a time warp, and the relevance of these essays endures, whatever one's perspective. Said's acerbic commentary seems to hover over the decades, and his personal account, to start the book, is a permanent record of those who endured the juggernaut.

    1-0 out of 5 stars He misses not a single cliche
    It is easy enough for a celebrity columnist to throw together his entire output of op-eds and other short pieces over 25 years, label them 'essays' and present the results as a consistent narrative, but for this type of enterprise to succeed the author needs to exercise rigorous control over the quality of the output. Said has not done this, and thus has produced an incompetent, mean-spirited and frequently abusive collection.

    The consistent theme running through the book is the cliche that the troubles of the world may be attributed to the United States and Israel. In the interests of maligning the world's leading democracy, there is no tyrant so base that Said will fail to enter a plea of mitigation for him. Said even applies his balm to Saddam Hussein, whom he describes - in a sort of obligatory throat-clearing - as 'deeply unattractive ... has suppressed personal freedoms' (you don't say), but cannot avoid blaming the United States for. Apparently, Saddam is 'neither mad nor ... an unlikely figure to emerge out of the desolation that has characterized recent Arab history.' And who is responsible for the desolation? Well, here comes the 'radical chic' catechism of the supposed iniquities (including, in reality, many noble and humanitarian acts, such as the defeat of a murderous thugocracy in Grenada and the institution of free elections there) of the US, faithfully trotted out. This type of thing is both a feeble substitute for serious political analysis and a deeply patronising approach to the non-western world. Contrary to Said's sly anti-Arab insinuations, the rulers of Iraq, Iran, Syria and the other nightmare states are free agents perfectly capable of making their own independent decisions; unfortunately, unlike the statesmen of the US, Europe and Israel, they exercise their choice to persecute and execute their political opponents, oppress women and homosexuals, and foment terrorism.

    If the political analysis of the book is weak, the style is turbid and tendentious. Said appears to be insecure about his own intellectual status, because he repeats the word 'intellectual' like a mantra and expounds his views not through exegesis but by abuse. He hurls imprecations at, among others, an astute journalist, Thomas Friedman, and an outstanding Middle East scholar, Fouad Ajami, as 'belong[ing] to the genre of celebrities'. ... In truth, Said's political writings in this book are little more than an attitude furiously held to: before you start reading, you know with complete certainty what view he will enunciate. One dispiriting example will suffice. Rather than engage in a serious critique of, or display a proper moral revulsion at, terrorist violence, Said propounds the - if you will excuse the metaphor - exploded notion of a countervailing 'state violence' that dwarfs 'private violence'. I can recommend as a succinct and eloquent refutation of this undergraduate notion Conor Cruise O'Brien's 1978 book _Herod: Reflections on Political Violence_. The violence (let us purposely call it 'force', to denote its legitimacy) of the democratic state may be applied imprudently or even immorally on occasion, but it is open, accountable, and - by the nature of the democratic process - limited in scope and target. The violence of the terrorist is indiscriminate.... Said doesn't get this, but the critical reader will - and will therefore find a better book than this to occupy him.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An Important Voice
    Thank God for Said. He explains so eloquently the Palestinian cause in a way we never hear from the maintream media. This collection of essays, though 400 pages, hangs together very well. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0679761454
    Sales Rank: 282011
    Subjects:  1. 1973-    2. History - General History    3. History: World    4. Jewish-Arab relations    5. Middle East - General    6. Middle East - Israel    7. Palestinian Arabs    8. Politics and government    9. History / Middle East   


    $12.24

    Women and Gender in Islam : Historical Roots of a Modern Debate
    by Leila Ahmed
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (28 July, 1993)
    list price: $19.00 -- our price: $19.00
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    Reviews (7)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this
    By far the best scholarly and historical work amidst the increasing number of books on this topic.Particularly interesting is the discussion of how Muslim caliphs adopted the Persian custom of having huge imperial harems.Of course, this is one of the aspects of "Muslim" culture that really tantalized the early Orientalists, as discussed by Edward Said in his book on the subject.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good history book
    This is a good book for anyone to read who doesn't know much about Islam.The author gives several chapters of in-depth history of the rise of Islam.It is interesting to read--not dry and boring like a lot of other detailed history books.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and informative.
    Leila Ahmed gives a brilliant and informative read about the history of women in Islam.Her book maintains both factual information along with anecdotal pieces which only enhance our understanding of the lives involved in the religion and politics of Islamic civilisations.While the book focuses on Egypt, it should be understand that Egypt is taken as a very typical regime with the exception of perhaps Morocco and Saudi Arabia as polar extremes.Ahmed clearly has a humanistic objective of equality in all her points, though never too harshly.The book carries a very clear picture of issues and can even help a lot of us consider what Western false concepts of female equality we truly have. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0300055838
    Sales Rank: 60488
    Subjects:  1. Arab countries    2. Attitudes    3. General    4. History    5. Middle East - General    6. Muslim women    7. Sexism    8. Social conditions    9. Sociology    10. Women    11. History / Middle East   


    $19.00

    Beirut Blues
    by HANAN AL-SHAYKH
    Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 July, 1996)
    list price: $12.95 -- our price: $10.36
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    Reviews (6)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Poignant novel of dilemma to remain in a war zone
    "Beirut Blues" is a thoughtful reflection of the decision to remain home, when home has become a war zone and the dominant concern has been reduced from an abilty to plan for a better future, to being able to survive today without being killed. This book is a haunting portrayal of living in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war. Many Lebanese immigrated during those years; knowing that leaving they had a possibilty of returning when the conflict ended.

    The main character of the novel, Asmaran is a single Lebanese woman, who has many opportunites to leave the country. Most of her friends and loved ones have left, and physically it would be easy for her to move to a safer nation until the dangers in Lebanon pass. One recieves the impression that she is well educated and relatively affluent, so that suporting herself elsewhere would be perfectly feasible.

    The story is expressed through letters that she writes to people about her daily struggles and her debate about remaining in Lebanon. Some critique the writing style for being initially confusing to the reader, but I thought that the format creatively demonstrated the turmoil that one experiences when witnessing the end of the only way of life that once has ever known, and never knowing why such things occurred; the struggle to find meaning in it all and retain sanity in an absurdly insane situation.

    Unfortunately, the torment that the dilemma posed to Asmaran is not anomalic to the people who lived in Beirut during the war. Urban warfare is predicted to be more often to modus operandi for conflicts in the future. This novel is essential to comprehending the plight of many who live in war zones, and was written by an author from Beirut. The novel also helps us respect better the gravity with which many refugees have made the decision to leave their home land and seek solace in ours.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Praised far beyond its worth
    I agree with another reviewer who called this book "long, confusing and boring". Not only did I not relate or empathise with the main character, Asmahan (an upper-class woman purposelessly travelling back and forth between Beirut and her family's country village), but I also found the description of her relationships to others (friends, lovers, family members, etc.) to be vague and insufficient. You never get to fully understand her actions and motives, much less her feelings. The book, which consists of letters written by Asmahan to such an unlikely cast of recipients as her friend Hayat, the war, Beirut and Billie Holiday (?), among others, drags on forever, without adding to your knowledge of either the characters or the political context. I finished it out of sheer stubbornness, and regret not having paid enough attention to previous reviewers.

    A further comment (though in all fairness not concerning the book's quality) should be made in relation to the preposterous comment on the book's front flap, which says: "With the critical and commercial success in the U.S. of her two earlier books ... Hanan al-Shaykh's standing as the Arab world's foremost woman writer has been confirmed". Are we supposed to take this seriously? I should believe that Ms. al-Shaykh's standing as an Arab female writer ought to relate to the quality of her writing first of all, and - if any commercial element must be introduced at all - then to the sales of her books in that very Arab world whose foremost novelist she is supposed to be (an assertion which this book should call into question, by the way). American arrogance has been at work here. Would great sales in Arab countries make an American writer "the U.S.'s foremost"?

    3-0 out of 5 stars Difficult to rate
    This novel poses complex problems for the reader, and there fore I find it difficult to give either a straight positive ranking or negative one. If you are interested in understanding the inner workings of the mind of someone who is living in a war-ravaged society, then this book is excellent. But if you are reading it to understand more about Lebanon's bloody history and civil war, you won't find much here...it's really focused on the thought processes of its protagonist, Asmahan, and if you don't bring to the book existing knowledge of the place or the conflict, you won't learn anything. Therefore, I'd really recommend it only to those who know the backdrop of Lebanon's civil war. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0385473826
    Sales Rank: 480023
    Subjects:  1. Fiction    2. Fiction - General    3. Literary    4. Fiction / Literary   


    $10.36

    Perceptions of Palestine:Their Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy (Updated Edition with a New Afterword)
    by Kathleen Christison
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 October, 2001)
    list price: $19.95 -- our price: $19.95
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    Reviews (9)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent.. and yes, the truth hurts
    To those who call it anti-semitic, Arabs are semitic too, so drop it.. it's getting old. Everytime a book shows the truth about Israeli aggression against Palestinians it is called anti-semitic, untrue, and bias. Go there and see for yourself.

    The only way to peace in the Middle East is through peace between Palestinians and Israelis and this book shows a side that no one wants to hear.

    1-0 out of 5 stars More anti-semitic drivel from an anti-Israel wacko
    The Palestinian crusade against Israel is fueled by deception, anti-Semitism, Islamic terrorism and the unapologetic rewriting of Middle East history. The pages of this book clearly show this and prove to us why the Palestinians are doing so bad in the PR game.

    Aside from the obvious bias attitude of the author (she is married to an anti-Israel writer) this book is simply revisionist history, in which the true story is not good enough to tell their children, so they decide to rewrite it to their liking.This book is propaganda filled with lies and ridiculously false statistics, don't waste your time or money with this junk.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Garbage ...
    There is nothing objective about this book. The author subscribes to one-sided, conspiratorial views on events in the Middle East. According to author, the failure to achieve peace in the Middle East only has to do with some behind the scenes machinations by "Zionist Lobby", This is the same old, recycled garbage continuously put forth in the Middle East by the Arabs and in the West by the likes of various radicals - from National Alliance to Noam Chomsky and Co.

    The author completely ignores the facts of constant war and terrorism that's been imposed by the Arabs on Israel from its very day of inception. The author also ignores the refusal by most Arab world to recognize the right of Israel to exist. The author refuses to admit that it is the Arabs' militant, intolerant attitude towards Israel that is at least partially responsible for the continuation of this conflict and not the other way around. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0520217187
    Sales Rank: 460020
    Subjects:  1. History & Theory - General    2. International Relations - General    3. Political Science    4. Politics - Current Events    5. Politics/International Relations    6. 20th century    7. Asian / Middle Eastern history: from c 1900 -    8. International relations    9. Palestine    10. USA   


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