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Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism [Hardcover]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   556
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.75" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.5"
Weight:   2 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 23, 2007
Publisher   Prometheus Books
ISBN  1591024846  
EAN  9781591024842  

Availability  4 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 24, 2016 05:57.
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Item Description...
This is the first systematic critique of Edward Said's influential work, Orientalism, a book that for almost three decades has received wide acclaim, voluminous commentary, and translation into more than fifteen languages. Said's main thesis was that the Western image of the East was heavily biased by colonialist attitudes, racism, and more than two centuries of political exploitation. Although Said's critique was controversial, the impact of his ideas has been a pervasive rethinking of Western perceptions of Eastern cultures, plus a tendency to view all scholarship in Oriental Studies as tainted by considerations of power and prejudice.
In this thorough reconsideration of Said's famous work, Ibn Warraq argues that Said's case against the West is seriously flawed. Warraq accuses Said of not only willfully misinterpreting the work of many scholars, but also of systematically misrepresenting Western civilization as a whole. With example after example, he shows that ever since the Greeks Western civilization has always had a strand in its very makeup that has accepted non-Westerners with open arms and has ever been open to foreign ideas.
The author also criticizes Said for inadequate methodology, incoherent arguments, and a faulty historical understanding. He points out, not only Said's tendentious interpretations, but historical howlers that would make a sophomore blush.
Warraq further looks at the destructive influence of Said's study on the history of Western painting, especially of the 19th century, and shows how, once again, the epigones of Said have succeeded in relegating thousands of first-class paintings to the lofts and storage rooms of major museums.
An extended appendix reconsiders the value of 18th- and 19th-century Orientalist scholars and artists, whose work fell into disrepute as a result of Said's work.

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More About Ibn Warraq

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Ibn Warraq is the highly acclaimed author of "Why I Am Not a Muslim, Defending the West, Virgins? What Virgins?" and "Why the West Is Best." He is also the editor of "Which Koran?, Leaving Islam, What the Koran Really Says, The Quest for the Historical Muhammad," and "The Origins of the Koran."

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1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory > General   [8246  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > Middle Eastern > General   [102  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Edward Said: Prophet of victimization  Oct 21, 2008
Edward Said's blaming the West and its "Orientalism" for all the problems of the Arab World has provided much fuel over the years for demagogues and refusniks throughout the middle east and has thus contributed to the continued backwardness of that region. His "victimization" mantra has been especially devastating to the Palestinians and their aspirations for statehood and international recognition. Since, by playing the "victimization" card and the scapegoat card, which is what Edward Said's "Orientalism" is all about, the peoples of that region have failed to see what is really wrong with their societies and have therefore failed to take any meaningful actions to remedy the situation. Anger towards the West (and the resultant terrorism) then becomes the only option. Sadly too many in the West, especially in academia, have also bowed down at the altar of Edward Said and elevated him to the status of prophet--or even deity--for telling them what they wanted to hear, which in turn has only provided all the more fuel for the victimizationers and scapegoaters in the middle east. However, Ibn Warraq brilliantly puts everything into perspective and totally demolishes Said's thesis. If one does nothing else they should read chapter 8 "The Pathological Niceness of Liberals, Antimonies, Paradoxes, and Western Values." While the entire book is most noteworty, chapter 8 should be required reading by every person in the West who has any desire at all to see our civilization survive the 21st century. To sum up, the research that went into this book is mind boggling, and every point he makes is thoroughly documented. Scholarly, yet accessible to the non-scholar.
On "intellectual terrorism"  Apr 6, 2008
The book is OK (like any book, I guess), but Ibn Warraq is way too serious about the subject, in my view. It is understandable, considering the impact of Said's "scholarship".
But, still, Edward Said is not an "intellectual terrorist". I think there is a difference between terror and pogrom. To call Edward Said a terrorist, or an intellectual, would be as ridiculous as to call Trofim Lysenko a scientist, or a biologist. Terrorist have to hide his intentions. Pogrom is done with a certain assurance of impunity. That's exactly what Edward Said have done.
I guess there is some point in refuting Said's ravings. But overall it looks a little bit odd: really, if you are normal, you wouldn't go to a clinic for mentally ill for some quarrels or intellectual discussions. There are doctors or nurses for that.
Affirming the West  Feb 17, 2008
For 25 years, many leaders and candidates have accepted the willful misinterpretation of Western history instigated by Columbia University's infamous late professor, Edward Said. Western civilization could greatly benefit if current presidential hopefuls read this bromide of a book, identifying the damage Said caused---and providing a curative.

Politicians here gain a yardstick to measure Western cultural grandeurs (including intense self-criticism)---compared with ongoing social dysfunction, disintegration and horrors over 1,400 years of Islamic history.

Colleges requiring students to read Edward Said's Orientalism should also require this 24-karat tome, rebutting Said's flawed evaluation of the West---what Ibn Warraq identifies as inadequate methods, incoherence, tendentious interpretations---and amusing, but dangerous "historical howlers."

He credits Said for courage and self-criticism---in disparaging Arab writers insisting "the Jews never suffered..., the Holocaust is an obfuscatory confection created by the Elders of Zion," or supporting criminal French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy.

But Orientalism's "pernicious influence" made Arab and Muslim self-examination---especially criticism of Islam within the West---nearly impossible, Ibn Warraq shows; it "taught an entire generation ... the art of self-pity," blaming all Arab and Muslim miseries on "wicked imperialists, racists and Zionists" whom Arabs and Muslims almost universally blame for their failure to reascend.

Alas, Said neglected historical Islamic imperialism---from Mohammed's invention of "one true faith" through the 17th Century, with reprises whenever wealth, time and war materiel sufficed. Petrodollars fueled the recent Islamic renewal of this effort---via "modernized" Muslim Brotherhood ancient Islamic strategy, supremacist jihad---and aggressive 21st century financial jihad through "shari'a finance."

Terror-advocating "experts" like former Pakistani Shari'a Court jurist, Taqi Usmani set Islamic banking standards for the MB construct that was established to promote Islamic supremacy. Usmani serves on the shari'a board of Saudi Arabia's terror-funding Dallah al-Baraka; in July 2007 he advised U.K. Muslims to live peacefully only until they acquire military strength to "establish the supremacy of Islam." Syrian Abdul Sattar Abu Ghuddah is a senior-level advisor to al-Baraka.

Christian, and not an Islamic scholar, Said nevertheless "bludgeoned into silence any criticism of Islam"---adding late-modern inadmissibility to ancient Islamic shari'a tradition: Muslims (or non-Muslims) criticizing Mohammed or Islam are guilty of blasphemy, punishable under Islamic law by death.

Ibn Warraq shows innumerable Western to Islam. Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz avowed, "Napoleon's campaign" ushered Egypt from "centuries of obscurantism" into modernity, including discoveries of pre-Islamic Egypt, which now anchor Egypt's tourism.

Said held, "the Orient was viewed as something inviting French interest, penetration, insemination--in short colonization...." He ignored the German, Russian, Italian and Western Jewish scholars who created Islamic, Middle Eastern and Arabic studies, thereby gutting his thesis.

Ibn Warraq finds Westerners and Western history and thought characterized by "three tutelary guiding lights,"--rationalism; universalism; and self-criticism. Pursuing truth and knowledge, Westerners accepted others and all humanity--and consistently criticized societies to improve them. Sir Jadunuth Sarkar credited the English with India's 19th century Renaissance---a mass-recovery from 500 years of Muslim jihad invasions (1000-1525), when an estimated 80 million Hindus perished.

But Islamic orthodoxy remains "suspicious of `knowledge for its own sake'." Unlimited intellectual inquiry is "dangerous to the faith." The 2003 Arab Human Development Report thus found fewer books translated into Arabic in the last 1,000 years than Spain translates in one year; Greece (population, under 11 million), annually translates five times the foreign books as all 22 Arab nations combined (population, 300 million).

Arab and Muslim pleas for assistance often brought Western "imperialists" to the Middle East to start with, Ibn Warraq notes. Sultan Selim III declared Jihad after Napoleon's 1789 Egyptian conquest---joining the infidel British and Russians to protect his imperial territories from the French. In 1804, the Ottomans got territorial guarantees from Russia and Austria; In 1809, they again allied with the British. In 1866, the Sultan permitted Suez canal construction, against British and French objections. Egypt's Khedive Ismail nearly bankrupted his protectorate---and in 1875 sold the Suez to Britain for its £4 million nominal value to unwind debts. Only reluctantly, the British helped quell riots that followed---yet the Sultan refused Britain's request that he repossess canal ownership.

Said ignored historical evidence, mimicking superficial French "existentialists, structuralists, deconstructionists and postmodernists" methods, and "grandiose theories" supported by "flimsy history or empirical foundations." Said's signature work displays "laziness and arrogance" of a literary man lacking time for empirical research or need to prove his results.

Said offended worst by neglecting comparisons. Using them, Ibn Warraq affirms the West.

Said excoriates Western slavery. But Muslim traders were far more culpable. From 1700 to 1929, Arabs traded over 17 million black slaves---including 1.5 million who perished crossing the Sahara; little over 11 million crossed the Atlantic. The Occident outlawed slavery. Muslims saw Western abolitionists as "a threat to their very livelihood but also as an affront to their religion."

Tenth century Arab geographer al-Maqdisi described "Zanj," Bantu-speaking East Africans, as "people of black color, flat noses, kinky hair and little understanding." A 10th century Persian treatise called Africans "people distant from the standards of humanity." A 13th century Persian wrote, "the ape is more teachable and more intelligent than the Zanji." Islamic social scientist, economist and philosopher Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406) argued, "Negro nations" submitted to slavery since they "have little [that is essentially] human and have attributes that are quite similar to those of dumb animals..."

Even "tolerant" Ottomans perpetuated slavery through tradition and religion---and lacked an abolitionist movement, write Ehud Toledano and Turkish historian Y.H. Erdem.

Ottomans also manufactured and traded eunuchs--boys castrated throughout southern Europe, North Africa and the Near East to maintain large Ottoman harems for the upper classes. Following "total removal of testicles and penis," eunuchs suffered extensive hemorrhaging and death rates upwards of 90% in sub-Saharan and west-central Africa.

Every Middle East scholar and library should own this book.

--Alyssa A. Lappen
A brilliant analysis  Feb 2, 2008
Ibn Warraq, author of other brilliant and explosive books such as Why I Am Not a Muslim finally deals the death blow to Edward Said's mythmaking Orientalism (Penguin Modern Classics).

It is a needed critique because so many in the academy have been seduced by Mr. Said. Edward Said was a Anglican Arab raised to an upper class family that lived the life of the jet-set, travelling back and forth from mansions in Egypt, Lebanon and Jerusalem. Said, after his upbringing that included Armenian and Jewish servants, went on to claim that the west was racist for daring to write about the history of the 'East' from a western perspective. He claimed that only Muslims could tell Muslim history and only Arabs could write Arab history.

Warraq shows that not only was Said wrong in asserting that western portrayels of the 'east' were racist, but that in most cases the west romantisized the east and accepted it and learned from it. This is most true today when most western scholarship never critiqus the Koran or the 'east' but instead accepts all the myths it has itself created. This incisive and wonderful book dares to break down these myths and explode them.

Seth J. Frantzman
Collections housing Said's work need this rebuttal.  Jan 6, 2008
DEFENDING THE WEST: A CRITIQUE OF EDWARD SAID'S ORIENTALISM is the first in-depth critique of a work that for three decades has received nearly unanimous recommendation and discussion. Said's thesis was that the Western image of the East was biased by colonialist attitudes and racism: this reconsideration offers a powerful rebuttal to college-level audiences, surveying misinterpretations in Said's original survey of scholarly literature and providing college-level collections strong in history and culture with a fine reinterpretation. Collections housing Said's work need this rebuttal.

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