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More than three decades after its first publication, Edward Said’s groundbreaking critique of the West’s historical, cultural, and political perceptions of the East has become a modern classic.
In this wide-ranging, intellectually vigorous study, Said traces the origins of ‘orientalism’ to the centuries-long period during which Europe dominated the Middle and Near East and, from its position of power, defined ‘the orient’ simply as ‘other than’ the occident. This entrenched view continues to dominate western ideas and, because it does not allow the East to represent itself, prevents true understanding. Essential, and still eye-opening, Orientalism remains one of the most important books written about our divided world.
From the Iranian hostage crisis through the Gulf War and the World Trade Centre bombing, the West has been haunted by a spectre called ‘Islam’. As portrayed by the news media – and by a chorus of government, academic and corporate experts – ‘Islam’ is synonymous with terrorism and religious hysteria. At the same time, Islamic countries use Islam to justify unrepresentative and often oppressive regimes.
In this landmark work, for which he has written a new introduction, one of our foremost public thinkers examines the origins and repercussions of the media’s monolithic images of Islam. Combining political commentary with literary criticism, Edward Said reveals the hidden assumptions and distortions of fact that underlie even the most ‘objective’ coverage of the Islamic world.