This landmark book, first published in 1978, remains one of the most influential books in the Social Sciences, particularly Ethnic Studies and Postcolonialism. Said is best known for describing and critiquing "Orientalism", which he perceived as a constellation of false assumptions underlying Western attitudes toward the East. In Orientalism Said claimed a "subtle and persistent Eurocentric prejudice against Arabo-Islamic peoples and their culture." He argued that a long tradition of false and romanticized images of Asia and the Middle East in Western culture had served as an implicit justification for Europe and the US' colonial and imperial ambitions. Just as fiercely, he denounced the practice of Arab elites who internalized the US and British orientalists' ideas of Arabic culture. Peter Ganim's narration gives the work an elegant and knowledgable voice.
©1978 Edward Said (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
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I had heard of Orientalism for many years -- it was on my feel-guilty-because-I-haven't-read-it list. I was more or less shocked to see that Audible was offering it -- unabridged, yet. What shocked me further is that its vitality grabs you by the throat from word one. I'm sure that part of the effect is produced by the superb narrator, but most of it must come from the impassioned yet inescapably logical author. i'll never think the same way about people in the non-rich world again.
In the academic world, this book has become well-known and influential that a realistic estimate of its impact has the sound of hyperbole. That makes it worth reading in the same way as Plato's _Republic_ or Machiavelli's _The Prince_; you may not agree with all or even much of its arguments, but there's much value simply in knowing what these ideas are that so many people are thinking and talking about.
For those who don't know the book, it describes the connections between how European empires (and the US, somewhat) controlled the Middle East politically, fantasized about it, and studied it, arguing that these were all aspects of the same structures and processes. It suffers from a certain amount of contradiction and one-sided argument, but I think that when Said was writing in the 1970s the other side of the argument--the pro-colonialist side--was more frequently heard than it is now.
Another reviewer complained that he quit after listening for 45 minutes and finding that it was all generic political arguments. I think that reviewer never got past the new preface, which does go on for something like 45 minutes. The preface was added around 2004 and is mainly a fairly standard critique of the US invasion of Iraq from the perspective of its early years. There's no solution but to be patient and wait for the book itself to begin.
I've had a print copy for years and never got around to reading it, but am finding the audio version pleasant going. Said's writing is much clearer and jargon-free than many of his admirers--he is a scholar of literature, after all. The reader does well enough to keep my attention, and handles fairly well the French words that show up regularly. There are times when he sounds exactly like a computer-generated voice reading text, but his reading doesn't put me to sleep.
Thank you! THANK YOU!!
I want to thank you, Audible, for give scholars the opportunity to have their books in audio.
Edward Said deserves it.
I am really looking forward for the next publications. I hope there's more Edward Said coming!!
Please, the Audio Book field have reached an academic level that you, Audible, has the responsibility to fill this gap. More Academic Books! Please! and "Bravo" for Edward Said!
I guess an earlier reviewer, David Newcastle, Australia, has a couple or so critics here. He titled his review: "Tautological and terribly tedious..." Because of the importance of this book, I am approximately 2/3 the way through Professor Edward Said's seminal work; forcing myself to listen on. Little doubt there is validity to the professor's charge, European Orientalists (many) were motivated by racial supremacism and intolerance of oriental or asiatic peoples from which I originate. I am hoping to read the late professor's take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Actually it is Israel's conflict with the greater Muslim world which does not recognize the need for a sovereign Jewish state in Dar al-Islam - the territory of Islam. I remember the media accounts of Professor Said in southern Lebanon joining protesters by throwing a stone at Israeli soldiers just across the border. Said and President Obama were acquaintances or friends. There are pictures of the two families dining together. If you like recondite. If you like abstruse scholarship, you will love this book!
Unfortunately, I couldn't bear to continue listening to this after the first 30-45 minutes. I had come to it enthusiastic and interested to learn. What I remember of the small amount I was able to tolerate was that the author offered a few trite ideas described with the aid of a thesaurus. Rather than try to define clearly what he wished to communicate, the author seemed to seek many different ways of describing a few, very general notions. Instead of clearly communicating any single idea, the author appeared to be using the book to grope for some hoped-for-profundity he seemed convinced was in his verbal soup somewhere, if only he were fortunate enough to stumble over the right sequence of words. There are many more productive ways of spending one's time than listening to this.
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