Criticism

Criticism

ON ISLAM

Between Memory and Desire by Stephen Humphrey
Humphrey is a professor of History and Islamic Studies at UCSB. From Amazon: “Middle Easterners today struggle to find solutions to crises of economic stagnation, political gridlock, and cultural identity. In recent decades Islam has become central to this struggle, and almost every issue involves fierce, sometimes violent debates over the role of religion in public life. In this post-9/11 updated edition R. Stephen Humphreys presents a thoughtful analysis of Islam’s place in today’s Middle East and integrates the medieval and modern history of the region to show how the sacred and secular are tightly interwoven in its political and intellectual life.”

How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization and the End of the Way on Terror by Reza Aslan
From Amazon’s Editorial Review: “How to Win a Cosmic War is both an in-depth study of the ideology fueling al-Qaida, the Taliban, and like-minded militants throughout the Muslim world, and an exploration of religious violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Surveying the global scene from Israel to Iraq and from New York to the Netherlands, Aslan argues that religion is a stronger force today than it has been in a century. At a time when religion and politics are increasingly sharing the same vocabulary and functioning in the same sphere, Aslan writes that we must strip the conflicts of our world, in particular, the War on Terror, of their religious connotations and address the earthly grievances that always lie behind the cosmic impulse.”

Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World by Robin Wright
From The Huffington Post: “…Wright is one of the most capable observers of the Middle East….her chronicles of counter-jihad, anti-militancy, and women’s mobilization are a timely contribution.”

The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam by Fatima Mernissi

Thought-provoking and easy to excerpt.

ON ISRAEL

Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & The Palestinians by Noam Chomsky
From The Boston Globe: “This is a jeremiad in the prophetic tradition, an awesome work of latter-day forensic scholarship by a radical critic of America and Israel.”

In the Land of Israel by Amos Oz
A collection of political essays. From The New York Times: “An exemplary instance of a writer using his craft to come to grips with what is happening politically and to illuminate certain aspects of Israeli society that have generally been concealed by polemical formulas.”

Still Life with Bombers: Israel in the Age of Terrorism by Dave Horovitz

ON PALESTINE

Path to Paradise: The Inner World of Suicide Bombers and Their Dispatchers by Anat Berko
From Amazon Editorial Reviews: “Berko has written an interesting book that departs from many of the typical studies of suicide bombers. Her research involved frequent and extensive conversations with Palestinians jailed by Israel for attempted suicide terrorist attacks; the author recounts, in some cases transcribes, these discussions. Equally interesting is the author’s emphasis on women’s roles in suicide bombing and, more broadly, the role that gender plays in shaping the logic and motivation of terrorism against Israel. As always, the issue of bias in the scholarship on the Arab-Israeli conflict is something to consider here, as the author was previously a career officer in the Israeli Defense Forces. However, that does not undermine the value of her interviews, which flesh out and reflect similar studies of terrorism that emphasize the role of humiliation and gender.”

“Permission to Narrate” by Edward Said
“These three words described what Said felt was most denied to the Palestinians by the international media, the power to communicate their own history to a world hypnotised by a mythological Zionist narrative of an empty Palestine that would serve as a convenient homeland for Jews around the world who had endured centuries of racism, miraculously transformed by their labour from desert to a bountiful Eden.” – quoted from the website:  http://electronicintifada.net/content/permission-narrate-edward-said-palestine-and-internet/4789

ON POST-COLONIALISM

States and Women’s Rights: The Making of Postcolonial Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco by Mounira M. Charrad
From Seymour M. Lipset: “Theoretically powerful and historically rich, this is an important study in comparative political sociology. Using the comparative method at its best to make a provocative argument about kin-based politics, Charrad gives us a new way of looking at state-building strategies.”

Western Sahara: War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution by Jacob Mundy and Stephen Zunes
From the late-Senator Ted Kennedy: “The Western Sahara is one of the world’s last vestiges of colonialism. In this thoughtful and impressive analysis, Stephen Zunes and Jacob Mundy provide valuable insights on the importance of enabling the people of the Western Sahara to determine their own future through a democratic referendum.”

ON UNITED STATES INVOLVEMENT

Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us, and Why it Matters by James Zoby
From The New York Times Sunday Book Review: “Persuasively illustrates . . .that Americans tend to project their fears and desires onto Arabs and Muslims rather than searching for common ground . . .It’s hard to deny the validity of Zogby’s larger argument. To succeed in the Middle East, the United States needs to listen more to actual Arab voices, and not let preconceived myths about the Muslim world dictate policy.”