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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The late Edward Said often intimidated his critics with the false charge of racism. He more then hinted that only those who perceived dark skinned people to be inferior might possibly disagree with his conclusions. Ibn Warraq brilliantly shows him to have been an intellectually shallow and not altogether honest writer. At the very best, to be blunt, Said was a second rate mediocrity. He took full advantage, however, of the politically correct cultural zeitgeist dominating our so-called best universities. It is also very fair to accuse Said of slandering great scholars merely for being white skinned Westerners. The author takes him to task in a very careful and detailed manner. This book is not in any way a cheap shot attack on the memory of Edward Said. I dare anyone to find even one substantial mistake in the entire book.
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...
This is a fine book by "Ibn Warraq." Rather than merely point out a few errors in Ed Said's "Orientalism," it launches into a full-scale defense of the West.
In my opinion, Ed Said was not the first human being to write an untruth, merely the first to put so many untruths in print. And while "Orientalism" is indeed ghastly garbage, one has to wonder about those on university campuses and elsewhere who have taken it seriously. Obviously, "Orientalism" should not be banned just as the words to the "Horst Wessel lied" should not be banned. But one would have to wonder about a university professor who, for political reasons, taught his class the Horst Wessel lied. And I have to wonder about the teaching of "Orientalism" as if it were scholarly work rather than trashy propaganda. As the author of "Defending the West" tells us, quoting Clive Dewey, "Orientalism" clearly touched "a deep vein of vulgar prejudice running through American academe."
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