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Crossing Borders: An American Woman in the Middle East (Contemporary Issues in the Middle East) Paperback – August, 1999


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Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary Issues in the Middle East
  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Syracuse Univ Pr (Sd); Indexed edition (August 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815628544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815628545
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,397,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

During the 1980s, Judith Caesar taught literature in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Her aptly titled book offers one woman's view of several political powder kegs that didn't make front page news and of the clash between Western and Middle Eastern customs. An open-minded nature and curiosity about the place of women in cultures that seem wildly restrictive to many Westerners helps Caesar deconstruct stereotypes on both sides of the border. The American television show Dallas, she notes, now in perpetual rerun in many countries, has become a gold mine of misinformation on Western women. Likewise, our squeamishness about arranged marriage belies some of the inside story shared by her students. One plans to land "a good temper man" by asking a suitor's sister to reveal his true temperament. And if he doesn't have a sister? "Then don't marry him," comes the swift reply. "He has never learned about women." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 30, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I started reading this book with a feeling of, "aww, do I have to?" It was assigned for my Middle East in World Affairs class. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I couldn't put it down-- I was done with the book in the first week of the semester, and rip-roaring ready to discuss it with my classmates. This book is un-biased, objective, and completely human-- it portrays a different society of people, a whole world outside of the US-- not as uncouth, barbaric and uneducated fools, but rather as what they deserve to be seen as-- humans, who just happen to live by a different set of rules. If you want to know the Middle East-- and find out who people are there, then read this book. This gives you a true sketch. (And I say this even though I am not from the Middle East.)
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By ashasson@aus.ac.ae (Allen Hasson) on October 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is an unusually touching, humorous and introspective account of Dr. Caesar's odyssey as a literature professor in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. She has gotten into the hearts and souls of her students in a way that should appeal to anyone interested in women's issues, travel, the Middle East, English teaching, or cross-cultural studies. She has a wonderful way with humorous understatement, and shares much of herself with the reader.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
I just finished this book and I loved it. It was in with travel essay/travel narrative books, and as I liked to read about the Middle East I picked it up. I was pleasantly suprised that there was a bit more to it than just the usual I went here, did this, saw that, and aren't they odd. Caesar's book makes you think. There is an increased interest here in the US lately, (since 9/11.books are popping up all over) in how people in the Middle East live. Still despite this still most of the people I talk to unfortunately still have the sterotypical impressions from news media, of violent people with guns or of cowering oppressed women in black, etc, and everyone in the Middle East is the same. There is sooo much more too it than that and Caesar helps to show Saudis and Egyptians as real people, with real lives, personalities, intelligence, etc, caring about their families, their futures, the world around them and going about their daily lives. Its a great book. It also inspired me to read some of the books she mentions, such as Passage to India.
I do wish she had written a bit more about her Egyptian husband. She very much glosses over that part. They met, talked about books, and you next you know they are getting married. There is nothing about how it all worked out. Did his family have a problem with it? Did they live together somewhere, or did she live on the women's campus and him elswhere? It doesn't say. It kind of implies they were happy but thats about it.
I'd still give it 5 stars though.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rizal Halim on June 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Throughout the twenty century, books about the Arab world have been widely written in the English academia, with a sense of respect and criticism. One must not forget that T.E. Lawrence introduced the Arab world to the West with his magnum opus The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1935). In 1980's, the works of Nawal El Saadawi was commonly known to the English audience with one of her famous titles, The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World (1980). Some of more serious authors have also brought their study about the Arab world into public consciousness: Maxime Rodinson with his work The Arabs (1980), Albert Hourani with his magnificent work History of the Arab Peoples (1992), Halim Barakat with his book The Arab World: Society, Culture, and State (1993) or Philip K. Hitti with his short introduction of Arab world entitled The Arabs: A Short History (1996).

After September 11, books about the Arab world have flourished with a strong tendency toward criticism of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is perhaps the only country which, after the United States and Israel-Palestine, has gained much critical attention both from Arab and Western authors.

What makes Judith Caesar astonishing compared to those authors is her ability to tackle the issue of criticisms of Arab people by using primary resources and her self-criticism of Western society toward the Arab world. Her book traces her journey to the othernized world. On this journey, she carried the prejudices that have been constructed in her own society, but she came to realized that her picture and view of the Arab peoples are not completely true. As a result, she is finally capable of transforming herself to accept the differences between Arab and Western society.
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Crossing Borders: An American Woman in the Middle East (Contemporary Issues in the Middle East)
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