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Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism Hardcover – August 1, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; First Edition, 2nd Printing edition (August 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591024846
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591024842
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #369,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Ibn Warraq’s critique of Said’s thought and work is thorough and convincing, indeed devastating to anyone depending on Saidism. It should force the Saidists to acknowledge the sophistry of their false prophet."


"Ibn Warraq has written a brilliant and luminous book of cultural analysis and intellectual history. He reminds us of so many precious things in the West - and of it - that are worth upholding in the face of critics who enjoy Western liberties and denigrate them at the same time. This is more than a demolition of Edward Said's Orientalism: In its own right, it is an exquisite inquiry into the great ideas at play in our world."

Professor at The Johns Hopkins University
School of Advanced International Studies
Author of The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs
and the Iraqis in Iraq

"For decades Edward Said enjoyed the best that Western academic life had to offer - international celebrity, plaudits, honors and fame beyond the wildest dreams of most professors - while constantly bashing the history, values, and policies that have made this privileged existence possible. In Defending the West the eminent intellectual Ibn Warraq exposes with razor sharp precision the hypocrisy of Said's writings as well as the perverted academic culture that has made his great success possible. With this important new book Ibn Warraq has once and for all dispatched Orientalism to the dustbin of history."

Head of Mediterranean Studies, University of London
Author of Empires of the Sand and Islamic Imperialism: A History

About the Author

Ibn Warraq is the highly acclaimed author of Why I Am Not a Muslim and Defending the West. He is also the editor of The Origins of the Koran, What the Koran Really Says, Leaving Islam, The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, and Which Koran?.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

203 of 256 people found the following review helpful By David Thomson on October 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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127 of 160 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa A. Lappen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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 suffered..., the Holocaust is an obfuscatory confection created by the Elders of Zion," or supporting criminal French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy.

But Orientalism's "pernicious influence" made Arab and Muslim self-examination---especially criticism of Islam within the West---nearly impossible, Ibn Warraq shows; it "taught an entire generation ... the art of self-pity," blaming all Arab and Muslim miseries on "wicked imperialists, racists and Zionists" whom Arabs and Muslims almost universally blame for their failure to reascend.

Alas, Said neglected historical Islamic imperialism---from Mohammed's invention of "one true faith" through the 17th Century, with reprises whenever wealth, time and war materiel sufficed.
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194 of 246 people found the following review helpful By Jill Malter on November 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
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."

Ibn Warraq gets off to a good start by mentioning the aggressive tone of "Orientalism," which he characterizes as "intellectual terrorism" given that it "seeks to convince not by arguments or historical analysis but by spraying charges of racism, imperialism, and Eurocentrism from a moral high ground; anyone who disagrees with Said has insult heaped upon him." And it is disgusting, as the author points out, to see Said's hatred of the country that gave him such privileges as a tenured professor at Columbia University (a university he did much to disgrace).
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56 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
DEFENDING THE WEST: A CRITIQUE OF EDWARD SAID'S ORIENTALISM is the first in-depth critique of a work that for three decades has received nearly unanimous recommendation and discussion. Said's thesis was that the Western image of the East was biased by colonialist attitudes and racism: this reconsideration offers a powerful rebuttal to college-level audiences, surveying misinterpretations in Said's original survey of scholarly literature and providing college-level collections strong in history and culture with a fine reinterpretation. Collections housing Said's work need this rebuttal.
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40 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on February 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ibn Warraq, author of other brilliant and explosive books such as Why I Am Not a Muslim finally deals the death blow to Edward Said's mythmaking Orientalism (Penguin Modern Classics).

It is a needed critique because so many in the academy have been seduced by Mr. Said. Edward Said was a Anglican Arab raised to an upper class family that lived the life of the jet-set, travelling back and forth from mansions in Egypt, Lebanon and Jerusalem. Said, after his upbringing that included Armenian and Jewish servants, went on to claim that the west was racist for daring to write about the history of the 'East' from a western perspective. He claimed that only Muslims could tell Muslim history and only Arabs could write Arab history.

Warraq shows that not only was Said wrong in asserting that western portrayels of the 'east' were racist, but that in most cases the west romantisized the east and accepted it and learned from it. This is most true today when most western scholarship never critiqus the Koran or the 'east' but instead accepts all the myths it has itself created. This incisive and wonderful book dares to break down these myths and explode them.

Seth J. Frantzman
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