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Eqbal Ahmad: Confronting Empire [Paperback]

David Barsamian
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1, 2000 0896086151 978-0896086159 1st

"Dawn of Freedom" by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Map of South Asia
Biographical Sketch of Eqbal Ahmad
Introduction by David Barsamian
Foreword by Edward W. Said
Chapter 1 Think Critically and Take Risks
Chapter 2 Distorted HistoriesNotes
Chapter 3 Do Not Accept the Safe Haven
Selected Bibliography of Eqbal Ahmad's Writing


"Eqbal Ahmad, perhaps the shrewdest and most original anti-imperialist analyst of Asia and Africa…[was] a man of enormous charisma and incorruptible ideals…. He had an almost instinctive attraction to movements of the oppressed and the persecuted…[and] a formidable knowledge of history. Arabs, for example, learned more from him about the failures of Arab nationalism than from anyone else.… Ahmad was that rare thing, an intellectual unintimidated by power or authority."-Edward W. Said, author of Culture and Imperialism, eulogizing Ahmad in The Nation and The Guardian

"[Eqbal Ahmad] was a shining example of what a true internationalist should be.… Eqbal was at home in the history of all the world's great civilizations. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of states past and present, and he knew that states had a rightful role to play. But he also knew that states existed to serve peoplenot the other way aroundand he had little to do with governments, except as a thorn in their side. To friends, colleagues, and students, however, he gave unstintingly of himself and his time.… His example and his memory will inspire many to carry on his work."-Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations

"A very dedicated and honorable activist, Eqbal was right in the middle of everything.… He was a student of revolution and imperialism and a very good one."-Noam Chomsky, MIT

"Eqbal Ahmad was unique in combining compassion for the dispossessed-en masse and one by one; the intellectual capacity to analyze cultural, political, and economic issues on a transnational level; and an ability to raise his always eloquent voice on behalf of constructive and original solutions."-Victory Navasky, Publisher and Editorial Director, The Nation

"Fighting words, wise words, from one of the most powerful activist intellectuals of ou

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Editorial Reviews


A very dedicated and honorable activist, Eqbal was right in the middle of everything.... -- Noam Chomsky, MIT

Eqbal was a teacher, a poet-analyst, a mentor to far more of us than he knew. -- Phyllis Bennis, Insitute for Policy Studies

For [those] who have missed Eqbal Ahmad in the year since he died, this book comes like rain during a drought. -- Radha Kumar, Council on Foreign Relations

These interviews provide a wonderfully focused, yet wide-ranging compendium of Eqbal Ahmad's worldview.... -- Richard Falk, Princeton University

We have here the ideal combination for a dazzling intellectual encounter thoughtful questions by a superb interviewer... -- Howard Zinn, Boston University

Product Details

  • Paperback: 150 pages
  • Publisher: South End Press; 1st edition (July 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896086151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896086159
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.3 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,187,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
This book is very well written and an easy read (not tedious at all). Barsamian does a great job in his interviews as always (I have his interviews with Chomsky & Zinn). The first interview in this book, done in 1996, accurately predicts Islamic fundamentalism & terrorism working their way across the Middle East and their ability to topple fragile ME gov'ts and fight against the US. Eqbal also pointed out the dangers of the US (Reagan/Bush) helping out the Afghan "freedom fighters" in '81-'88 and the support of the Clinton gov't for the Taliban in order to get a safe oil pipeline.
Eqbal claims that the notion of a Middle East "jihad" was reinvented by the CIA for the Afghani/Russian war to help promote Islam fundamentalists into good little holy warriors against Communism. He claims that the term "jihad" hadn't been used much since 10th C Islam but was revived for that purpose and subsequently handed down after America abruptly pulled out of supporting Afghan & Pakistan after the Cold War. And of course now we have what is called "CIA blowback" with the WTC/Pentagon jet bombings. While I haven't fully investigated his claim on the CIA bringing up the "jihad" to fire up the "holy warriors," a search on the web shows that there are quite a lot of articles on "jihads" post-Afghan war than before (say 1980).
It's a shame that people like Eqbal Ahmad were ignored by Pakistani leaders and Palestinian leaders as well as western leaders. Eqbal was like Cassandra crying out the truth and accurately predicting the future -- but nobody listened.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Open your eyes to the reality March 11, 2001
By A Customer
"Might is right", or a version in my native language "whoever owns the stick, owns the cow". At the dawn of the 21st century, the world is the same as it was centuries ago. The greed to be powerful is as vicious as ever. Civilization can be so uncivil! Imperialism is as alive as it ever was. Only the mechanics have changed. Eqbal fights back with the weapon of today, powerful argument.
Eqbal Ahmad speaks so factually and clearly that it is hard to defy his argument. In this book, he talks about the imperial designs of those who own the stick. One of the most profound books i've ever read.
A must read for anyone from (or interested in) the Asian Subcontinent as well as the middle east.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Musings of a good, great man January 18, 2001
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The late,lamented Eqbal Ahmad was one of the more original thinkres of our time. Friend of the oppressed,opponent of oppresors anywhere left or right, Mr. Ahmad was a clear voice of conscious and sanity in an ever increasingly insane time. The writings,taken from radio interviews on aletrnative radio,are wide ranging{from the Indian subcontinent, to Vietnam, Israel, Bin Ladin, the Cia, Gandhi, sufism.poetry,terrorism,nuclear testing etc.} Mr. Ahmad is so eriudite,so clear in his perceptions devoid of rantings of right or left, that he is, was a cool stream in this desert of factionalism. His perceptions on Jinnah are very interesting, and on Gandhi,well, you have to read them. Or better yet,these tapes are available,and then you get to hear the man speak in his beautiful,lyrical voice. A nice tribute to a seminal thinker of our age.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Eye of the Storm August 2, 2000
By A Customer
It is the work of Eqbal Ahmad as a remarkable public intellectual that has earned him a pedestal among the dissidents of our generation. This is the first book-length treatment on the ideas of Eqbal Ahmad as compiled in these masterful interviews by David Barsamian. The subject matters range from a radical analysis of middle east politics, south asian history, Western non-intervention in Bosnia, American complicity in the emergence of the Taliban-disorder, a poignant description of how he met his life-long friend Edward Said, the ideas of Fanon (whom he worked for) to a fascinating historical analysis on the syncretic tradition of Urdu poetics. This book captures Eqbal Ahmad's genius, his charisma, his urbane cosmopolitan wit - in short the "sweetness and light" of Eqbal Ahmad. Highly, highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read January 23, 2003
By A Customer
Eqbal Ahmad is a rare example of a man who struggled to live by his principles and has shown others the way by the sheer humanity and clarity of his thought. He was a true and worthy inheritor of the sufi tradition.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, clear-eyed reasoning, and very humane. November 6, 2003
This book was written by a man whose greatest committment appears to be NOT to a political party, his own self-interest, or some other more or less selfish and narrow agenda, but rather to seeing clearly, reasoning fairly, and calling a spade a spade. If you want to get the point of view of someone who is as non-brainwashed as possible, look no further. This man, at least, is sane.
It is interesting to note that he is also off the radar screens of the right-wing gang-bangers. Otherwise they would be here saying nothing and pulling the rating down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good man, a good book July 15, 2003
By Calvin
Confronting Empire is a well-done piece of work. I see a great amount of sympathy on Eqbal's part, and his ideas are life affirming. He discusses Pakistani and Indian poetry as well as geopolitics, and focuses on many areas where conflict is prevalent. Ahmad is asked how he would define his politics. "Socialist and democratic. Those have been my two lasting commitments. By democratic, I mean genuine commitment to equality, freedom of association, critical thought, and the accountability of rulers to citizens. By socialism, I mean control of the wealth by people rather than by the state or by corporations." He holds Edward Said and Antonio Gramsci in high esteem. One of many good things about Ahmad, he is always hopeful.
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