Van Gogh, a provocative media personality in the Netherlands, was shot and stabbed on an Amsterdam street in November 2004 by a young radical, the son of Moroccan immigrants, who accused him of blasphemy against Islam. When Buruma (Bad Elements) returned to his homeland in an effort to make sense of the brutal murder, he quickly realized there was more to the story than a terrorist lashing out against Western culture. Exploiting the tensions between native-born Dutch and Muslim immigrants, van Gogh drew attention to himself with deliberately inflammatory political theater that escalated beyond control. Buruma refuses to blame the victim, though, giving equal weight to critics who insist Islam must adapt to European culture rather than the other way around, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Dutch politician who scripted van Gogh's final film, an avant-garde indictment of the religion's treatment of women. There is a strong sense of journalistic immediacy to Buruma's cultural inquiry, and if the result is a slim volume, that's because his dense, thoughtful prose doesn't waste a single word. (Sept. 11)
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The well-traveled Ian Buruma, a Bard College professor, previously published Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies (2005) and The Wages of Guilt: Memories of War in Germany and Japan (2002), among others. Buruma's account of Theo van Gogh's death was first published in the New Yorker in January 2005. The book, an expanded version of the magazine piece, is timely. Buruma receives much praise for his writing and reporting skills, though several critics comment on the book's lack of structure. Buruma's willingness to examine the story from all angles is his strength, leading in the final analysis to a nuanced understanding of the situation and an evenhanded piece on a seemingly impenetrable issue. The book suffers from this impenetrability as well: Buruma provides a record of the events but few answers to the questions he inevitably raises. But has anyone else managed to answer these questions yet?
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
Ian Buruma is a native Dutchman who teaches at Bard College. He wrote this book after the murder of Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh by Islamic fundamentalists, and with the recent... Read morePublished 4 months ago by NRL
Very illuminating description of the reason societies don't integrate easily. Presents themes that help to describe tensions between conservatives in the US and Mexican immigrantsPublished 8 months ago by Doug Schmidt
It was hard to get into this book on the murder of a Dutch media figure. I wasn't familiar with the people and most of them were pretty unpleasant, but perhaps that was part of the... Read morePublished 11 months ago by IthacaNancy
It deserves a Five Star. My problem is that to be a five star, I have to Love the book. This is not a book to be loved. It is a book to be read and be disturbed by. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jim Altfeld
Ian Buruma is a cracker-jack journalist in many regards. He provides great back-story, he can make the complexities of a political position elegantly simple, and vice versa, and... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Daniel G. Schaeffer
LOVE IT THANKS! it is very helpful for my classes this semester and I will use it often thank youPublished 19 months ago by Candance