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On Identity Paperback – July, 2000

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Editorial Reviews


The notion of identity - personal, religious, ethnic or national - is one that has given rise to heated passions and crimes throughout the history of mankind. What it is that makes each one of us unique and dissimilar to any other individual has been one of the fundamental questions of philosophy from Socrates to Freud. In this important series of reflections, the author, a Lebanese who now lives in France, where he is a well-known writer and commentator, considers how we define ourselves and how identity is understood in the world's different cultures.

About the Author

Amin Maalouf's fiction includes Leo the African, Rock of Tanios, which won the 1993 Prix Goncourt, Samarkand and Ports of Call. He is also the author of an acclaimed scholarly work, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, as well as the much admired essay, 'On Identity'. Barbara Bray has twice won the Scott-Moncrieff Prize, as well as the French-American Foundation Prize, for her translations. These include The Lover by Marguerite Duras, The Concert by Ismail Kadare, and George Sand's letters in Flaubert-Sand: The Correspondence.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Random House UK (July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860467296
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860467295
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,061,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Stephan Brühl on August 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read this book in a german translation and I think it is one of the most important nonfiction books I have found in the last years. Mr. Maalouf analyzes rigorously the dangers of religious and nationalistic fanatism, which in most cases are coming from a wrongly understood search for preservation of "identity". The German title of the book is "Murderous Identities" which reflects the intentions of the author even more clearly. Mr. Maalouf, as a Christian and an emigrant from Lebanon, living in France since many years, is an intermediary, who critically views both sides - the modern western world and the more traditional arab world. The book does not offer solutions, but it makes you think and reflect, and hopefully will help in the important process that people will better understand the other side without claiming only their own rights and needs. I had the pleasure to meet Mr. Maalouf during the Salzburg Festival 2000 where he appeared as text author for the new opera "L'amour de loin" of the finish composer Kaija Saariaho. The idea of the opera follows the book "On identity": the need of worldwide love, irrespective of religious or political identities.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By alf on September 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Llegué a esta obra a través del nombre del autor, excepcional narrador, pero nunca sospreché que pudiera encontrar una serie de reflexiones tan lúcidas y válidas para el mundo que nos rodea. Maalouf se pregunta qué es la identidad y cuáles los elementos que la rodean. Salpicado de constantes alusiones al mundo árabe que tan bien conoce, este ensayo es capaz de sacar de nuestro interior afirmaciones y convicciones que ójala estuvieran presentes en la sociedad y en las vidas que a cada uno nos ha tocado vivir. Lo mejor que todos podríamos desear es que las reflexiones y recomendaciones de Maalouf llegaran algún día a impregnar el panorama político internacional.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ziad H Katrib on November 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Its a great book to read like all Amin Maalouf's books, and very well organised. The Author clarify a lot of ethnic as well as political problems and you'll never get bored while reading it. The arab world should be very proud of Maalouf, he has indeed showed the world in his books the essence of the Arabic culture.
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