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People Like Us: Misrepresenting the Middle East Original Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1593762568
ISBN-10: 1593762569
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In his commanding debut, Dutch journalist Luyendijk describes the curious five years he spent as a correspondent in the Middle East, stationed out of Cairo. Sent traipsing around the Middle East, Luyendijk struggles to find newsworthy (and trustworthy) stories, usually involving bribery and less-than-honest people. Luyendijk also delivers example after example of oppression and brainwashing techniques used by dictatorships on their citizens, which comes through clearly in his conversations with ordinary people like cab drivers, as well as with high-profile public figures. Sent to the Middle East not for his journalism skills but for his ability to speak Arabic, Luyendijk had to learn on the job, an all-too-literal trial by fire. He takes advantage of his outsider position to break down the myths of war journalism and the very real limitations reporters face outside the Western bubble of free speech. The author also weighs in on 9/11 and Saddam Hussein's regime, making this an eye-opening account with special relevance for American readers.

About the Author

Joris Luyendijk was born in 1971. He studied Arabic and politics at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Cairo. In 2006, he was awarded the Journalist of the Year prize by De Journalist, selected from the top forty most influential international journalists by the NVJ (the Dutch Association of Journalists).

Michele Hutchison studied literature and languages at the Universities of East Anglia and Cambridge in England before taking a job in publishing. She worked at various British publishing houses before moving to Amsterdam, where she works as a translator and editor. In addition to Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, she has translated the Dutch novelist Simone van der Vlugt and the journalist Joris Luyendijk.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press; Original edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593762569
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593762568
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,386,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the most important books about foreign policy, the middle east, and the limits of journalism (especially, as presented in the mass media) that I have ever read. This is not a chatty account of "How I learned to love Egyptian food when I lived in the Middle East." Instead, it is a highly readable but very powerful critique of modern journalism and how difficult it is for middle eastern correspondents to provide the context (background information) necessary for readers of the news to interpret it meaningfully. How the mainstream media manipulate the news (and hence, the reader) is discussed in detail. One of several examples given presents the reasons behind the superiority of Israeli over Palestianian attempts to influence Western public opinion. Also mentioned is the difficulty in obtaining reliable information about countries under dictatorship (no one talks on the record due to fear of official retribution; the absence of reliable statistical data, etc.). The discussion of the profound difference between the absence of free speech/journalism in middle eastern dictatorships (which the USA supports) and democracies is also compelling. Finally, the author points out how journalists routinely fail to mention the diversity of views in middle eastern countries. This is a book that I am certain that the major news networks wish had never been published. Mr. Luyendijk shows what persistent journalistic dedication to telling the truth and discussing alternative views of the same issue can create: enlightenment and understanding.
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By IndyPete on February 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
The afterward to this book was written 3 years after the book was first published in Holland. In it, the author appears to be struggling to summarize what he wrote, just as I was struggling to make sense of it all after I finished reading it. But I knew what I read was important.

Even without any "lessons" or "policy suggestions," this book is worth reading simply for the ground-level insights into life in the middle east. From the mundane (where journalists live in Cairo and the jokes the locals would tell) to the detailing of dehumanizing daily events that are suffered by the repressed "common" people in the various countries where the author lived and worked. That background alone is worth the price of admission in helping to understand what is going on in the middle east today.

It is also worth reading to understand the daily dillemmas faced by reporters who care about what they write. When a government that is in a position to grant or deny a reporter's visa to cover a story restricts the access of that reporter to people and places, what is the story? Is it the supposed "news" item that the reporter went to see (which will be influenced by the one-sided information made available), or does it rightly become the restrictions placed on gathering the news, which make it impossible to write the full story? How about when a government (or business?) makes the reporter's job of meeting her deadline 'easy' by providing neatly packaged story lines? Should the pre-packaged item be the story, or should it be the prepackaging of it? Too often, it seems, the choice is made to present the (necessarily biased) news story without any indication of the constraints imposed on its telling, and thus the public is, in an important way, deceived.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The title of this excellent book is perhaps a little misleading; I think it is as much about the media and the constraints of "on the spot" reporting as about the Middle East. As the author gives us a glimpse into the reality of the basis for the articles we read in the newspaper, including his own reports, I wonder if he is writing for expiation as well as an expose'.
It is well written as a first person narrative of his own experiences in the Middle East. If you are interested in the Middle East and how impossible it is to "know" and thus report what is really happening then this I would definitely recommend this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great book you'll never look at the news as you used to. Joris shows many of the dilemmas that reporters in the Middle East face and how that influences our view of the conflicts in that part of the world
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I'm an American currently living in the Middle East and studying Arabic. This book is so helpful, it paints such a clear picture of "what" and "why" Americans think, when they think, about the Arab world. I am recommending it to all my friends and family back in the States. Hopefully it will help them see through the show that is the Western media and begin to think a little deeper about the average Arab guy and gal who really are just "people like us."
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Format: Paperback
The best book I ever read on journalism.

The best book I ever read on the Middle East.

One of the best books I ever read on foreign/media policy.

This book should be obligated for every journalist, every student of journalism, every student of foreign policy, every student of history, every student of cultural anthropology and every student of media.

This book is truly mindblowing!! Eye-opening. On of the best books I ever read.
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