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Power, Politics, and Culture Paperback – August 27, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"I'm the last Jewish intellectual.... The only true follower of Adorno. Let me put it this way: I'm a Jewish-Palestinian," says Said provocatively in a 2000 interview in the leading Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz. A pathbreaking intellectual and renowned political activist, Said never consents to being pigeonholed. These interviews trace his thoughtful perspectives and his unflinching candor about Middle Eastern politics. A Palestinian who spent much of his childhood in Egypt, Said has long fought for the Palestinian cause and has spoken out against recent Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and against Yasir Arafat, whom he calls "unreformable." His most famous book, Orientalism (1978), explored how Western intellectuals have viewed and represented the Arab world. In the spirit of that volume, in the 1980s, Said observed how U.S. media cast "[t]he Middle East as a place whose violent and incomprehensible events are routinely referred back to a distant past full of `ancient' tribal, religious, or ethnic hatreds." Said, a literature professor at Columbia University (where Viswanathan is his colleague), has also received accolades as a literary and cultural critic. Spanning 25 years, these interviews enhance both of these reputations. The first part, concerning literary criticism and cultural theory, demonstrates Said's willingness to think outside of the box of prescribed progressive convictions. For example, as a passionate believer in combining scholarship with activism, he's unafraid to criticize academic Marxists for failing to combine theories and practice. The interviews in the second part center on Said's attempt to find practical applications for his political ideas, primarily in the Middle East. He also discusses Saddam Hussein, nationalism, Salman Rushdie's underground existence, classical music and a host of other topics. Those interested in an overview of Said's ideas and oeuvre should start with this book.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

This is a collection of wide-ranging interviews given over the past 30 years by Edward Said (e.g., Orientalism), the disting- uished Palestinian American intellectual. Edited with an introduction by Viswan-athan, professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, where Said also teaches, the book demonstrates the depth and breadth of Said's scholarship on such diverse topics as literary criticism, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and peace process, the Gulf War, censorship and repression in the Arab world, American intellectuals and Middle East politics, the music of Glenn Gould, and culture and imperialism. These interviews have previously appeared in diverse publications in the United States, Europe, the Arab world, Israel, India, and Pakistan. By bringing them together in one collection, the editor has captured Said's lifelong commitment to scholarship and political activism qualities that have made him one of the foremost cultural and literary critics of our time as well as a committed intellectual and defender of oppressed people in the Third World, especially in the Arab world and Israel. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. Nader Entessar, Spring Hill Coll., Mobile, AL
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (August 27, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400030668
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400030668
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #685,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Reda on October 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Once again, Edward Said forces respect shows the extent of his talent as cultural critic, political essayist and world observer. Few intelectuals today can pretend applying a holisitic and methodological approach to world affairs and classical music at the same time. I highly recommend this book.
Regarding the comment below by the nameless individual "nylawguy", i would just make the following remarks to reestablish the truth:
- Edward Said is no longer a member of the PLO since 1992; however, I do not see why being a member of the PLO is such a problem: PLO members have been received at the White House on countless occasions last time I checked
-Edward Said has not thrown stones at israeli soldiers since he was on the lebanese side of the border when he was pictured throwing a stone. Surprisingly enough, only the NY press made such a big fuzz out of that picture where evidently Edward Said did not aim at anyone
- If you read carefully the book, you'll see that Said is actually one of the most vocal critics of Hamas' tactics, although he clearly tries to understand what led a desperate population of several million embrace Hamas so overwhelmingly
I hope readers will take the time to read this book and draw their conclusions on their own
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45 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Roslyn Lee Hammers on August 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
For almost a quarter century, Edward W. Said, professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University, public intellactual, and Palestinian freedom fighter par excellence has worked tirelessly to bridge the gap between the personal and the political. Whether he is arguing for an end to state sponsored torture of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prison camps, the need for more democratic reform within the Palestinian Authority, or Jane Austen as a mirror of the colonial enterprise, Said never fails to enlighten and inspire. Along with Noam Chomsky in this country and Pierre Bourdieu on the European Continent, he is that rare breed: the tenured intellectual within the Academy who is brave enough to stick his neck out of the ivory tower and reconcile theoretical constructs with the political reality on the ground.
In Power, Politics, and Culture, Gauri Vishwanathan, one of Said's colleagues at Columbia, has cast a wide net and gathered interviews from India, Pakistan, the Arab World and Israel. Remarkable for their conversational quality, these interviews reflect as much the interviewers' politics and social concerns as they do Said's responses to them. True to form, Said is never reluctant to throw down the gauntlet and challenge an interviewer. Speaking with Hasan M. Jafri of the Karachi (Pakistan) Herald, in an interview conducted soon after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued his famous death fatwa against author Salman Rushdie, Said pursues Rushdie's funfamentalist detractors with the same trademark energy he might devote to castigating a Shamir or a Netanyahu. To wit: " I am an absolute believer in absolute freedom of expression. As a Palestinian, I have fought Israeli attempts to censor my people in what they can write or read.
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By HW on September 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
Edward Said rightfully sees the Muslim politicians as well as the secular leaders in the Middle East as lacking a "discipline of details". However by reading this book we have hope that some day the awakening and the current Arab Spring will prevail over the longtime dictatorships in the region. His analytical thinking helps us see specific issues with western intellectuals, academics, and the media coverage of Middle Eastern controversies. He forces us to look at "both sides" of the issues in the region not just the "Orientalist" side.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on December 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
This collection of interviews gives an excellent overview of the two sides of Edward W. Said's life and work: the literary critic and the political commentator / agitator.

Literary and music critic
From the 1970s on, E.W. Said was confronted with the postmodern (deconstruction) movement. But, he saw immediately the immense flaw in the discourse: `their criticism takes language as language and then proceeds to discuss literature as embroiled in the problems of language ... (they are) uninterested in the life of society and very far removed from the world of politics, power, domination and struggle.'
To the contrary, what moved E.W. Said were `anger at injustice, intolerance of oppression and ideas about freedom and knowledge.'
(For a devastating verdict on postmodernism, see G.G. Preparata.)
Strangely, as a musicologist, he admires T. Adorno, who shamefully dismissed the music of I. Stravinsky (the greatest composer of the 20th century) on Marxist (?) grounds.

For E.W. Said, the West's vision on the Orient is completely biased. The Orient is (was) occupied by the West, milked by the West for its resources and humanly squashed by the West.

Third World
His light beacon for the struggle of the populations of the Third World was Frantz Fanon (`The Wretched of the Earth') who analyzes the problem of how charismatic revolutionary leaders could become themselves oppressors of the `liberated' and turn into a new power elite.

Palestinian question
Here, E.W. Said is an angry man, for `without justice there cannot be peace.'
His (ir)real dream is a bi-partisan State with a Palestinian majority.
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