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Starred Review. While a glut of recent books on the Middle East have addressed Western perspectives on the region, this excellent book emphasizes questions Arabs ask themselves. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iranian revolution serve as backdrops, but veteran Mideast correspondent MacFarquhar (The Sand Café) focuses primarily on Arab nations and a grab bag of Saudi teachers, Moroccan dissidents broken by their years in prison, individuals searching for political freedom and Muslims struggling to sustain their faith in the face of violence from within and without. MacFarquhar's approach is well-rounded; he includes less palatable facts (those who argue that the word [jihad] contains no implication of violence are glossing over the fact that for some zealots, jihad means only one thing) and facts often overlooked (when most Arabs talk about reform, they usually mean curbing rampant corruption). If America is to overcome Arabs' deep distrust, MacFarquhar suggests, it must abandon policies too often based on expediency and listen, not to its own domestic politics but to the concerns of the people in [Arabs'] own countries. (May)
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Drawing on his many years as a journalist in the Mideast, including work as Cairo bureau chief for the New York Times, American MacFarquhar starts with a detailed discussion about fatwa, jihad, Al-Jazeera, and other front-page political topics and then talks to people today in Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Libya, where he spent time as a child. He admits that his interviews focus on dissidents, diplomats, and government officials, while neglecting ordinary citizens. But he speaks Arabic, and the openness and immediacy of his on-site reporting reveals the diversity in country and culture as he explores current Arab attitudes toward the U.S., the oppression of women, the power of the Internet and satellite TV, the stifling control of the secret police, and much more. The professor forbidden to pluck her eyebrows sums it up: “They focus on the trivial . . . so we don’t worry about the big things.” Those big things will grab American readers, from religion’s blocking of science to U.S. expediency in backing the powerful and, always, to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. --Hazel RochmanSee all Editorial Reviews
I bought this copy for an acquaintance who's interested in this part of the world. I read the book a few years ago and thought it was wonderful.Published 6 months ago by M. Klett
A couple of fun anecdotes - my favorite was the efforts of his group to put together a Thanksgiving dinner in a country very foreign to this tradition indeed.Published 7 months ago by Camille
So my lawyer says "look I got some good news for you they're only going to chop off your head not your hand", How's that good news? "They were going to chop your hand off first! Read morePublished on June 21, 2013
A very interesting read. The author grew up in Libya and has covered the Middle East region for many years as a journalist. Read morePublished on May 1, 2013 by margaret black
Having a hard time concentrating on this one, would rather comment when I am through! Not really giving me what I was looking for!Published on March 15, 2013 by balc
So many books about the Mideast show a narrow point of view, from someone who spent a few years in one or two countries. Mr. Read morePublished on June 24, 2012 by kidtree
This is my favorite book on the Middle East. I almost can't imagine a more insightful, informative, and enjoyable exploration of the Gulf States and their politics. Read morePublished on July 16, 2011 by Sean Carman
I don't review items very often on Amazon, but I felt Neil MacFarquhar's book justified it.
The author draws upon his experience growing up in Libya to feed his passion... Read more
From his days as a child in an oilfield compound in Libya, to his days as a foreign correspondent for a variety of outlets including the New York Times reporting on several... Read morePublished on March 16, 2011 by N. Vaughn