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The Cartoons That Shook the World [Hardcover]

by Jytte Klausen
2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 13, 2009 0300124724 978-0300124729

On September 30, 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Five months later, thousands of Muslims inundated the newspaper with outpourings of anger and grief by phone, email, and fax; from Asia to Europe Muslims took to the streets in protest. This book is the first comprehensive investigation of the conflict that aroused impassioned debates around the world on freedom of expression, blasphemy, and the nature of modern Islam.


Jytte Klausen interviewed politicians in the Middle East, Muslim leaders in Europe, the Danish editors and cartoonists, and the Danish imam who started the controversy. Following the winding trail of protests across the world, she deconstructs the arguments and motives that drove the escalation of the increasingly globalized conflict. She concludes that the Muslim reaction to the cartoons was not—as was commonly assumed—a spontaneous emotional reaction arising out of the clash of Western and Islamic civilizations. Rather it was orchestrated, first by those with vested interests in elections in Denmark and Egypt, and later by Islamic extremists seeking to destabilize governments in Pakistan, Lebanon, Libya, and Nigeria. Klausen shows how the cartoon crisis was, therefore, ultimately a political conflict rather than a colossal cultural misunderstanding.

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Editorial Reviews


Newstalk host Sean Moncrieff’s Recommended Book, November 2009

(Sean Moncrieff)

“For all its newsworthiness, the Danish cartoons affair remains obscure. Jytte Klausen…has written what must rank as the definitive account. It is a model of investigation and exposition. She demonstrates that the global ructions were not some spontaneous eruption of anger, but a campaign orchestrated for political advantage by a series of actors.”—Oliver Kamm, Prospect

(Oliver Kamm)

"The definitive account of the Danish cartoon controversy...beautifully constructed and intelligent."--Steven Poole, The Guardian (UK)
(The Guardian)

"Astute interpretive history...Klausen conveys unusual insight into the furor's geopolitical repercussions."--
Arch Puddington, The Weekly Standard
(The Weekly Standard)

“Unlike most of those who sounded off during the affair, [Klausen] has followed in detail the domestic Danish debate and interviewed many of the protagonists. In her dissection of the controversy, she nimbly dispels a string of falsehoods and misperceptions.”—The Economist

(The Economist)

“Meticulously documents the enormous diplomatic and political machinations that sprang into action to transform an editorial lark in faraway Jutland into a global campaign to censor Islam's critics.”—Ezra Levant, Toronto Globe and Mail
(Toronto Globe and Mail)

“Patient and deeply informed and seeks to complicate our understanding of an event that is easily oversimplified.”—Christopher Caldwell, The Weekly Standard
(The Weekly Standard)

“An important, thorough history of the Danish cartoon controversy, based on sound scholarship.”—David Gura, Columbia Journalism Review
(Columbia Journalism Review)

“This book is deeply researched and sensitively written. It tells a story that had to be told. A must read!” —Baroness Kishwer Falker, Member of the House of Lords

(Baroness Kishwer Falker)

“A balanced and meticulously researched account of the events surrounding the Danish cartoons controversy.  Full of valuable insights and recommendations, this is a must read for policy makers, community leaders, and all interested in good relations between the West and Muslims.”—Bhikhu Parekh, author of A New Politics of Identity
(Bhikhu Parekh)

“In this richly textured detective story, Klausen takes us with her on a journey across continents and cultures in an effort to discover why ‘twelve little cartoons’ set off one of the first truly global crises of the twenty-first century. This is an impressive work by a gifted scholar, and is the finest account yet of this little-understood episode in our collective history.”—Tarek Masoud, Harvard University

(Tarek Masoud)

“An extremely thorough and wide ranging analysis of the facts surrounding the release of the Muhammad cartoons and the international framework in which the cartoons reverberated.”—Steven Simon, Council on Foreign Relations

(Steven Simon)

"A significant contribution to understanding the events around the Danish cartoons crisis, which will undoubtedly be subjected to continuing fascination and manipulation. Klausen offers an understanding of the Danish context that no other researcher can match."--Jørgen S. Nielsen, University of Copenhagen

(J�rgen S. Nielsen)

“The Danish cartoon crisis has been described as a deep cultural clash. This fine scholarly study presents it instead as a domestic political conflict among Danish citizens that spread to the international political arena. There were many losers, Klausen argues, but no winners. This is, by far, the best analysis of these events, and certainly the most thorough.”—Martin Schain, author of The Politics of Immigration in France, Britain and the United States
(Martin Schain)

“The ‘cartoons that shook the world’ have polarized opinions and values in a war of words waged around the globe. Jytte Klausen's timely book brings facts and comparative data to make sense of a debate too often biased by passion, fantasies and false representations.”—Patrick Weil, author of How to Be French: Nationality in the Making since 1789 
(Patrick Weil)

“A definitive account of this important chapter in the contemporary encounter between Islam and the West. Klausen takes the reader behind the scenes and explores the winding roads that intersected to create the clash over the cartoons. There is simply no one better placed to write this book.”—Jonathan Laurence, Boston College

(Jonathan Laurence)

"[The book] provides valuable insights into the perceptions and misperceptions of the various players that helped create this cultural debacle."--The Forward
(The Forward)

“Klausen appraises with empathy and irony the characters and issues involved.”--Foreign Affairs
(Foreign Affairs)

About the Author

Jytte Klausen is Professor of Comparative Politics at Brandeis University. She is the author of The Islamic Challenge: Politics and Religion in Western Europe and War and Welfare: Europe and the United States, 1945 to the Present. She lives in Waltham, MA.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300124724
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300124729
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars
2.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 66 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Where are the Cartoons? Censored by Yale University Press September 30, 2009
One might think that a book titled "The Cartoons that Shook the World,"
especially a scholarly one published by an academic press, would contain
reproductions of the cartoons that are the subject of the entire book.
In fact, the original manuscript did, but the cartoons were removed
by the publisher, Yale University Press. The publisher censored its own
book because it did not want to offend anyone. The book was thus
"bowdlerized," robbing the reader of the most interesting and relevant parts.
The banned cartoons apparently can be found in a new book titled
"Muhammad: The Banned Images" by Gary Hull. Amazon deserves credit for
selling "The Banned Images" and for having more spine than
Yale University Press.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars shame on you, Yale June 24, 2010
Unbelievably, for a book about the Mohammed cartoons controversy, this book doesn't reproduce the cartoons themselves. But that's not because of copyright reasons: that's because of cowardice on the part of Yale University Press.

Boy, we sure are learning a lot about the First Amendment these days, mainly that it only protects us from the government, not our own cowardice.

Bruce Bawer is right: "If the West is saved from jihad, it will be largely a result of the uninhibited nature of free speech on the Internet."

You can count Yale out of the fight.

America, welcome to your new First Amendment: freedom of speech, as long as it's okay with the Muslims.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sad Commentary - March 21, 2010
The entire point of the book, I would have thought, is to show us the 'offensive cartoons' and thereby allow readers to understand the controversy. How can this be done without the cartoons? (Actually, they were there originally, by the publisher didn't want the controversy. So much for academic freedom, 'Freedom of the Press,' and facing the truth.)
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous February 8, 2011
By Hambone
The fact that the cartoons were censored is asinine, i hope they never sell another copy
One star because it wasnt the authors fault and the books uncensored content is very important
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
If Yale was selling cowardice, they could resolve the national debt.

How can you put together a book on cartoons that shook the world and NOT include the cartoons?? I refer specifically to the Danish cartoons that Islamofascists used as a pretext for trying to murder cartoonists. Apparently the ROP (Religion of Peace) has a very short fuse when it comes to depictions of terrorism - so naturally when you see a cartoon of Mohammad with a sizzling bomb as a turban, you prove you are the true ROP by murdering people.

Yeah, that works. For Yale Press, at any rate.

Yale Press, embracing its dhimmitude stature, actually tried to explain why they were too cowardly to do so.

So why publish the book at all?

Maybe Yale is trying to show us how the future will be navigated for those of the Yellow Stripe on the back and the yellow stain on the pant leg. That might work for them, but I'd love for some other publisher - maybe one that has men of character, courage, and cajones - to do the job and publish the cartoons as they were printed.

Yale Press should simply fold and sell prayer rugs like good dhimmis, and stop pretending they have anything to do with free, scholarly inquiry.

What an absurd farce!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disgrace February 24, 2011
What cartoons are you talking about? Oh, too afraid to put them in your book? Then write about something else---maybe a book about Snoopy.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Where are the cartoons? November 5, 2009
While the written content is interesting, overall this book falls short for one obvious reason: It does not contain the cartoons that are the subject of the book. It was like reading Moby Dick, but because of political correctness and/or sheer cowardice, all of the whale hunting passages were edited out. If you happen to see this book at your local library, leaf through it if you have nothing better to do, but don't buy it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars eff censorship
and this book does. i recommend it and its complimentary "muhammed: the banned images." you should be free to choose what you see, and not have big brother tell you what it... Read more
Published 10 months ago by casey henderson
4.0 out of 5 stars Jhaeman's Review
Klausen's book is an interesting account of the global controversy that erupted after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a collection of cartoons depicting Muhammad. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Jeremy
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite There
A very informative book, diminished only by the omission of images of the Danish cartoons which caused the uproar. Read more
Published on February 14, 2011 by Nancy T. Hernandez
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book on an important subject
This book is a scholarly yet readable account of the controversy surrounding the publication of the "Danish cartoons" in September 2005. Read more
Published on October 25, 2009 by Joseph D. Steinfield
4.0 out of 5 stars As impartial as humanly possible
It is difficult nowadays to get an objective, nuanced opinion on Islam, neither flattering nor biased against it. Read more
Published on October 11, 2009 by César González Rouco
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary analysis and defense
The controversy of the Danish cartoons has been an unusual and fascinating one, but its premise lies at the heart of Western civilization: the problem of how the West perceives... Read more
Published on September 30, 2009 by Contemporary Poetry Afficionado
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Topic From this Discussion
would an academic press refrain from illustrating any other title?
Yale is cowardly! How could you publish a book and not include the drawings. Why bother reading this book. I'll wait for the movie to come out!
Aug 17, 2009 by Kent W. Pedersen |  See all 3 posts
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