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Comment: Condition: As new condition., Binding: Paperback / Publisher: Soft Skull Press / Pub. Date: 2010-08-17 Attributes: Book, 384 pp / Stock#: 2065783 (FBA) * * *This item qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and Amazon Prime programs! * * *
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The Sheikh's Batmobile: In Pursuit of American Pop Culture in the Muslim World Paperback – August 17, 2010

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The Sheikh's Batmobile: In Pursuit of American Pop Culture in the Muslim World + Globalization and Geopolitics in the Middle East: Old games, new rules (Durham Modern Middle East and Islamic World) + Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (August 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593762925
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593762926
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,949,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Praise for The Sheikh's Batmobile

"With insight, humor, and compassion, The Sheikh's Batmobile puts a nail in the coffin of 'Clash of Civilizations' theory. The author and subjects are equally human. If you see Ayaan Hirsi Ali, throw this book at her." —Michael Muhammad Knight, author of The Taqwacores and Journey to the End of Islam

“Poplak’s expertly-researched and beautifully-written book is one of the most important documents of the post-9/11 world.” —The National Postt

“I would read Poplak if he wrote about watching paint dry. He is a gifted addition to the exploding and increasingly sloppy literary non-fiction genre. Dark, funny, self-deprecating and poetic, Poplak is a punk Graham Greene both exploiting and being exploited by the cultures he inhabits.” —The Globe and Mail

“A heroic feat of research, analysis, and on-the-ground reportage . . . At the very least, The Sheikh’s Batmobile should shatter the Western stereotype of the Muslim world as repressive and stagnant.” —Quill and Quire

“Poplak avoids making easy connections . . . his de-embedded journalism is always open-minded and captures the uncanny perfectly.” —Eye Weekly

“Humorous, astute and vivid . . . The Sheikh’s Batmobile will leave you itching to travel, giggling and glued to YouTube, looking up references. The book is less about how Muslims view Americans as it is about discovering a shared lexicon between two cultures. Poplak’s view of popculture is nuanced, as it emerges as a mutating entity crossing national and ideological boundaries.” —The Coast

“This is a great book and despite its lighthearted title and subject matter it’s a serious book. It’s an important book too, because it promotes understanding and leaves the reader with hope that at a human level, and at a creative level, the kids are all right.” —Winnipeg Free Press

“If . . . you’re willing to join the author on his irreverent excursions to dictators’ palaces, blaring Egyptian heavy metal sessions, concerts preempted by Kalashnikov fire, and secret Batmobile laboratories (yes, the book does live up to its name), then you will doubtlessly ease right into Poplak’s narrative . . . The book is not a magnifying glass searching for Western brushstrokes on an Islamic canvas, but rather a kaleidoscope that bounces the reader's assumptions and expectations off the colorful mirrors of zestful narrative and impressive legwork.” —Wiretap Magazine

“A fast-paced and culturally savvy look at a section of the Muslim population underrepresented, if not entirely ignored, by Western media.” —Open Book: Toronto

“In the riotous, fearless, and very funny tradition of Hunter S. Thompson and Jon Ronson, Richard Poplak takes us through the looking glass and into an upside down, funhouse mirror pop culture universe where Homer Simpson drinks juice out of a beer can, batmobiles are custom-designed in a desert lair and Islamic children spontaneously recreate the video for Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello.’ In the process, Poplak gives us a mantra that unites the West and the East, the secular and the sacred: ‘Fuck you, Shrek, you big green motherfucker.’” —Nathan Rabin, Head Writer, The A.V Club, author, The Big Rewind and My Year of Flops

“Whether dissecting Indonesian punk bands or the eternal wisdom of Magnum, P.I., Poplak is everything you want in a cultural interpreter—funny, frank and utterly incapable of spewing mass market pabulum. Poplak gets beyond the cheap, superficial observations lesser writers bring to his subject, revealing himself as a genuine thinker who delivers original insight and laughs in every chapter.” —Chuck Thompson, author of Smile When You’re Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Keith Boyea on April 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
The Sheikh's Batmobile is part travelogue, part cultural investigation, and part personal exploration. Mr. Poplak visits several Muslim countries searching for the consequences of the hegemony of Western popular cultural in the region. I'm not quite sure that's right though: It is almost as if he is exploring how Western popular culture manifests itself in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, the UAE, Indonesia, Iran, Afghanistan, and others (I know I'm missing a few.)

The book is often funny, and Mr. Poplak has a penchant for finding the humor and absurdity in the ways in which American popular culture is twisted, changed, and manipulated in the Muslim world. The best chapters are the ones on the Arabic version of the Simpsons and the WWE loving kids in Afghanistan.

Some of the chapters are a little less interesting--the death metal scene in Indonesia sticks out as one of these--but the book does a fairly good job of presenting the issue. One scene in particular stuck out for me: The author was discussing the Arabic version of the Simpsons with the producer. The Arabic version scrubbed out some of the social commentary that makes the Simpsons so funny and popular in the United States. The Arabic producer asked the author (I'm paraphrasing here) "Is that all we have, entertainment?"

I've been asking myself that question many times since reading it, especially in the face of the upcoming royal wedding, Donald Trump, and the other inanities presented to us as news. It is surprising--I found an insight to our own culture in a book trying to find insights in how our culture impacts Muslim culture.
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