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on March 15, 2015
I would make this the first book taught in every history class. It is certainly the most informative book that I've read this year; and I read a lot of them. It was most interesting reading the Library Journal review above as anything that provokes that kind of reaction would make me want to read it. It's about time that we wake up to what is really going on with our country and this is an excellent place to start. Mr Ali is an engaging writer and the pages just flew by. I'm about 10 pages from the end and I'm going to read it again(and me with a stack of "to be read" books on my desk, ah, well). there is much to learn from this book.Inquiring minds will love it reactionaries- not so much.
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on March 7, 2015
Tariq Ali along with Robert Fisk are the two writers on " Middle Eastern Politics " that have lifted " The Mist"on what has become an ever confusing Real Politik
Effecting our understanding of where forces such as Alqueda and ISIS have been sporn.
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on August 29, 2012
I remember Mr Ali as an activist, a man who appeared to have the guts to take on issues and challenge the mainstream thinking in politics. Not an easy companion, not always right but worth hearing the discussion. In looking at the reviews of this book there was a certain predictability of responses. Not much in the `we need to understand' what is happening across the globe currently and to face some less palatable facts face on. Such as do we want to coexist in a world where the rights of women and children and those of differing opinions are invalidated to the extent of being brutalised. Fundamentalism is fundamentalism regardless of the creed. Brutalisation of people's basic rights is that no matter how it is dressed. In Australia it is how Anglo Australia confronts Aboriginal rights, how we engage in the debate on "boat people" and the many migrant groups recently taking root in this country. So, I found this book thought provoking because it challenged the bigger picture often controlled by one aspect of the debate (such as Murdoch and our middle of the road, self serving political leaders). Although I do not agree with everything Mr Ali has to say, I enjoyed that he made me think and at times uncomfortably so. As for lacking answers. I think there is. Make no mistake liberalisation in the sense of achieving emancipation and achieving basic human rights across the globe is the enemy of fundamentalism and of consumerism (the modern face of capital). Is it a worthy aim to say that the rights of women, children, the vulnerable are as important for people where-ever they are in the globe, under whatever system political or religious. I think it is, and this book left me with the impression, so is Mr Ali.
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on October 19, 2008
One can't tell a book from it's cover, but in this case, at least one can get an idea that the author has a sense of humor! Perhaps it may be well that such a serious topic as terrorism and religious fundamentalism be approached with a some humor. At the same time, it is a serious book, one of the few books on terrorism that actually delve into the roots of it all to discern a solution. The book is quite voluminous, nearly 330 pages, packed with information and deep analysis, with many notes. The author's brilliant writing style makes it an incredibly difficult book to put down. I ended up finishing the whole book over the Christmas / New Year holiday, with many sleepless nights, that is.

The book is divided into 4 major parts: one on the early history of Islam; one on the last 100 years of relations with the West, marked by colonialism and upheavals; a special part focusing on South Asia (India and Pakistan) the region about which the author is most familiar; and the last part on the United States and it's relations with the Islamic world. The book is fascinating not only because it draws upon the author's deep knowledge of the history of Islam, but also because he punctuates it with poetry and quotations from diverse literary works over the ages. The book exhibits a deep understanding of the subject, and posits a thesis directly confronting the much-touted "clash of civilizations" model. A major strength of this book, however, is that the author is daring enough not to stand with the crowd. While many intellectuals from the Muslim world do little to explain current events beyond laying the blame on the West, Tariq Ali is not afraid to look squarely at his own culture with the same critical eye he uses to examine Western imperialism.

In this day and age, I would say this is a must-read!
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on March 11, 2008
just one word for this book : marvelous.
anyone wanting to get a historical handle on the relation between the west and the middle east has to read this book end to end.
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Initially I picked up this book because I wanted some deeper understanding of the views of Tariq Ali, of the man behind the 'Islam Quintet'

What I found was a very articulate and thoughtful body of writing which provides considerable food for thought. My particular regional interest is South Asia, and while much of what Tariq Ali writes reinforces reading already undertaken his thoughtful perspectives add new dimensions.

I do not agree with all of the views expressed, but my own views will be better informed for having read them. I would also particularly recommend the interview with Isaac Deutscher in June 1967 that is reproduced as an appendix to this book.

'Moral outrage has some therapeutic value, but as a political strategy it is useless.'

Highly recommended.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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on December 8, 2007
I have owned this book for several years and find myself continuing to go back to it. I think it is imperative that any US citizen who is interested in geo-politics should include in their readings authors who are not of US origin. The perspective gained by such a study is invaluable. I have several Tariq Ali books and would recommend any of his works highly.
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on August 20, 2006
I'm sorry but I am not a Socialist as I do not share their aversion to religion and their view that religion is the opiate of the masses.

But those of you who are Socialists and anti-Imperialists (so the USSR was not an Imperialist power?),this is an interesting and thoughtful book written by a declared `unbelieving Muslim'. He identifies himself with Muslims but is an Atheist.

The title of the book is probably a reply to Samuel Huntigton's book, `A Clash of Civilisations'. He does very well to support the cause his Socialist ideology by highlighting the alleged inherent weaknesses of the Capitalist/Western system who believe in human rights as long as it supports the cause of the Western/Capitalist system. He talks a little about the Neocon influence in the world how it is damaging world politics and causing terrorist groups to form. The underlying argument presented (with furnishing of examples) is that Western Govts. Have been responsible for the problems in the world, including the recent threats from terrorist groups.

Every chapter has its value and contains a wealth of information starting from the Israel/Palestine crisis through to the crises in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. The chapter entitled, `Short Course History of US Imperialism' is very interesting and in my view is a reply to Samuel Huntingon's thesis, `Clash of Civilisation', and Francis Fukayama's, `End of History'. The Socialist response to the Capitalist scholars is short and to the point, but I don't believe it challenges the theses of both of these scholars.

The Socialist and anti-religion thread of the book is obvious. Socialists would love it. Muslims may be ambivalent. The Fukayama students and Capitalists in general may loathe this book. From an objective point of view, I give it a reasonable rating.

Hasan Ali Imam
(Ex-Parliamentary Candidate, Conservative Party)
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on August 19, 2006
I haven't read this book (yet), but the Library Journal review is outrageously stupid. Every one of the "undocumented howlers" the reviewer cites is a well-known fact. That kind of smug liberal dismissal only makes me cherish Ali's strident anti-imperialism even more. People like Holmes are far more interested in policing the left than opposing the right, and that's why they're utterly useless.
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on June 3, 2006
Alright, first of all, in response to the reviewer who stated that the author must have made up the fact that the US shot down an Iranian Passenfer jet, a quick google search yielded the following:

Iran Air Flight 655 (IR655) was a commercial flight operated by Iran Air that flew from Tehran to Bandar Abbas to Dubai. On July 3, 1988, the airplane flying IR655 was shot down by the U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes between Bandar Abbas and Dubai, killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard, including 38 non-Iranians and 66 children.

This is an interesting book that should be read with an eye toward verifying the info for one's self, don't be lazy. I disagree with the Author's view of early Islam and reccommend that anyone who reads this book, supplement it with pro-Islamic and pro Secular sources. There's a reason that mysticism in Islam was always strong, and a reason why many of the current Mullahs hate Sufi's and Mysticism. The Author's take on current Middle Eastern affairs are interesting and valuable. Just take the time to verify them because this book seems written by memory more than research, so it's good to check the validity of some of the historical statements.
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