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Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us, and Why it Matters Hardcover – October 12, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Persuasively illustrates…that Americans tend to project their fears and desires onto Arabs and Muslims rather than searching for common ground…It's hard to deny the validity of Zogby's larger argument. To succeed in the Middle East, the United States needs to listen more to actual Arab voices, and not let preconceived myths about the Muslim world dictate policy.” ―The New York Times Sunday Book Review

“An informative and readable book that avoids the reductionism, demonology, and victimology that all too often taint treatment of this subject.” ―Foreign Affairs

“Jim Zogby has written an essential and enlightening book on Arab opinion. Arab Voices is a must read for anyone who wants to hear true voices from the Arab world.” ―Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan

“Arab Voices is a breakthrough book. Finally, after decades of relentlessly ignorant or bigoted stereotyping of the so-called ‘Arab Mind'--often a form of anti-Semitism against Arabs--by partisans having other agendas, James Zogby responds. He presents the results of intensive polling, within historical, political and cultural contexts, in an engrossing search for accuracy, fairness and truth. Let's see if the slanted press and the wrathful cable-talk radio hosts can tolerate giving this book and its calm author a chance to correct the record.” ―Ralph Nader

Arab Voices distills Jim Zogby's lifetime of immersion in a central issue of our times--how can America and the Arab world can find the right path forward? Well-written, provocative, and peppered with vivid anecdotes and surprising data, this is essential reading for anyone seeking to penetrate the myths surrounding the Middle East.” ―Richard North Patterson

“The need for United States engagement in the Middle East has never been greater, and I believe it is essential that Americans better understand the people and cultures in the region. This book improves our understanding of these diverse communities and provides valuable insight into the lives of Arab Americans.” ―President Jimmy Carter

“This pioneering effort is readable and useful for both policy makers and general readers...Essential.” ―Choice

“Jim Zogby has written a timely and valuable book on the pressing need for effective public diplomacy toward the broader Middle East. The best definition of public diplomacy is to first listen, understand, and then inform, engage and influence.'Zogby explains how this can be done.” ―Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian, former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs and founding director, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University

“We don't understand Arabs; they don't understand us. Jim Zogby, at last, helps bridge that gap. Every American policy maker should read this book – and listen to him.” ―Bill Press, nationally-syndicated talk show host

“Europeans should read this book. Arab attitudes to Europe track their attitudes to America much more than Europeans might like to think. Both are seen through the same prism of Palestinian dispossession. That dispossession is an Arab wound rather than a Muslim one. The security of Europe,even more than that of America, requires us to find a resolution to the differences so lucidly described in this book.” ―John Bruton, former Prime Minister of Ireland and EU Ambassador to the United States

“Thanks to his experience in the region, Jim Zogby is uniquely positioned to present rarely heard voices from the Arab world. Here, he does just that, shining a bright light on a deeply misunderstood part of the world.” ―Arianna Huffington

“For four decades, we have fought wars in the Middle East, spent billions, lost many American lives. This book shows that the Arabs are paying rapt attention to us and shifting their opinion accordingly. For those who care about US policy, it's the best information you can have. Columnists speak of the "Arab street" as if Mideast opinion were carved in stone. In this important new book, James Zogby shows us its vibrancy.” ―Chris Matthews

About the Author

James Zogby is founder and president of the Washington, D.C.–based Arab American Institute and a senior advisor to the polling firm Zogby International. He writes a weekly column that appears in twenty Arab newspapers and hosts a weekly call-in discussion program on Abu Dhabi television. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Democratic National Committee, and co-chair of the DNC's Resolutions Committee, he and his wife Eileen live in Washington, D.C.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230102999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230102996
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,727,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In an era in which Arab has become a four-letter word, Zogby presents withthe very voices we as Americans have chosen to ignore. How can we expect to understand a vast swath of the world if we have predetermined what we think they believe, what motivates them? Zogby asks us instead to listen. This book uses hard data collected from thousands of interviews conducted during numerous polls across the Arab region, coupled with personal anecdotes, to draw a much clearer picture of why our policies in the Middle East have not worked in the past. It also offers insights on how we can choose to approach the region differently in the future. I consider myself to be a fairly informed reader and yet found myself having frequent "aha" moments throughout reading this book. I was also shocked by some of what I read, including the fact that 65% of Americans believe Iran is an Arab country or that only 37% can identify 1948 as the year of Israel's War of Independence. If you ever felt like you needed to know more about what Arabs are thinking and feeling this book will be invaluable.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have just read "Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us and Why it Matters" written by James Zogby.

This excellent book should be on everyone's "must read" list!!

The polling information from Zogby International was carefully analyzed and distilled into a current primer of Arab opinion. Mr Zogby's analysis of this polling data coupled with his own personal experiences and involvement makes it possible to clearly understand the Arab world view. I also feel that this book is a must read for the (too) large numbers of Americans who do not understand the feelings and realities of the Arab world.
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By Ossama on October 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Add my voice to those ascertaining that Arab Voices is "a must read". Jim brings the scenes, the streets, the schools, the studios to our beds and desks. We read the pleas, we feel the pressure, we learn of biases, we hear the voices - and hope that one day everyone will. Debates, debacles, defamation and cultural demagoguery play vividly. We relive what we have witnessed, we visualize what we have missed.

The Yemeni girl bumps into a grill isolating the playground of understanding from those who innocently wished to partake. She is no more relevant than the half a million children Madeleine Albright would sacrifice, blockade. Infamous influencers - Friedman, Wilders, Beck, Pat, Patai and Pipe lay barren their hearts and minds as they describe the Arab Mind. None is pretty.

Speaking of Arab American Minds: Edward Said and Khalil Gibran now mean something more to me than what I knew: the former after reading his beautiful quote, and the latter after learning of the "Brooklyn Madrassa" masterpiece described in the book.

In memory of Mr. Zogby's father, I will always try to smell the peaches, and remember.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
James Zogby speaks with a uniquely qualified voice about the Arab experience in both the Middle East and the USA. Son of a Lebanese immigrant of very modest fortune, he and his brother John (Zogby International polls) exemplify the American Dream of achieving success through competence and hard work. Straight-talking but never strident, he discusses prejudice against Arabs and the desperate need for basic understanding--too often deliberately discouraged by hostile domestic influences--about Arab peoples, their history, language, culture, aspirations.

Zogby's analysis of cases where willful ignorance and bias have botched U.S. actions and interests--Iraq, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine--provides a concise education in what went wrong and why, supported by numerous references to actual, eye-opening polls of opinion in Arab countries. This book should be on the desk--and in the hands--of everyone involved with Middle East policy. It is also an immensely valuable source of information and insight for schools, libraries, and anyone who cares about the health of American civil society.
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Format: Hardcover
This book presents the well informed and often poignant reflections of one Arab American who has thought a good deal about the issues that Arabs face in America and the bridge they can play between the Middle East and the US. Some of the passages are quite moving. One of my favorite is the author's recollection of the words of his mother, recounted in chapter 14, Arab Americans: Bridging the Divide (p. 177):
"[M]any of the young generation, and even some of the old, who are in this country only a few years, are ashamed to acknowledge that they are Syrians. They refuse to learn the Arabic language, and if they know it they are reluctant, through shame, to be heard speaking it . They shun Syrian companionship and become inadvertent to Syrian ideals and customs, thinking that by doing so they are becoming Americanized. How, then, can we ever aspire to win the admiration and esteem of our American friends if we do not respect ourselves?"
This book is however not strong in its research. I was disappointed to find that a large number of the citations in the Notes section at the end of the book cite the author himself, his personal notes, or the Zogby Polls of Zogby International, which employs James Zogby. I would have found the arguments more convincing if they cited neutral third party sources or, if they were available, polls.
I was also disappointed to find some of this book reads like anti-Republican Party propaganda. The author takes statements made by Republican leaders, including Dick Cheney or his daughter, and tries to turn them on their heads, yet I was finding through it all that the statements the author was deconstructing were often more reasonable than the author's arguments. I would have found the book more compelling if the author were as critical of Democratic Party leaders as he was of Republican leaders.
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