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Occidentosis: A Plague From the West Paperback – June 15, 1984

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Translated from the Persian by R. Campbell with annotations and an introduction by Hamid Algar

Hamid Algar, born in England in 1940, received his formal training in Islamic studies at Cambridge Univrsity, from which he received his Ph.D. in 1965. Since 1965, he has been teaching at the University of California, Berkeley. He ia Professor of Persian and Islamic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He has published widely on bothe Sufism and Shi'ism.uthor

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Mizan Press (June 15, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0933782136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0933782136
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,078,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Paolini on August 15, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Westerns have been asking the question: "Why don't they like us?" Jalal Al-i Ahmad tells you. Unfortunately, he does not always provide proof of many of his assertions with facts and theory; he reports the affects. One must be prepared with reference material (Wikipedia is usually sufficient) as he refers to events and places that are probably not known except to Islamic and Middle East scholars. He also starts a line of reason/argument to finish with a statement to the effect of "you get my point." Well I didn't always get it.
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Format: Paperback
Written by an Iranian intellectual who has strong feelings for Islamic culture and his country, this book serves as an interesting and enlightening counterpoint to Bernard Lewis' two most recent works, WHAT WENT WRONG? and THE CRISIS OF ISLAM. Al-i Ahmad decries the current influence of the West at the expense of his own culture, in particular the economic and technological forces of global corporations which inevitably bring with it Western values and ideals. Like Lewis, he is even-handed and level-headed in assigning blame. That this book was suppressed during the Shah of Iran's reign is unfortunate indeed.
Though his history is a bit shaky (numerous footnotes correct various statements in the text), they are not fatal to his argument, and one cannot help but be swept up in his impassioned and eloquent defense of his culture. Not only does he define the problem, but he offers practical non-violent solutions which, if they had been heeded when this book was first written (early 1960s), would have gone a long way toward preventing many of the problems the area faces today.
It should be noted taht a good background in Islam and Islamic history is necessary to fully grasp some of the finer points of his arguments. But even without this background, it is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand why the U.S. is held with such low regard in the Arabic world.
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The historical importance of this book can't really be overestimated. This is one of the first books to come from Iran that had a major influence on events within Iran and the greater Middle East. This was the first in a line of works that would eventually set the stage for the Iranian revolution that would bring Khomeini to power and drastically challenge the status quo throughout the region. It is this historical perspective that makes this book an important read for those interested in this area and its history. While this book is not overtly religious and didn't really inform Khomeini and his fellow Islamists religious beliefs, what it did do is help to create the ground work for change within Iran that was so instrumental in pushing the revolution.

What this book does, like many others from Shariati to Qutb, is to attempt to explain the powerlessness of the people and to give them an object with which to focus their frustration. It is the West's corrupting inlfuence that keeps the people down and creates hollow leaders who seek nothing but self aggrandizement and improving their lot as consumers. These people have become the consumed with nothing but their empty desires and the need to fill their meaningless existence with the pleasures of the West they hope to mimic. They are not nationalists or Muslims. They do not care to improve their state or their fellow citizens. It also discusses the new colonialism of the "machine" as the West exports its finished products to the new consumerist East and exploits the East for its raw materials. The West brings in their professional workers to exploit the raw materials while the they get low wage jobs. The industrialists of the West prop up the ruling class with money while the rest of the nation remains neglected.
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