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The Fear of Barbarians: Beyond the Clash of Civilizations


The Fear of Barbarians: Beyond the Clash of Civilizations Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The relationship between Western democracies and Islam, rarely entirely comfortable, has in recent years become increasingly tense. A growing immigrant population and worries about cultural and political assimilation—exacerbated by terrorist attacks in the United States, Europe, and around the world—have provoked reams of commentary from all parts of the political spectrum, a frustrating majority of it hyperbolic or even hysterical.

In The Fear of Barbarians, the celebrated intellectual Tzvetan Todorov offers a corrective: a reasoned and often highly personal analysis of the problem, rooted in Enlightenment values yet open to the claims of cultural difference. Drawing on history, anthropology, and politics, and bringing to bear examples ranging from the murder of Theo van Gogh to the French ban on headscarves, Todorov argues that the West must overcome its fear of Islam if it is to avoid betraying the values it claims to protect. True freedom, Todorov explains, requires us to strike a delicate balance between protecting and imposing cultural values, acknowledging the primacy of the law, and yet strenuously protecting minority views that do not interfere with its aims. Adding force to Todorov's arguments is his own experience as a native of communist Bulgaria: his admiration of French civic identity—and Western freedom—is vigorous but non-nativist, an inclusive vision whose very flexibility is its core strength.

The record of a penetrating mind grappling with a complicated, multifaceted problem, The Fear of Barbarians is a powerful, important book—a call, not to arms, but to thought. 

About the Author

Tzvetan Todorov is a historian and political essayist and the author of many books, including Conquest of America: The Question of the Other and, most recently, The Defense of the Enlightenment. Andrew Brown has translated numerous books from French, including Todorovs The New World Disorder.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Between Fear and Resentment

1 Barbarism and Civilization

2 Collective Identities

3 The War of the Worlds

4 Steering between the Reefs

5 European Identity

Conclusion: Beyond Manicheism

Afterword, 2010



Product Details

Todorov, Tzvetan
University of Chicago Press
Brown, Andrew
Brown, Andrew
General Political Science
Islam and politics
East and West
History & Theory - General
World - General
Politics - General
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
History and Social Science » Sociology » Islamic Studies
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » 20th Century
History and Social Science » World History » General
History and Social Science » World History » Western Civilization

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Product details 248 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226805757 Reviews:
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