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1 Burnside Middle East- General History

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Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents

by

Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"Though this book is an extraordinarily attractive short introduction to the different national schools of Orientalism, and to the various scholars who labored to make Eastern philology and philosophy more accessible, its chief interest to the lay reader lies in its consideration of Orientalism as a study of Islam. Irwin shows us the early Christian attempts to translate and understand the Koran, most of which were preoccupied with showing its heretical character. These make especially absorbing reading..." Christopher Hitchens, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The publication of Edward Said's hugely influential Orientalism in 1981 called into question the entire history of the Western study of Islamic culture, condemning this scholarly tradition as one that presented inaccurate and deliberately demeaning representations of Islamic peoples and institutions — so much so that the words "Oriental" and "Orientalist" came to take on the most negative connotations.

But what is Orientalism, who were the Orientalists, and how did Western scholars of Islamic culture come to be vilified as insidious agents of European imperialism? In Robert Irwin's groundbreaking new history, he answers this question with a detailed and colorful story of the motley crew of intellectuals and eccentrics who brought an understanding of the Islamic world to the West. In a narrative that ranges from an analysis of Ancient Greek perceptions of the Persians to a portrait of the first Western European translators of Arabic to the contemporary Muslim world's perceptions of the Western study of Islam, Irwin affirms the value of the Orientalists' legacy: not only for the contemporary scholars who have disowned it, but also for anyone committed to fostering the cross-cultural under-standing which could bridge the real or imagined gulf between Islamic and Western civilization.

Dangerous Knowledge is an enthralling history, a bold argument, and an urgent redress of our conceptions about Western culture's relationship with its nearest neighbor.

Review:

"Almost 30 years ago, in his classic Orientalism, the late cultural critic Edward Said published a scathing denunciation of Oriental studies, blaming the field for the rise of Western imperialism and racist views about Arabs and other Eastern peoples. British historian Irwin (The Alhambra) fiercely condemns Said's misinterpretation, offering both a brilliant defense of Orientalism and a masterful intellectual history of the Orientalists and their work, which opened windows on the world of Asia in general and Islam in particular, providing the West with glimpses of the social and religious practices of these cultures. Irwin surveys the history of Orientalism from the Greeks through the Middle Ages to its height in the 18th and 19th centuries. He chronicles the lives and works of the men who introduced the ideas of Islamic and Asian culture to the West. Many of these men were biblical critics whose command of Hebrew allowed them to move easily to Arabic and to explore the Koran. In the 17th century, the dragomans, or translators, moved the study of Islam forward by providing translations of Turkish, Arabic and Persian texts. Irwin's wide-ranging study splendidly captures a time when intellectual polymaths traversed foreign territories in search of new and compelling ideas. (Oct.) " Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Nearly 30 years ago, the late Edward Said brought out his most famous book, 'Orientalism' (1978). Till then, Orientalism had been regarded as simply the branch of European scholarship focusing on the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. But Said argued that it was, in fact, a highly politicized concept, the umbrella term for a kind of intellectual — fostering racism, justifying Western interference... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Latter-day Orientalists and students of intellectual history will benefit greatly from this study." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[Irwin] takes a subject that could be deadly dull and makes it live....A serious work of scholarship that is a delight to read from start to finish..." Library Journal

Review:

"[Irwin] is...an expert in his field and a skilled writer....Mr. Irwin has provided the nuanced critique of Islamic studies that Edward Said, with his self-aggrandizing bluster, failed to deliver." Wall Street Journal

Review:

"Mr. Irwin writes for a general audience in a lively, readable style..." New York Times

About the Author

Robert Irwin was born in 1946. He read modern history at Oxford and taught medieval history at the University of St. Andrews. He has held teaching appointments in Arabic and Middle Eastern history at Oxford and Cambridge.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781585678358
Author:
Irwin, Robert
Publisher:
Overlook Press
Subject:
General
Subject:
Study and teaching
Subject:
Middle East
Subject:
Middle East - Israel
Subject:
Islam -- History.
Subject:
Historiography
Subject:
Middle East - General
Subject:
Islamic Studies
Subject:
Israel
Subject:
Orientalism
Subject:
Middle East Study and teaching.
Subject:
World history -- Historiography.
Copyright:
Edition Description:
B-Hardcover
Publication Date:
20061231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
376
Dimensions:
9.18x6.36x1.42 in. 1.43 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Middle East » General History
History and Social Science » Sociology » Islamic Studies
History and Social Science » World History » European History General
History and Social Science » World History » Historiography
History and Social Science » World History » Middle East

Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 376 pages Overlook Press - English 9781585678358 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Almost 30 years ago, in his classic Orientalism, the late cultural critic Edward Said published a scathing denunciation of Oriental studies, blaming the field for the rise of Western imperialism and racist views about Arabs and other Eastern peoples. British historian Irwin (The Alhambra) fiercely condemns Said's misinterpretation, offering both a brilliant defense of Orientalism and a masterful intellectual history of the Orientalists and their work, which opened windows on the world of Asia in general and Islam in particular, providing the West with glimpses of the social and religious practices of these cultures. Irwin surveys the history of Orientalism from the Greeks through the Middle Ages to its height in the 18th and 19th centuries. He chronicles the lives and works of the men who introduced the ideas of Islamic and Asian culture to the West. Many of these men were biblical critics whose command of Hebrew allowed them to move easily to Arabic and to explore the Koran. In the 17th century, the dragomans, or translators, moved the study of Islam forward by providing translations of Turkish, Arabic and Persian texts. Irwin's wide-ranging study splendidly captures a time when intellectual polymaths traversed foreign territories in search of new and compelling ideas. (Oct.) " Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Though this book is an extraordinarily attractive short introduction to the different national schools of Orientalism, and to the various scholars who labored to make Eastern philology and philosophy more accessible, its chief interest to the lay reader lies in its consideration of Orientalism as a study of Islam. Irwin shows us the early Christian attempts to translate and understand the Koran, most of which were preoccupied with showing its heretical character. These make especially absorbing reading..." (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
"Review" by , "Latter-day Orientalists and students of intellectual history will benefit greatly from this study."
"Review" by , "[Irwin] takes a subject that could be deadly dull and makes it live....A serious work of scholarship that is a delight to read from start to finish..."
"Review" by , "[Irwin] is...an expert in his field and a skilled writer....Mr. Irwin has provided the nuanced critique of Islamic studies that Edward Said, with his self-aggrandizing bluster, failed to deliver."
"Review" by , "Mr. Irwin writes for a general audience in a lively, readable style..."
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