Synopses & Reviews
Nadine Gordimer once wrote, referring to Edward Said's memoir Out of Place
, "Said is in place among the truly important intellects in our century." These forty-six eloquent and impassioned essays written by Said between December 2000 and July 2003 for the London-based Al-Hayat
, Cairos Al-Ahram Weekly
, and the London Review of Books
underscore his tireless efforts for the Palestinian cause. They take us from the collapse of the Oslo Accords to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, focusing on three main themes, as Tony Judt points out in his introduction: the urgent need to reveal the truth about Israels treatment of Palestinians, the equally urgent need to get Palestinians and other Arabs to engage with the progressive elements in Israel, and the need to speak out about the failure of Arab leadership.
In From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map, Said writes about the second intifada and about the so-called peace process, which he terms a kind of "fast-food peace" underscored by "malevolent sloppiness." He discusses the breach of democracy in the last American presidential election and describes the Bush administration as hopeless in its allegiance to the Christian right and to the big oil companies. He writes passionately against the war in Iraq and condemns the "road map" as a plan not for peace but for pacification of the Palestinians. He makes clear the ways in which the U.S. response to 9/11 has further destabilized the Middle East, but finds as well reasons for hope: the Palestinian National Initiative, an organization of grassroots activists who share a burgeoning idea of democracy "undreamed of by the [Palestinian] Authority." What has always set Said apart is his ability to state the uncensored truth about the realities of the Palestinian experience, from land expropriation, and dispossession, to assassinations, roadblocks, and house demolitions.
In this book, Said reveals information that never finds its way into the American media, thus providing a real context for our understanding of the Middle East. Fiercely uncompromising, written with clarity and elegance, From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map gives us an essential and unique voice that is more important now than ever before.
"In the three years before he died of leukemia in September 2003, noted critic and commentator Said (Culture and Imperialism, etc.) observed with sputtering rage some of the grimmest moments in the tragic history of the Middle East conflict. The commentaries collected here, written mostly for two Arabic-language publications, are caustic and heartbroken, heaping scorn on the 'demonic' Ariel Sharon, but reserving plenty of contempt for the 'ruinous regime' of Yasir Arafat. Said has few allies in his call for Palestinians and Israelis to unite in a single binational state, but his critique of Oslo's approach to a two-state solution has come to seem prescient. He denounces suicide bombing, advising Palestinians instead to 'seize the moral high ground' and build a civil society, but he insists that Israel's occupation, settlements and counterterrorist reprisals are primarily responsible for the conflict. After September 11, Said worries about the 'Israelization of U.S. policy.' But regarding Iraq, Said, who opposed Hussein's rule as well as the sanctions policy and the American invasion, doesn't suggest an alternative. He often criticizes all of the messy options available to policy makers, placing his hopes in nonviolent resistance movements that don't yet exist. Still, these essays are a reminder of what has been lost: a passionate and eloquent spokesman for the aspirations of progressives in the Arab world. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (Aug. 10)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[Said's] views on the folly of the unfolding American adventure in Iraq...seem particularly prescient in the light of recent events. Always controversial, but worthwhile for those who follow current events and those who wish for peace in Palestine." Kirkus Reviews
"Said fans will likely feel a twinge of sadness in his ardent, frustrated final essays; those discovering him for the first time here may be drawn to his now-classic earlier works." Booklist
With his characteristically unflinching analysis and intelligence, Edward Said writes about the second intifada and about Bill Clinton's misguided negotiations on the "Law of Return" for Palestinians, which he terms a kind of "fast-food peace" underscored by "malevolent sloppiness." He discusses the breach of democracy in the last American presidential election and describes the Bush administration as hopeless in its allegiance to the Christian right and to the big oil companies. He writes passionately against the war in Iraq and condemns the "road map" as a plan not for peace but for pacification of the Palestinians. He makes clear the ways in which 9/11 has further destabilized the Middle East but finds as well reasons for hope: the Palestinian National Initiative, an organization of grassroots activists who share a burgeoning idea of democracy "undreamed of by the PLO." The facts and details Said reveals information that never finds its way into the American media immeasurably add to our understanding of the Middle East.
Impassioned, fiercely uncompromising, written with clarity and elegance, these essays bring us an essential American voice of dissent.
About the Author
Edward W. Said was University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He was the author of more than twenty books, including Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism (both available in paperback from Vintage Books), and his essays and reviews appeared in newspapers and periodicals throughout the world. Said died in September 2003.