Synopses & Reviews
In the days immediately following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the American media turned to Middle East "experts" for over-the-airwaves analysis of the motivation, rationale and ideology of the perpetrators - and, at times, for advice on what the United States should do in response. Not since the Gulf War had so many academics been brought before the cameras and the microphones. Some were insightful, informed and informative. Many, however, were superficial, misguided and plain wrong. As Kramer argues in this examination of the state of his profession, America is ill served by the way in which the Middle East is studied and presented at institutions of higher education across the nation. The academic understanding of the Middle East is framed not by the realities of the region, but by the fads and fashions that have swept through the disciplines, as well as the prejudices that have enslaved the academics themselves. Middle Eastern studies have failed - at a time when understanding of the Middle East has become crucial to America.
Unquestionably, this is one of the most important books about understanding the Middle East written during the last half-century.Jerusalem Post
On campuses throughout the United States, thousands of professors study and teach the Middle East. They fill the pages of journals, the shelves of libraries, and the minds of students with their paradigms, theories, and predictions. In Middle East crises, the media seek their opinions. Their enterprise is deemed a national resource: the federal government subsidizes over a dozen academic centers devoted to the Middle East. Yet for the past twenty years, Middle Eastern studies in America have been factories of error. The academics, blinded by their own prejudices and enslaved to the fashions of the disciplines, have failed to anticipate or explain any of the major developments in the Middle East. Within the field, hardly a voice dares to protest, but beyond it, each debacle chips away at academic's credibility. Middle Eastern studies have failed--at a time when understanding the Middle East has become crucial to America. In this iconoclastic expos, Martin Kramer surveys the ruins of Middle Eastern studies, to ask how and why they went wrong. Ivory Towers on Sand is the most thorough critique of Middle Eastern studies ever published in the United States--and a necessary step toward their reconstruction.