Synopses & Reviews
Ian Buruma returns to his native land to explore the great dilemma of our time through the story of the brutal murder of controversial Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh at the hands of an Islamic extremist.
It was the emblematic crime of our moment: On a cold November day in Amsterdam, an angry young Muslim man, Mohammed Bouyeri, the son of Moroccan immigrants, shot and killed the celebrated and controversial Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, great-grandnephew of Vincent and iconic European provocateur, for making a movie with the vocally anti-Islam Somali-born Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali that "blasphemed" Islam. After Bouyeri shot van Gogh, he calmly stood over the body and cut his throat with a curved machete, as if performing a ritual sacrifice, which in a very real sense he was.
The murder horrified quiet, complacent, prosperous Holland, a country that prides itself on being a bastion of tolerance, and sent shock waves across Europe and around the world. Shortly thereafter, Ian Buruma returned to his native country to try to make sense of it all and to see what larger meaning should and shouldn't be drawn from this story. The result is Buruma's masterpiece: a book with the intimacy and narrative control of a true-crime page-turner and the intellectual resonance we've come to expect from one of the most well-regarded journalists and thinkers of our time. Ian Buruma's entire life has led him to this narrative: In his hands, it is the exemplary tale of our age, the story of what happens when political Islam collides with the secular West and tolerance finds its limits.
"Van Gogh, a provocative media personality in the Netherlands, was shot and stabbed on an Amsterdam street in November 2004 by a young radical, the son of Moroccan immigrants, who accused him of blasphemy against Islam. When Buruma (Bad Elements) returned to his homeland in an effort to make sense of the brutal murder, he quickly realized there was more to the story than a terrorist lashing out against Western culture. Exploiting the tensions between native-born Dutch and Muslim immigrants, van Gogh drew attention to himself with deliberately inflammatory political theater that escalated beyond control. Buruma refuses to blame the victim, though, giving equal weight to critics who insist Islam must adapt to European culture rather than the other way around, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Dutch politician who scripted van Gogh's final film, an avant-garde indictment of the religion's treatment of women. There is a strong sense of journalistic immediacy to Buruma's cultural inquiry, and if the result is a slim volume, that's because his dense, thoughtful prose doesn't waste a single word. (Sept. 11)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] shrewd, subtly argued inquiry into the tensions and resentments underlying two of the most shocking events in the recent history of the Netherlands." William Grimes, The New York Times
"A troubling description and analysis of what can happen when cultures collide." Kirkus Reviews
"Buruma sees the problem as primarily denying second-generation Muslims a home in the country in which they were born. An ideal, absorbing companion to Bruce Bawer's excoriating While Europe Slept (2006)." Booklist
"Buruma's personal account of his homeland under siege powerfully conveys the looming challenge of integration facing the Netherlands, and Western Europe in general." Chicago Tribune
"Fortunately, Mr. Buruma is such a good writer and reporter that Murder in Amsterdam is always engaging, despite the shortcomings of its analysis." Wall Street Journal
"Murder In Amsterdam is a powerful, disturbing book, a welcome contribution." Baltimore Sun
"Fascinating . . . Characteristically vivid and astute."
-Timothy Garton Ash, The New York Review of Books
"[Murder in Amsterdam] is a work of philosophical and narrative tension, strikingly sharp and brooding, frank and openly curious."
-San Francisco Chronicle
"Shrewd, subtly argued."
-The New York Times Book Review
Buruma returns to his native land to explore the brutal murder of controversial Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh at the hands of an Islamic extremist.
A revelatory look at what happens when political Islam collides with the secular West
Ian Buruma 's Murder in Amsterdam is a masterpiece of investigative journalism, a book with the intimacy and narrative control of a crime novel and the analytical brilliance for which Buruma is renowned. On a cold November day in Amsterdam in 2004, the celebrated and controversial Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was shot and killed by an Islamic extremist for making a movie that "insulted the prophet Mohammed." The murder sent shock waves across Europe and around the world. Shortly thereafter, Ian Buruma returned to his native land to investigate the event and its larger meaning as part of the great dilemma of our time.
About the Author
Ian Buruma is currently Luce Professor at Bard College. His previous books include God's Dust, Behind the Mask, The Missionary and the Libertine, Playing the Game, The Wages of Guilt, Anglomania, and Bad Elements. He writes frequently for the New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, and the Financial Times.
Table of Contents
Murder in Amsterdam One:
Holy War in Amsterdam
Two: Thank You, Pim
Three: The Healthy Smoker
Four: A Dutch Tragedy
Six: A Promising Boy
Seven: In Memoriam
Review A Day
"For better and worse, Murder in Amsterdam
still reads like a New Yorker
article. At book length, its lack of a clear structure is problematic....Murder in Amsterdam
's strength is less as a meditation on the limits of tolerance than as a meditation on Holland." Peter Beinart, The Washington Post Book World
(read the entire Washington Post Book World review