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Engaging the Muslim World

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  172 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Western society is suffering from Islam Anxiety—the product of fear-mongering and misinformation. There is a desperate need to debunk the myths concerning Islam in order to improve the political and ideological understanding between Muslim countries and their Western counterparts. Juan Cole, already celebrated for his rejection of stereotypes and his insistence on taking a ...more
Hardcover, 282 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by Palgrave Macmillan Trade (first published March 13th 2009)
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I've watched an interview with the author last night on "The Colbert Report" TV show. In spite of the comic nature of the show, the book seems to have a very realistic and serious approach to the Islamic world. Denying -or correcting- a lot of the false stereotyping towards Muslims.

Review update:
I'm almost done with the book. I will definitly look forward to re-read it in Arabic. The author demonstrated his theoritical muscles and explained where and how the previous American administration went
Ryan Mishap
This sounded like an interesting explication of how the United States fails to understand the Muslim world and how it could go about changing that. As I read, though, I discovered that what he covers should be fairly obvious to anyone who, I don't know, doesn't get their news from Fox News or the more believable lies in The New York Times.
Sure, Muslim majority countries have oil and we wants it, oh yess, Precious. The U.S. doesn't understand the difference between Muslim activists and what ar
John Rivera
Some of Coles claims contradict themselves and some of his conclusions are very loosely formed and, in my opinion, not true, i.e. that American military forces did not engage Ansar al-Islam during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Overall, the underlining premises of Cole's work are good and he offers a fresh perspective that is sorely lacking amongst American politicians and public alike. For students of the "clash of civilizations" theory of Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington, this is an excellent p ...more
I was pretty ignorant about the broader background issues of the middle eastern/Asian Islamic countries. Learning about the cultural, religious, social and political aspects of the region help highlight the complexity of actions and policies - much more complex than popular American opinion and most US international policy suggests. This book was a great overview for me. A lot of information in one place.
How we can repair the damage of the disastrous foreign policy of the last eight years, and forge ahead on a path of peace and prosperity.

With clarity and concision, Juan Cole disentangles the key foreign policy issues that America is grappling with today—from our dependence on Middle East petroleum to the promotion of Islamophobia by the American right—and delivers his informed advice on the best way forward.

A noted historian of the Middle East and a celebrated blogger, Cole has a unique ability
Cole is a rarity in American academia in that he participates in the public discourse. Additionally, his excellent blog, "Informed Comment," helps to shape the public discourse. This book provides an informed tour of the Middle East, and addresses American challenges in the region. His knowledge of history and culture is excellent, and I found new facts about a region with which I considered myself familiar about every other page. That said, I believe Cole overuses opinion polling to back his po ...more
While the title is about "engaging" the Muslim world, the book is actually an issue by issue and country by country report on the news making parts of the Muslim world. It has a concluding chapter on the importance of engagement. Ideas on how this engagement can take place are suggested throughout the book.

Refreshingly, the issue of oil is discussed. If you follow the US news reports, you might reasonably conclude that oil is a side issue. Cole is up front with it and begins his book with the fa
Zachary Welch
fair and concise overview of the Middle East; Cole's policy prescriptions for solving the energy crisis, improving relations w/ Iran and the Muslim world, and resolving the Israeli - Palestinian conflict will not come as a surprise to anyone even vaguely informed on the topics, but they do enjoy popular support across the globe.

his observations on Central and South Asia, in particular Afghanistan, I feel are better explained elsewhere by scholars and journalists from the area. From my personal
Tom Trewinnard
A great, and quick, review of US foreign policy in the Muslim world (actually the Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan - Indonesia and the rest of South Asia are overlooked) and the historical factors effecting it. Pushes hard for diplomatic engagement with various parties, condemning the Bush policy of diplomatic isolation. Excellent intros to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Iraqi political scene and the contradictions in US foreign policy.

Only annoying thing is when he relates each point to
I gave this book 4 stars for what it should have been, not for how I felt about it.

Cole is a master - a Middle East historian who diverges greatly from the Lewis camp of Near East affairs. But this book, which started off strong, soon lost my interest. It might be because much of the information I've read before.

This book is an extremely important book, and Cole presents the information in a way that is easily accessible to people who don't know much about the region or about the issues. People
An excellent overview of Cole's thinking over the past several years. Unfortunately, as such, he sometimes glosses over issues, which would be impossible not to do in a book of such great coverage (all major M.E. crises) and such short page count (250 as I remember). While I can forgive him for the glossing over, he is sometimes exceedingly partisan, and I think, perhaps too idealistic about the promise of negotiation and compromise with certain regimes (particularly Iran and Palestine).
M. Salahuddin
Very insightful book. What pains me is his affirmation of how obtuse US foreign policy has been in relation to the Muslim world. It seems, and Cole confirms this, that every foreign policy decision made by the US in relation to the Middle East and oil-energy security is done out of short-term aims with Muslim-world governments and total disregard for Muslim populations and their puzzlement over America's behavior being so out of step with America's democratic ideals.
Sean Carman
Juan Cole is a professor of political science at the University of Michigan and he writes the blog "Informed Comment," which became a popular source of information about the Middle East after 9/11. This introduction to Middle East politics responds to American anxiety about Islam and the Muslim world by explaining that the Muslim world is not the simplistic monolith Western media narratives often portray.
A bit pedantic but there were so many things in the book that I hadn't considered. Makes me wonder though, if Juan Cole has it right why isn't the administration listening to him or even putting him on some sort of advisory panel. I mean Greg Mortenson got the ear of the Pentagon commanders, why not Mr. Cole?
Insightful with lots of prehensible history. The facts and backstories are engaging, in and of themselves. Prof Juan Cole makes a solid argument for re-thinking energy policies and encouraging dialogue with our global colleagues.
Highly recommend. An excellent summary of the history and politics of the middle east. Very timely.
An excellent look behind the hype and myths that screen us from the reality of the Muslim world.
Kit Pravda
Aug 08, 2009 Kit Pravda added it
Shelves: non-fiction
Terrific insight into Iranian culture.
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Excerpt: Engaging the Muslim World 1 7 Jun 23, 2009 08:32AM  
Interview with Juan Cole 1 4 Jun 17, 2009 09:30AM  
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John Ricardo I. "Juan" Cole (born October 23, 1952) is an American scholar, public intellectual, and historian of the modern Middle East and South Asia. He is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. As a commentator on Middle Eastern affairs, he has appeared in print and on television, and testified before the United States Senate. He has published severa ...more
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