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Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  549 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
Twenty-five years ago, Edward Said's Orientalism spawned a generation of scholarship on the denigrating and dangerous mirage of "the East" in the Western colonial mind. But "the West" is the more dangerous mirage of our own time, Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit argue, and the idea of "the West" in the minds of its self-proclaimed enemies remains largely unexamined and woef ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published March 29th 2005 by Penguin Books (first published 2004)
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A series of short essays on 'non-Western' stereotypes of the west and their intellectual origins. Focuses on Japanese nationalism, Russian Slavophilia, Fardid's "Westoxification", and Qutbism and Al-Qaeda.

Useful in finding some common characteristics - the West is overly 'urban', overly mercantile, 'rational' over spiritual, and ignoring the will of God. Buruma suggests there is a common relationship with the German romanticism of Fichte, Herder, and Schelling, though there is not enough of a c
محمد إلهامي
هذا الكتاب غربي المزاج والهوى إلى أبعد حد، وهو يتناول مفهوم الاستغراب بأنه "الحركة المعادية للغرب"، وخلاصته أن من يُعادون الغرب إنما يفعلون ذلك لأسباب خاصة بهم وليست كردود فعل على ما قد يكون الغرب اقترفه من جرائم وخطايا، يقول المؤلفان: "ما ندعوه بالاستغراب هو تلك الصورة التي رسمها للغرب أعداؤه، وقد نزعوا عنه الطابع الإنساني" وبأثر من هذه الرؤية يخلص المؤلفان إلى نتيجتين مهمتين:

الأولى: أنه لا علاقة بين جرائم الغرب وحركة العداء له، بل هذا العداء للغرب ليس إلا محاولة من الشرقيين ليبرروا بها لأنفسهم
Oct 19, 2010 Mark rated it liked it
As the sub-title says, the point is to describe the "West in the Eyes of Its Enemies": the toxic mix of stereotypes, assumptions, and ignorance that dehumanizes its inhabitants.

The book is essentially four medium length essays, each covering different strains of Occidentalism. Although framed around illuminating the mindset of modern Islamic terrorism--how could anyone justify mass murder?--the point is that this is similar to and descended from earlier mindsets. Indeed, the book spends most of
I was really worried this book, given it's emotionally and politically fraught topic, would fail in subtlety at some point and veer into xenophobia or merely lazy essentializing.

Happily, co-authors Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit instead display a breadth of knowledge about history and political thought in many parts of the world that allow them to talk deftly about the development of anti-western sentiments over the past several centuries without reducing any of the cultures under discussion t
Nov 18, 2014 Iman rated it it was ok
A lot of my notes on the sides of pages throughout the book began with LOOOOOOOOOOOOL. this is a terrible book, but it has a few interesting ideas (which they use to make generalizations about all criticism of the 'west').
Mindy King
Oct 16, 2007 Mindy King rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in todays modern world
I liked this book, it makes some good points about the history of dislike of The West. However, I also think that there is a Western leaning to the book. It seemed obvious to me that "The West" is the good guy and I think a more neutral stance would have made this book a better read for me.
Nov 14, 2007 Alvin rated it really liked it
Not all anti-Capitalists are nice people... or even sane.
Gavin Armour
Nov 23, 2015 Gavin Armour rated it really liked it
[Rezension bezieht sich auf die deutsche Ausgabe]

Der britische Journalist Ian Buruma und der israelische Philosoph Avishai Margalit widmen sich im vorliegenden Band der Frage, wie der Orient auf den Okzident blickt und weshalb dieser Blick häufig so voller Hass und Ablehnung ist. Wobei „Orient“ begrifflich zu eng gefasst ist, ist dieser heute doch lediglich der stärkste Vertreter des Okzidentalismus. Die Autoren gehen die Frage aber unter anderem historisch an und stellen fest, daß der Blick auf
Shonna Froebel
Oct 15, 2014 Shonna Froebel rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, culture
This book's purpose is not to demonize the enemies of the west or assist in the "war on terrorism", but to understand what drives Occidentalism, and to show that the suicide bombers of today have their roots in history that includes the west itself. Understanding doesn't provide excuses, but just additional knowledge in dealing with those who demonize the west.
The book looks at occidentalism from a variety of viewpoints. One is the idea of war against the west, one is the idea of the city as an
Oct 05, 2008 Andrew rated it liked it
A good thought-provoking book about anti-West sentiment from "Occidentalists" ranging from the pre-WWII Japanese, 19th century Germans, to modern Islamic terrorists.

The West has done quite a bit to pillage, destabilize, subdue other countries in colonization (and continue to do so today). But beyond these concrete actions, the authors point to a perception problem with the West that is only compounded by our imperialist actions.

We tend to blame Islam and religions for the mindset of extremists,
Aug 17, 2011 pattrice rated it it was ok
There are some interesting tidbits of the history of ideas here, but they are woven into an oddly unbalanced and decontextualized story. I'm kind of mad at the authors for taking this title for a book that doesn't live up to its promise. Occidentalism ought to be a book that looks at Occidentalism as the obverse of Orientalism, showing the parallels in these stereotyped ways of seeing the other while also surveying the material and intellectual contexts in which these ways of thinking arose.

Jul 14, 2009 Stephen rated it it was ok
Occidentalism is described as “the dehumanizing picture of the West painted by its enemies”. The book Occidentalism can not be described as countries having stereotypes of the west or opinions because that is a part of human nature. This book describes the history and places where Occidentalism has occurred.
Countries have their reasons and idea why they very dislike or hate the way Western cultures acts the way it does. When being described through out the book, the west or western countries ar
Rikkert Kuijper
Dec 04, 2015 Rikkert Kuijper rated it liked it
It's concise, which is alright if you're familiar with the topics at hand, but it makes the work draw on presupposed principles quite a lot. Themes like ''humiliation as rhetoric'' get mentioned, but not thoroughly explained or justified with historical examples (or discredited, for that matter). The authors rely on the readers accepting these things without much question.

For example (as not to fall for my own trap), Pol Pot gets glossed over a few times as an ''Eastern Tyrant'' (always opposed
Mal Warwick
Apr 01, 2016 Mal Warwick rated it really liked it
In Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies, Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit trace the intellectual history of “the dehumanizing picture of the West painted by its enemies.” In the authors’ view, major elements of this picture, though not necessarily the whole, are shared by ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, nineteenth-century Russian Slavophiles, Hitler’s Nazis, Mao’s revolutionaries, extreme Hindu nationalists, and the Japanese militarists who plunged their country i ...more
Asher Gabbay
The attacks of September 11th have spawned a plethora of books about Islam and the Middle East, all trying to explain to the bewildered Westerner how those planes came crashing out of the skies on that bright and fateful autumn day. Occidentalism is one of these books, the authors taking the opportunity of the hightened attention to write a book that, although not officially positioned as such, is an attempt to form a response to the late Palestinian intellectual Edward Said's famous 1978 work: ...more
Feb 04, 2013 Tom rated it liked it
Shelves: commentary
This book deals with the discomfort/revulsion felt by religious purists of the City-that is the cosmopolitan nature of urban life which tends to blur all boundaries in the search for individual wealth. It is viewed as lacking a soul and, as a result, being rootless.

In reflecting on this, I think that this distinction may be a useful way to understand urban/rural differences. Typically, at least in broad brush strokes, rural people are (or were)closer to the soil, more religious, have deeper fami
Nov 14, 2010 Rossella rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookcrossing
Per "Occidentalismo" gli autori intendono, in maniera per noi italiani un po' controintuitiva, qualcosa che noi tenderemmo invece a chiamare "anti-occidentalismo": un'ideologia ostile a tutta una serie di aspetti visti come emblematici dello sviluppo etico, sociale ed economico dell'occidente, come per esempio l'importanza della scienza e della tecnologia, l'individualismo, il laicismo, l'egalitarismo e la democrazia, il libero mercato.

Secondo gli autori, i concetti alla base di tale ideologia g

Dec 20, 2010 Audrey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The opening paragraph of the chapter titled "Mind of the West" goes: "The attack on the West is among other things an attack on the mind of the West. The mind of the West is often portrayed by Occidentalists as a kind of higher idiocy. To be equipped with the mind of the West is like being an idiot savant, mentally defective but with a special gift for making arithmetic calculations. It is a mind without a soul, efficient, like a calculator, but hopeless at doing what is humanly important. The m ...more
Occidentalismul: Războiul împotriva Occidentului: o scurtă istorie a urii faţă de Vest, lucrarea celor doi autori, Ian Buruma şi Avishai Margarit, primul istoric şi eseist anglo-olandez, al doilea, eseist şi profesor de filozofie şi economie, reuşeste să redea o istorie destul de amplă a unor mecanisme de gândire şi a unor fenomene care au pornit în urma unor idei asupra cărora timpul şi-a făcut întotdeauna cunoscută sentinţa.

De la diferitele interpretări pe care le-au dat multiplele autorităţi
Catherine Roehl
Feb 20, 2009 Catherine Roehl rated it liked it
The book argues that opposition towards the West results from the opinion that Western ideology encourages a society that is “machine-like”, cold, unspiritual, and materialistic. This dehumanizing picture of the West by its enemies is referred to by the authors as Occidentalism. The term Occidentalism was derived as a counter-statement to the term Orientalism, which refers to the view of non-Western cultures as “less than fully adult humans” Occidentalism is shown to be as reductive as Orientali ...more
Kevin Christiansen
Feb 15, 2016 Kevin Christiansen rated it it was amazing
Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies is a book I would strongly recommend to those looking for a primer on untangling the question of "why do 'they' hate 'us'". Although the book is not lengthy, it presents a fascinating perspective that is often lost in the 24 hour news cycle as to how the anti-Western and anti-American world views have evolved. The book examines prejudices regarding the West as well as their historical roots. Particular attention is paid to the "Occidentalist" pe ...more
Razvan Zamfirescu
Spicuiri din recenzia finala care se gaseste pe blogul meu

Întrebarea care m-a măcinat după ce am citit cartea a fost: oare ce au urmărit cei doi autori? Buruma în cărțile pe care le-am citit de el încearcă să desfacă ițele istoriei și să ofere puncte de vedere insuficient dezvoltate sau chiar ignorate până la el. Margalit, însă, pentru mine e necunoscut. Ce vrea? Și de ce-mi lasă impresia că confundă Israelul cu America? E ceva mai mult, e o intenție as
Patrick McCoy
Sep 27, 2011 Patrick McCoy rated it really liked it
Ian Buruma has been one of my favorite Asian critics for a while, so I was looking forward to reading his latest book, Occidentalism, which was co-written with Avishai Margalit. And as usual, it is filled with well-researched arguments and clear representations of his critical thought. Although this slim book (149 pages of text) comes off as an extended essay, which isn’t really a detraction. However, the book could have been expanded. I imagine it might have been rushed through given its timely ...more
Dec 23, 2010 Ilya rated it really liked it
This short book tries to explore the hatred of the West (of its cities, of its sexual freedom, of its amoral trade, of its religious pluralism, of its materialism and consumerism) by the non-Westerners by tracing it to the West itself, mostly to early 19th-century German Romantics reacting against the French Revolution. Buruma and Margalit say that Russian Slavophiles such as Konstantin Leontiev, Japanese traditionalists, Islamic radicals such as Sayyid Qutb have all borrowed ultimately from the ...more
Ian Buruma is one of those rare writers who comes from a non-postcolonial background who can deal with issues of colonialism, the colonized, and historical conceptions of East versus West without coming off as a privileged-class, First World intellectual totally alienated from his subjects.

Instead, he provides an exposition of a simple and convincing thesis-- that negative attitudes towards the West and the various currents referred to as "modernity" among intellectuals in Japan, Iran, Russia, e
Robert Risher
Sep 11, 2011 Robert Risher rated it really liked it
I was torn as to whether to give this book 4 or 5 stars, because despite the slow and torturous beginning, as I plodded forward, I eventually found a wonderfully revealing psychological map to the minds of the Cold War enemies of my youth. I approached the book with expectations of American defamation by varied sources from China and the Middle East, but what I found was a very scholarly and (at least on the surface) unbiased approach to the philosophies of Germany, Russia, and Japan, alongside ...more
M Grieco
Apr 17, 2007 M Grieco rated it it was amazing
The central thesis is that ideology of anti-western fighters in China, WWII Japan, Al Quaeda, etc is not homegrown but in fact an import/adaptation of European nationalism created in reaction to the overpowering capitalism/industrialism of France/England.

Furthermore it parralells the suicide fighters in German college men of WWI brainwashed by German nationalism to the Japanese college men of WWII brainwashed by Japanese nationalism to the college educated Islamic suicide bombers brainwashed by
Sep 11, 2013 Ross rated it really liked it
Everyone who watched the twin towers come down on September 11 twelve years ago should read this book. The authors detail varied European and Russian origins of anti-western and anti-US thinking then examine the spread and adaptation of this through a surprising range of political movements. Far from being dry, and with an economy of words, there are fascinating outlines here of the origins or Wahabism and Baathists, for example. An underpinning theme is why rationalism is not embraced by all. T ...more
The Treeman
Jun 06, 2013 The Treeman rated it really liked it
A clear and concise writing about how the so-called "enemies of the West" sees the west as the evil spirit of the world. The book provides the reader with many thought provoking answers about why the "free world" and "western democracy" isn't just a thing every country and culture wants to apply to their societies despite Fukuyama's "End of History"-idea.

Read it... If you want to gain a better understanding for why western ideas aren't view as God's bless around the world.

Avoid it... If you wan
Jul 27, 2009 Krishan rated it it was amazing
Buruma and Margalit present a powerful counter analysis of Western power contra Edward Said.
More than just a rejoinder to stereotypes of the west, this book is a substantive rebuttal to anti-western politics. From extreme anti-western wahabbism, to 'sophisticated' anti-western cultural studies a-la Said and crew, no illusions are spared.
In short, we have a total smackdown of anti-western apologists. A much needed tonic, to be enjoyed along with Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Paul Berman, Ibn
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Ian Buruma is a British-Dutch writer and academic, much of whose work focuses on the culture of Asia, particularly that of 20th-century Japan, where he lived and worked for many years.
More about Ian Buruma...

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