Very thought-provoking. Rustomji's study of the 11–12th centuries is almost exclusively Persian. Of course, that provided an abundance of "Islamic" liVery thought-provoking. Rustomji's study of the 11–12th centuries is almost exclusively Persian. Of course, that provided an abundance of "Islamic" literature yet more attention could have been paid to Andalusía and North Africa, where gardens played a critical role in the establishment of political power and as representative of the intermediary plane between the heavens and earth....more
William Hogeland tackles the hapless historiography of pundits and the amnesia befallen the American citizenry in three distinct essays. In his firstWilliam Hogeland tackles the hapless historiography of pundits and the amnesia befallen the American citizenry in three distinct essays. In his first essay, Hogeland combats the rising tide of romantic Hamiltonianism. Hamilton has become the poster-child of neoliberal economists, libertarians and fiscal conservatives. In the past decade, there has emerged a cottage industry of scholarships and literature on Hamilton as the forgotten giant of the Founding Fathers. Foremost amongst the neo-Hamiltonians is the conservative columnist David Brooks, whose myth-building Hogeland takes particularly relishes to topple. Its story that so often happens in the manipulation of history to find precedent and, hence, validation for political agendas. Lost in the cherry-picking of history is the full picture of Hamilton's ideology which does not fit neatly into our current political dichotomy. His critical analysis is exceptional in this first essay and could have easily pursued his lead for another 200 pages.
The following two essays also have their own merits. In the second, he deals with the strange cases of Pete Seeger and William F. Buckley in the work titled "American Dreamers." He deftly handles the intimate histories of both monumental figures of the Left and Right, respectively. This writer though is clearly not a polemicist but does take exception to the way in which their legacies are white-washed so that merely become monoliths devoid of their historical context and their human flaws. Similarly, he exhibits the same evenhanded in his final essay on the public history center charged with teaching the history of the Declaration and Constitution.
This is a quick but enjoyable read for anyone interested in works of politics, American history or the use of public history. There is no fine-toothed comb in his analysis; he is ruthless in his criticism of propagandists and is quick to belittle the talking heads of our society. Worthwhile read....more
I think that The Islamist is definitely an interesting read and very accessible. Perhaps, it is better to use the book in American classrooms, where tI think that The Islamist is definitely an interesting read and very accessible. Perhaps, it is better to use the book in American classrooms, where there is less tension revolving around Muslim identities (review written in 2009), than British. Although Ed Husain discredits the self-righteousness of Islamists like the Hizb and Wahhabis, it appears that he exhibits the same moral superiority over them. Still, without question, I admire his tolerance and his mission, yet I wonder how convoluted that mission becomes in the British political landscape with the myriad of agendas. Regardless, he competently outlines grassroots Islamism in Europe and the general ignorance of traditional Muslim heritage and the misrepresentation of true Islam within those circles.
My concern has more to do with the social embrace of Husain than Husain himself. The following is less a criticism of him than of the British media and the government. In the coverage of Muslims these days, there seems to be a strong distinction between the stories of "good" Muslims and "bad" Muslims. The "good" Muslims are the ones who comply with the assimilationist demands of the host country--those who do not wear their religion on their sleeve. The "bad" ones are the visible Muslims. Obviously there is a strong debate about the role of Muslims in European societies. The mainstream coverage under-represents the side who seek "integration" into Europe--a two-sided cultural negotiation between immigrants and host nation--and they become cornered as political Islamists. In a way, it reminds me of the debate between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois over accommodationism--one becomes caricatured as an "uncle Tom" while the other is labeled as a militant.
Now Husain runs a think tank called the Quillam Foundation whose expressed purpose is counter-extremism and the revival of Western Islam. There is a huge rush in European circles to anoint such figures as prophetic voices (see Ayaan Hirsi Ali, discredited after her meteoric rise in Dutch politics). Husain's may be a voice of moderation, but we cannot ignore that it also has a political motivation--one that appeals to the ears of many European officials....more
I cracked this book for the first time with high hopes. After researching and writing on the Bosnian genocide, I was eager to tackle Slavenka DrakulicI cracked this book for the first time with high hopes. After researching and writing on the Bosnian genocide, I was eager to tackle Slavenka Drakulic's perspective on the ethnic cleansing of the former Yugoslavia. For all the history written about the fighting itself, very little ink is spent on the human behavior that brought these nationalities to such unthinkable crimes.
Drakulic, a Croatian professor living mostly in Sweden, approaches each individual on trial from a critical yet at times sympathetic angle. What she bestows us is an intimate portrait of the killers, who according to her thesis defied theirs banal stations in life to contribute to genocide. The passion in Drakulic's writing is clear from the outset. Yet, despite that fervor, she left me anticipating more from the subjects. Her treatment of each perpetrator on trial rides mostly on speculation. As she delves into the personal life of men like Slobodan Milosevic and Ratko Mladic, the reader is left to take that leap with her. She creates stories where no facts nor sources lie. In the end, her indictment of the war and these men and women suffers because of these assumptions.
I do not hesitate to say that this book consistently intrigues, but it does not shed sufficient life on the decade which precedes the collapse of Yugoslavia. The years of state-endorsed radio propaganda exists as a mere shadow in her essays. Too often does she paint the criminals as ordinary, sad saps. Again, her psychoanalysis of the individuals robs us a reliable critique of human behavior in the Balkans. Although there is much potential in this book, I set it down frustrated. It does not have a place in academic research [there are no sources or footnotes provided:], but is a fine supplementary resource....more
John Shattuck was a political appointee in the Clinton administration, selected as the human rights honcho at the State Department. In this book, he oJohn Shattuck was a political appointee in the Clinton administration, selected as the human rights honcho at the State Department. In this book, he openly shares the struggle to find an honored place for human rights within the politics and bureaucracy of Washington and abroad. Let's just say: it's a bleak picture. Shattuck arrives in Washington at a moment when the world is embarking on a new chapter in geopolitical relations. The collapse of the Soviet Union leaves the US as the sole hegemony, and they handle it about as well as a fifth grader at his first middle school dance ... that is, awkwardly.
For all the rhetoric of freedom and traditional American values. It becomes clear that such convictions become victim not only to bi-partisan dueling of Capitol Hill but also contentious factions within an administration. In the accounts, Clinton is not always portrayed positively. Clearly, he is a well-intentioned idealistic child of the Sixties, but the pressure of the office in the early-goings buckle the cavalier. After all, he has earned the nickname Slick Willy, political astuteness is his forté.
With the horrors of Rwanda, Bosnia and Haiti and the diplomatic bouts with China, Shattuck lends a valuable perspective. His conclusions miss the mark a bit. Indeed, he is not an international relations scholar and his points come off as a little too prosaic. The narrative plods a little at times, but the intention is always admirable. He wrote this in 2003 and it is painful to reflect on the years to follow and how little his lessons colored our international policy....more
A diverse cross-section of perspectives and disciplines to the situation in Bosnia. The essay on the "Complicity of Serbian Intellectuals" was what drA diverse cross-section of perspectives and disciplines to the situation in Bosnia. The essay on the "Complicity of Serbian Intellectuals" was what drew me to this book. It was decent, but I found some firm evidence from other sources, which did not find its way into this essay. This is not a comprehensive work, but more or less a snapshot of catastrophe in its immediate aftermath (and before the Kosovo war). If nothing else, it shows the growing pains of the international community, and its inability to confront such humanitarian crises. ...more
Though, I do not agree with everything Appadurai observes and theorizes in this essay, I do believe that it is interesting geopolitical perspective. IThough, I do not agree with everything Appadurai observes and theorizes in this essay, I do believe that it is interesting geopolitical perspective. In the face of globalization, and an economic system that awkwardly fits the current political system, we are faced with more internal/"domestic" conflicts. Appadurai provides some interesting insights into the modern concept nationhood, wherein the national character is defined around its majority. Also, importantly, Appadurai foresees the eventual out-dated conclusion of nation-states (already fast-approaching). As terrorism has become more prevalent, the world has fallen into a propensity to "hate from afar." This long-distance hatred has brought on conformity, a denigration of a lifestyle -- what Appadurai calls "civicide", and, eventually, and violence. There is room optimism for this academic. As the vertebrate (the nation-state) faces off against the cellular (i.e. terror cells), the weight and hope of the tilt may rest in grassroots globalization, or cellular utopian groups. Citizens and activists became greater players in the geopolitical chess-match. It is a dense read, at times, but left plenty of inspiration and desire for reflection....more