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Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World
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Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,593 ratings  ·  105 reviews
From the Iranian hostage crisis through the Gulf War and the bombing of the World Trade Center, the American news media have portrayed "Islam" as a monolithic entity, synonymous with terrorism and religious hysteria. In this classic work, now updated, the author of Culture and Imperialism reveals the hidden agendas and distortions of fact that underlie even the most "objec ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published March 11th 1997 by Vintage (first published 1981)
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Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Edward Said's writing, even if it's about a certain historical event written in a particular historical context (something of which he himself is constantly aware), is timeless in the sense that he understands certain fundamental dynamics of human interaction and nature. These dynamics include the relationship of knowledge to both interpretation and power, as well as the consistent human tendency to objectify that which is different from us, a phenomenon known as "otherness" to people like me, o ...more
Bob Newman
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Son of Orientalism

Edward Said wrote one of the seminal books of the late 20th century (“Orientalism”) which influenced the way countless historians, anthropologists, economists, novelists, and travelers looked at other cultures. His main topic therein was, if I may be extremely succinct, how knowledge is created and how, in particular, it was created over several centuries as concerned the Middle East by imperialist/colonialist/racist writers of all kinds. Summing up such a potent book in a sen
Michael Finocchiaro
After laying the ideological foundations of Orientalism and exploring its impact on Western policy and thought towards the Muslim peoples, Saïd here analyzes how these factors inform the press and how it transforms and warps reality in reporting. If you wonder why CNN and Fox can continue to use falsehoods and slanderous stereotypes about "arabs" without barely any criticism in the rest of the mainstream media, you will not be disappointed. It is interesting to note that in another recent book I ...more
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: islam, media
The first edition of this book was written during the Iranian Revolution, so the majority of the incidents discussed refer to that or the oil shock of the 70s. I read the second edition that was published during the 90s, so it also includes some incidents from the 80s and the Gulf War. Despite its age, a lot of the points made about the way that Muslims are framed in the media are still valid, if not more so. There has been a lot of research into this area since this book was published, but most ...more
Apr 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Journalists and media consumers
Shelves: americanislam
Excellent book that discusses how the media frames the Islamic tradition and creates authoritative voices who represent Islam on the airwaves or in print, but are not necessarily "the" authoritative voices. ...more
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
First published in 1981 and updated in 1997, Said's critique of the media's coverage of Islam, particularly in the Middle East, is a thought-provoking challenge to any reader's perceptions of what is reported as news from that war-torn part of the world. Written before 9/11, subsequent military intervention in Afghanistan, and the current conflict in Iraq, the book's interpretation of events unfolding there (the aftermath of the Islamic revolution in Iran) are often prophetic. An understanding o ...more
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I don't know if there's such a thing as 'over-sympathy' towards Islam or not, but I couldn't really escape the sense that Edward Said often fell into sympathetic-justifying tone rather than sympathetic-explanatory tone in arguments of Islamic violence in the west or towards the west here. I understood that the whole discussion in the book is about The West and not about Islam, but if the book's tone made me uncomfortable and confused. I know that it's not realistic to say that, but: Western viol ...more
Though overly polemical at points, this is still an informative book that takes much of Said's key ideas from Orientalism and applies them to media coverage of the Middle East and Islam, helping to problematize the oversimplified portrayals of both.
Many of his main arguments are pretty obvious to us now (news stories often villainize Muslims) but give a much-needed historical backing to coverage of Islam before 9/11. I think that others I know my age tend to assume that many of our problems in
Matty B
Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book completely changed how I look at the headlines and news stories and reveals what a multi-faceted racist conflation the word "ISLAM" is in the mouths of western journalists. Also revealing is how much foreign policy is based on the shitty analysis of mis informed journalists. ...more
Much like in Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent, the conclusions that Edward Said draws in Covering Islam should be no big shocker to anyone who thinks critically about how American media operate. Simply put, racism and Islamophobia play a role in most media portrayals of the Islamic world, although not nearly as great a role as ignorance, laziness, arrogance, and the grand jump to conclusions. Really, Said is doing the lord's work-- pointing out just how naked certain emperors really are. ...more
Apr 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
A really good book on the media coverage of the Middle East And Islamic countries.
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sometimes a book points us inward, toward looking at how we think. This is such a book.

Many Muslim insurgents - particularly the Taliban - armed, trained, and bankrolled by the USA have now overrun the country. Some of those earlier American-trained guerrillas have turned up elsewhere.

Islam's viciousness, its resolute war against modernity and liberal values, reaches across the oceans into the heart of the West in order to challenge, provoke and threaten...

The entire factitious (artificially cre
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Who am I to rate an Edward Said book?
Diana Chamma
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
'At present, "Islam" and "the West" have taken on a powerful new urgency everywhere. An we must note immediately that it is always the West, and not Christianity, that seems pitted against Islam. Why? Because the assumption is that whereas "the West" is greater than and has surpassed the stage of Christianity, its principle religion, the world of Islam-its varied societies, histories, and languages notwithstanding-is still mired in religion, primitivity, and backwardness." p/10

'Therefore, the We
Kawtar Morchid
Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
This book did not really teach me anything new. It was all about western conspiracy stories, i would not presume that it's not happening, the thing is i've heard them so many times already. There are many explanations for what's going on in the world and i need to hear something more elaborate than just diabolizing a side or another. As much as i'm concerned, it was an okey read that illustrates some classic arab conclusions.. ...more
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A book originally written in 1980 as a criticism of mass media and the academic "experts" on their covering of "Islam". Edward Said might as well have written this book today. That is how good the book is, how accurate his analysis was, and how relevant his criticisms remain to this day.

The relevance of all this to the present-day politics, specifically in relations to mass media's portrayal of "Islam" and its subjects, being not only pre-911 but also from the early 1980s, was rather shocking. A
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
In Covering Islam, Said puts forward a sustained and persuasive argument against the biased and highly unhelpful Western (predominantly US) media that is mainly preoccupied in serving the strategic interest of the US government and it's allies in the Middle East (predominantly Israel, but also the dictatorships of various Arab regimes) rather than expending any investigative energy or creativity to discover and report on the nuisances and complexities within the Middle East. Said elegantly uses ...more
Dec 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-english
Very detailed. I would recommend only if you are very fascinated in a topic but actually, I think I would have enjoyed it more if besides of being deeply interested in the Middle East and various religions, I was passionate about journalism. The names mentioned in the book rarely said anything to me. I recognized Thomas L. Friedman because I have previously read his collection of columns. It feels like Said used to have very strong opinions on the USA, maybe negative ones, for sure when it comes ...more
Dec 29, 2015 marked it as to-keep-reference
Hay numerosas y excelentes críticas de los medios y su pretendida objetividad. Para dos buenos ejemplos, ver Edward Said, Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World (New York: Pantheon, 1981): y Edward Herman y Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of Mass Media (New York: Pantheon, 1988).

Imperio Pág.235

Aug 06, 2007 rated it liked it
the title says it all - but now another book is required to continue where the late Mr Said left off - "how readers/viewers' worldview built by these reportings color the rest of the coverage about the islamic world" and another one "how these reportings create self-image of the muslim world - some of which communities grow up with those news reports." ...more
Paul O'Leary
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an important book. Actually, more important today then when it was first published in 1981. My copy is the updated '97 edition, however. It's more important today because it directly addresses our current voguish blather(thanks for the borrow, Arthur jr) concerning the predominance of fake news in a forthright fashion well before the existence of Breitbart, HuffPo, or even the Internet. The focus of media fraud in this book is not on the presidential election, or even American politics, ...more
Apr 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
a must read for anyone who wants to understand the middle east in the media.
Chris S
Aug 13, 2018 rated it liked it
This book has an important message: "Islam" as a perceived, understood entity in the West has been constructed by the West in such as a way as to fundamentally misrepresent the Islamic world. The "Islamic world", which is a complex mixture of ethnicities, languages, points of view, and political sides, is reduced to a monolithic "Islam" which purports to explain that world and its permanent hostility to the West.

Edward Said hammers that point home more forthrightly than anybody my opi
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Said's book is a must read for the present moment. Building off of his earlier works like *Orientalism* this book directly addresses the 1970s-1990s and the inheritances of Islamophobia that Said tracks back centuries before. His basic argument that the concept of "Islam" is not a useful one to conceptualize the historical, social, economic, and political trajectories of the diverse factions of the Middle East still remains relevant; the concept hollows out history, over-generalizes, and project ...more

Edward Said has become one of my favorite non-fiction authors. He has style and he has important things to say. This book should be dated, technically – it was written/published in 1981 and republished in 1997 with slight updates – but it doesn’t feel dated at all. Said predicted the direction, or rather, he knew the direction in which the accumulated distrust and ignorance would push the world. He showed that most of American (and many of European) scholars are simply incompetent to “cover” “Is
Alex Lee
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: critical-theory, 2021
Post-colonialism is not my forte. However, this is a fairly intriguing book. Written and updated in the 80s and then the 90s, Said shows how American media is more interested in having control of the narrative for the general American populace than it is in educating Americans about what is going on in the middle East.

This is not too surprising. But in reading this text I am surprised that the format of the sound-bite nature of media and its insistence on flattening meaning in order to provide
Muhammed Nijim
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As usual, after writing his book the Orientalism, Said continues to expose the falsehoods of Western media and how they depict things in the Orient from their perspective. It is a completely critical book that condemns the traditional way that Western Journalists follow when they cover events in the East. Said suggest that journalists and researchers must learn certain things that are considered indispensable if they want to understand any phenomenon or issue in any Eastern society. He denounces ...more
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Said’s book, published in 1981, is more necessary than ever- particularly in the post 9/11 world of today. More than anything, this book has exposed to me how little has changed with regards to the presentation is islam in the last 40 years, and how it is imperative we challenge the ‘terrorist/oil-monopoly’ narrative with counter-narratives highlighting how Islam is far broader than terrorism and oil magnates.

After reading this book, I am more inclined to challenge media reports about which are
Jack Greenwood
Said's words are dated by 40 years but seem to bear even more relevance today. It's not just the incisive appraisal of the US media's method of reporting on the Islamic world, but more objectively, his startlingly clear dissection of what constitutes human knowledge and interpretation:

All knowledge that is about human society, and not about the natural world, is historical knowledge, and therefore rests upon judgment and interpretation. This is not to say that facts or data are non-existent, b
James Simpson
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a good companion to his other work 'Orientalism' as it explores in depth an example of modern day Orientalism which is the relationship between the West and Islam, as Westerners view of Islam is far from what is actually is true, mainly due to outdated stereotypes and archetypes that permeate society.
It is also an interesting exploration of how truth and fact is formed as often it comes from other people and not from an individual finding out things for themselves.
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(Arabic Profile إدوارد سعيد)
Edward Wadie Said was a professor of literature at Columbia University, a public intellectual, and a founder of the academic field of postcolonial studies. A Palestinian American born in Mandatory Palestine, he was a citizen of the United States by way of his father, a U.S. Army veteran.

Educated in the Western canon, at British and American schools, Said applied his ed

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