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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

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,456 ratings  ·  95 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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4.05  · 
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 ·  1,456 ratings  ·  95 reviews

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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
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
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.
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: media, islam
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 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
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.
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.
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
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..
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
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."
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
Prachi Shah
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is important. Important for anyone, who thought it was alright to generalize and stereotype a race. Back in 2016, I was doing a research paper on Iranian politics where I try to confirm with the west and try not to criticize the same for apparent errors in policy making. After knowing what I know now, I am grateful that the publishing of the research paper was shelved and I have a chance to correct the grotesque inaccuracies. While reading covering Islam with my otherwise normalized id ...more
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
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
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, bu
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend! Said produces a brilliant, multi-layered set of arguments about how corporate mass media, the university system, and their tight links to the US state help to disparage, other-ize, and misrepresent Islam, Arabs, and Middle East residents to western observers. These depictions, and the processes that create them, generate support for US imperialism and its ongoing wars of occupation in the Middle East.
Rhiannon Grant
Although even this new edition is now rather out of date, the problem described seems to have got worse rather than better - and it is useful to be reminded that American and European journalists were failing to understand the complexity of Islam long before 9/11.
Xeneb Shah
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Put my thoughts into words. Edward said opened a world of post colonialism I didn't know existed
Well-researched and balanced, feels relevant even after two decades. Very easy to read, completed in one sitting.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very well written. Said dives into topics not normally talked about or analyzed in the US.
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was great but, to be frank, terrible at the same time. Why?

Author, Said's premise is that the West and, in particular, the US's understanding of the Middle East/Arabic/Persian world and culture has been conflated with an amorphous concept of 'Islam' which is largely inaccurate and framed within the paradigm of assumptions that Islam is inherently anti-Western and terroristic. He goes into great depth about how most Mid-East scholars, since they are in the service of governments, founda
Simon Wood
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Edward W. Saids "Covering Islam" is the third in a trilogy of books (see also "Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient" and "The Question of Palestine") in which (to use Saids words): "I attempted to treat the modern relationship between the world of Islam, the Arabs, and the Orient on the one hand, and on the other the West: France, Britain, and in particular the United States".

The trigger for this book (originally published in 1981 and updated in 1997) is evidently th
This was a difficult, but important book to read. Difficult, because it's level of scholarship and vocabulary far exceed my current capabilities.

Important, because it is good to challenge and stretch one's own boundaries, and because it questions the American media portrayal of 'Islam' and the 'Middle East' as far too narrowed and in its own interest. Say whatever you will about the matter, the fact is, American knowledge in this area is skewed for political policy, or simply because of a shorta
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(Arabic Profile إدوارد سعيد)
Edward Wadie Said (Arabic: إدوارد وديع سعيد [wædiːʕ sæʕiːd], Idwārd Wadīʿ Saʿīd; 1 November 1935 – 25 September 2003) 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
“مطلبي هو الإحترام الواجب للتفاصيل الملموسة للخبرة البشرية، والتفهم النابع من النظر إلى "الآخر" نظرة ود وتراحم؛ والمعرفة التي تُكتسب وتُنشر بأمانة أخلاقية وفكرية؛ فهذه بالتأكيد أهداف أفضل وإن لم تكن أيسر تحقيقا في الوقت الحاضر من المواجهة والعداء الذي يختزل الخصوم ويحقّرهم.” 38 likes
“عندما جعل علي شريعتي هجرة النبي محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم من مكه إلى المدينة ،فجعلها تنطبق على وضع الإنسان ذاته باعتباره اختياراً وكفاحا وصيروره متواصله ،إنه هجره لانهائية ،هجرة داخل نفسه من الصلصال إلى الإله ،إنه مهاجر داخل روحه نفسها” 13 likes
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