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Contending Visions of the Middle East
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Book description

Zachary Lockman's book offers a broad survey of the development of Western knowledge about Islam and the Middle East. Beginning with ancient Greek and Roman conceptions of the world, the book goes on to discuss European ideas about Islam from its emergence in the seventh century, with particular attention to the age of European imperialism, the era of deepening American involvement in this region, and the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Along the way, Lockman explores how scholars and others in the West have studied and depicted Islam and the Middle East, focusing on the politics and controversies that have shaped Middle East studies in the United States over the past half century, including the debates over Said's influential critique, Orientalism. This book relates many of today's critical issues, including Muslim extremism, terrorism and United States policy in the Middle East, to the broader historical and political contexts.


‘Lockman’s book will be widely read. There can be no doubt that the subject is an important one, not just to those in the field of Middle East Studies, but to the academic community and to a segment of the general public as well. As the book argues, a knowledge of the history of Middle East Studies is vital in assessing arguments put forward by academics, pundits and politicians.’

Edmund Burke III - University of California, Santa Cruz

'Orientalism is the story of Western wonderings about the East. Zachary Lockman's book is an accessible précis of that story. … this is a lively, passionate and important book - a splendidly researched indictment of the tendency to shabby reductionism. It is a call to look inside ourselves and our societies for the roots of chauvinist pastiche and a chilling demonstration of the fact that unless we go out and grapple with complexity, complexity will come in and smother us.'

Source: Contemporary Reviews

'… offers a highly thought-out analysis of the historical, political and cultural features of the main western academic trends that have shaped our perceptions of the Middle East and Islam … This is an essential study for anyone interested in the politics of the region and foreign involvement in it.'

Source: International Affairs

'The author skilfully traces … the … reactions to the rise of Islamism (it is good to have done with the term 'fundamentalism') and, most recently, terrorism, with a lucid style with a praiseworthy absence of the leaden prose and jargon that disfigured so much American political and social science writing.'

Source: The Times Literary Supplement

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