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December 27, 2005


No Naguib Mahfouz? Not "relevant" enough?

I greatly enjoyed reading Thomas Friedman's _From Beirut to Jerusalem_, which gives insight into daily life in Lebanon during the Civil War as well as offering a serious critique of U.S. support for Israel. I'd be interested to hear what others think of it. Clearly not everything Friedman has written recently is as insightful. His earlier book was informed by the fact that he actually lived in Beirut and Jerusalem.

Thank you for this list! I ended up at Barnes and Noble today and picked up the first book you mentioned, History of the Arabs, by Philip K. Hitti. MY! It's a big book! LOL

Hey, ANY excuse to end up in a bookstore. I love to be surrounded by books.


I was just looking at Naguib Mahfouz's novels on my bookshelf, and musing over a larger, fiction list. How could I have left out Naguib Mahfouz? Probably because his books are so specific to Egypt that I wasn't thinking of them in terms of an overview. But I'm also realizing I ought to do a list that includes the folks on my Amazon booklist at left, plus other contemporaries. Oh dear.

I'll update with Mr. Mahfouz. I will also add Max Rodenbeck's book about Cairo.

I liked Friedman's book Beirut to Jerusalem when it first came out. Few people remember that Friedman was censored by his own paper, the New York Times, in the summer of 1982 while he reported from Beirut. The city was under siege by Israelis, who were using cluster bombs on the population. These weapons cause terrible wounds and horrible deaths, and the Israelis had promised they weren't going to use them on people, under terms of the sales agreement they signed - with the USA. So Friedman reported the cluster bombs dropping on Beirut, the New York Times censored the report because it was so shocking, and Friedman protested. It all came out in the Village Voice.

Nowadays he talks like a total jerk *sometimes* but I will always feel kindly toward him because of 1982.

Hello! Just came across your site, and it looks like I'll want to spend some time here. I definitely want to check out the Orfalea book. Have you seen Alixa Naff's BECOMING AMERICAN: THE ARAB AMERICAN EXPERIENCE? I thought it was quite good.

Please stop by my own site, Aladdin's Rant, at http://aladdinsrant.blogspot.com when you have the opportunity.

the crusades through arab eyes is excellent. I also recommend "samarkand," a novel of his that seems to draw from his experience in writing the non-fiction.

Samarkand is on my bookshelf - I haven't gotten to it yet. Oh dear. I should spend less time on the internet and more time with books.

Amin Maalouf Website -
Biography, books, audio and video interviews, maps, ...
Have a nice visit !


I recommend, as I do to everyone, Abdulrahman Munif's *Cities of Salt* series. Another one I think is superb is Emile Habiby, *The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist*. Munif writes about an imaginary kingdom based on a conmposite of the Trucial States and Saudi Arabia (not, as some half-wits claim, Jordan).

I don't wish to be rude, but I find Friedman's writing intolerably horrid. It's basically Bernard Lewis' on valium. I read *What Went Wrong* by Lewis (it was a gift) and I must say it's vile. There, but for the grace of God, goes rancid sewage.

And no mention of "Orientalism" by Edward Said ?

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