Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

tomscud | Comments (5)
Filed Under: Film

Another in a line of American movies exposing the dark side of the War on Terror, Harold and Kumar is a stunning indictment of that so-called "war's" injustice and hypocrisy....[More]

Crush the Cell: How to Defeat Terrorism Without Terrorizing Ourselves

Matthew Hogan | Comments (17)
Filed Under: 18th - 20th century , Gulf , Iran , Iraq , Islam , Levant , Political Islam , Society & Culture

Simply put: this is a damn good book about fighting al-Qaeda, especially when one considers it was written by a member of the US counterintelligence establishment. It has shortcomings especially if one is, as I am, disturbed by some of the author's proposed counterterrorism solutions (more "random" searches, wiretaps,etc.). Still,...[More]

Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone

dubaiwalla | Comments (6)
Filed Under: Iraq

Our readers are doubtless already familiar with the allegation that the Bush Administration made an epic mess of Iraq. But what exactly did they do wrong? Rajiv Chandrasekaran explores this in his account of the year and a bit immediately after the invasion, when the country was officially occupied....[More]


eerie | Comments (47)
Filed Under: Society & Culture

Well, here it is. After much haranguing by Matthew and Lounsbury, everyone finally gets to hear what I think about Ayaan Hirsi Ali's memoir, Infidel. When I started the book this past summer, I forced myself to read it with an open mind (as opposed to the snarky cynicism I've...[More]

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People

Matthew Hogan | Comments (11)
Filed Under: Film , Islam , Levant , MENA History , Society & Culture

The bottom line, up front: Jack Shaheen's Reel Bad Arabs is a necessary resource for anyone seriously interested in the subject of negative stereotyping of Arabs in American cinema. The best supplement to this book, by the way, besides its recently released DVD companion piece, is the same author's The...[More]


Mark Twain's "The Innocents Abroad"

Matthew Hogan - March 6, 2010 09:38 AM | Comments (0)
Filed Under: 18th - 20th century , Levant

Coincidentally, I re-picked up this 1867 humorous classic travelogue of Mark Twain's for a (re-)glance not too long after Mr. Netanyahu had threatened to (re-)use it for sundry and sordid Middle East polemics. The Israeli Prime Minister had planned to deliver a copy as a gift to Barack Obama last year.

(There's also some general literary special interest in Twain's works going on now, because 2010 is the centenary year of his death.)

The Innocents Abroad tells the tales of the legendary American writer's long trip across Europe and the Near East in the late 1860s. He wrote a series of diary-based articles based on the journey. These ultimately became the book. The travel humor is alive and well today, and not especially outdated, and relates well to the ups and downs of modern tourism. The work, however, is also oft-quoted these days by some Israel supporters, hence Netanyahu's literary excursion.

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The Birth of Modern Yemen

dubaiwalla - August 6, 2009 03:18 AM | Comments (7)
Filed Under: 18th - 20th century

You know a country must have issues when its problems stick out in a region as troubled as the Middle East. Brian Whitaker's latest book examines the tumultuous course of events in Yemen during the early 1990s.

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Under the Cover of War: the Zionist Expulsion of the Palestinians

dubaiwalla - December 13, 2008 09:01 PM | Comments (1)
Filed Under: 18th - 20th century , Levant , MENA History

The Arab-Israeli conflict is central to any discussion of Middle Eastern history over the past few decades, and the fate of Palestinian refugees lies at the heart of problem. In her book, Rosemarie Esber examines the last few months of Mandate rule in the Holy Land, in order to discuss...[More]

The Other Islam: Sufism and the Road to Global Harmony

Matthew Hogan - October 19, 2008 02:17 AM | Comments (16)
Filed Under: Islam , MENA History , Ottoman Empire , Political Islam , Society & Culture

Let's be upbeat: this book, released last month, doesn't totally stink. The author's personal politics might lead one to expect the worst, but neoconservative Stephen Schwartz does manage in his book to provide both interesting information and genuine thoughtfulness about religious faith and Sufi Islam. This is salutary because his...[More]

Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success

dubaiwalla - September 15, 2008 11:27 AM | Comments (5)
Filed Under: 18th - 20th century , Economics , Gulf , MENA History

Christopher Davidson's study of Dubai aims to evenhandedly tackle the city's history, politics, security, economics, and society. The city's rulers were so unhappy about the subjects discussed that they initially attempted to ban it. So why did I not lap it up?...[More]