There’s nothing particularly new here, at least not to readers of Karl Popper and Bernard Lewis, but Occidentalism makes for...

OCCIDENTALISM

THE WEST IN THE EYES OF ITS ENEMIES

How do I loathe thee? Let the mullahs count the ways.

There are many reasons for non-Westerners to hate the West, write Buruma (Luce Professor/Bard College; Bad Elements, 2001, etc.) and Margalit (Philosophy/Hebrew University; The Decent Society, 1996): some may despise the political, military, and economic reach of the First World into every corner of the planet; some may long for a pastoral arcadia in the face of urbanism; some may simply not like Madonna and other bejeweled emblems of Western pop culture. Usefully, the authors, borrowing a page from Edward Said’s Orientalism, collapse this cluster of prejudices into the blanket term “Occidentalism,” which seems a good-enough rubric to encompass the loathing of unreconstructed Communists in Russia and the sputtering hatred of Muslim jihadis alike. “Without understanding those who hate the West,” they write, dramatically, “we cannot hope to stop them from destroying humanity.” The succeeding text offers a guided tour of those enemies, characterized rather sweepingly (“Antithetical of the Western mind is the Russian soul”; “Matter, in the Occidentalist view, shared by some extreme Hindus or prewar Japanese Shintoists, is the god of the West and materialism its religion”). In the end, the enemies of the West seem to be the same as ever: Western-schooled intellectuals and their rural allies, poisoned by mostly German ideas of ethnic nationalism or ideological purity, producing little but “variations on the death cult.” The authors close by cautioning that the rising tide of religious fundamentalism in the West is no answer to the noxious twerps who haunt the backwaters: “We cannot afford to close our societies as a defense against those who have closed theirs. For then we would all become Occidentalists, and there would be nothing left to defend.”

There’s nothing particularly new here, at least not to readers of Karl Popper and Bernard Lewis, but Occidentalism makes for a needed provocation all the same.

Pub Date: March 22, 2004

ISBN: 1-59420-008-4

Page Count: 166

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2004

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more