Book Notes

Imagining the Arab Other: How Arabs and Non-Arabs View Each Other

Another entry in an overlong series of discussions on the construction of “otherness,” this anthology represents some of the results of an international colloquium held in 1993 by the Arab Association of Sociology, an organization that seems no longer to exist. In the preface, the book’s editor Tahir Labib purports this to be a set of papers chosen to...    read more 

China in Africa

China is in the midst of a remarkable economic expansion, but much of their continued economic development is premised on the availability of energy resources and raw materials. Since the 1990s, China has aggressively tapped African countries for its resources to meet these needs. Chinese state and private firms are active in Africa exploiting hardwoods, pum...    read more 

Jihad in Islamic History: Doctrines and Practice

The concept of jihad has been the subject of much debate and confusion in recent years, especially since September 11, 2001. At one extreme are the Islamists insisting that jihad is the sixth pillar of Islam and using it to justify a movement that glorifies violence and terror. The clearest expression of this was in February 1998 when Osama bin Laden and h...    read more 

When Things Fell Apart: State Failure in Late-Century Africa

Like other developing regions of the world, Africa was host to much violence, bloodshed, and political upheaval during the twentieth century. The “Year of Africa” (1960) and subsequent independence movements, it was thought and hoped, would bring a more stable and prosperous future for the continent. Yet, violence, bloodshed, and upheaval persisted to ...    read more 

African Politics in Comparative Perspective

In African Politics in Comparative Perspective respected veteran Africanist Goran Hyden tackles those perennial vexing questions: What is wrong with modern African states? Can they be fixed? And if so, how? The questions are easy to pose and incredibly difficult to answer. But in this synthetic work pulling together decades worth of scholarship, especiall...    read more 

The Kurds Ascending

What is to become of Iraq's Kurds in light of recent difficulties in forming a central Iraqi government on which all ethnic groups can agree? How is Turkey's pursuit of joining the EU affecting the future of its Kurds? According to Michael Gunter, we are witnessing an unprecedented ascension of the Kurds in the Middle East. Gunter, a professor of political ...    read more 

Over a Barrel: Breaking Big Oil’s Grip on Our Future

In psychological terms, an addiction is the compulsive use of a substance despite potentially adverse consequences with a need for an increased amount of the substance over time. But the United States’ predicament concerning our reliance on oil and other fossil fuels is more than just an addiction. It is a form of national assisted suicide—both environme...    read more 

Pens and Swords: How the American Mainstream Media Report the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

While there are numerous books analyzing reporting about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the hard reality is that many of these books lack in scholarship and objectivity. One of the latest entries in the field, Pens and Swords: How the American Mainstream Media Report the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, unfortunately does little to change this trend. In ...    read more 

Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad

“The blind leading the blind.” This phrase could sum up the counterterrorism policies of large swaths of the United States government throughout the late 1980s and the 1990s, including the White House, the State Department, the National Security Council, and even the FBI. With the first bombing of the World Trade Center in February of 1993, however, a co...    read more 

Islamic Society and State Power in Senegal: Disciples and Citizens in Fatick

This exemplary, nuanced case study examines much more than the interaction between Islam and the contemporary African state of Senegal. Villalón demonstrates how the two legs of a three-legged vessel are mediated by and for the third element, groups of people in Senegal in general, and by groups of people in the small community of Fatick in particular. Toge...    read more