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In the academic world, this book has become well-known and influential that a realistic estimate of its impact has the sound of hyperbole. That makes it worth reading in the same way as Plato's _Republic_ or Machiavelli's _The Prince_; you may not agree with all or even much of its arguments, but there's much value simply in knowing what these ideas are that so many people are thinking and talking about.
For those who don't know the book, it describes the connections between how European empires (and the US, somewhat) controlled the Middle East politically, fantasized about it, and studied it, arguing that these were all aspects of the same structures and processes. It suffers from a certain amount of contradiction and one-sided argument, but I think that when Said was writing in the 1970s the other side of the argument--the pro-colonialist side--was more frequently heard than it is now.
Another reviewer complained that he quit after listening for 45 minutes and finding that it was all generic political arguments. I think that reviewer never got past the new preface, which does go on for something like 45 minutes. The preface was added around 2004 and is mainly a fairly standard critique of the US invasion of Iraq from the perspective of its early years. There's no solution but to be patient and wait for the book itself to begin.
I've had a print copy for years and never got around to reading it, but am finding the audio version pleasant going. Said's writing is much clearer and jargon-free than many of his admirers--he is a scholar of literature, after all. The reader does well enough to keep my attention, and handles fairly well the French words that show up regularly. There are times when he sounds exactly like a computer-generated voice reading text, but his reading doesn't put me to sleep.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
I had heard of Orientalism for many years -- it was on my feel-guilty-because-I-haven't-read-it list. I was more or less shocked to see that Audible was offering it -- unabridged, yet. What shocked me further is that its vitality grabs you by the throat from word one. I'm sure that part of the effect is produced by the superb narrator, but most of it must come from the impassioned yet inescapably logical author. i'll never think the same way about people in the non-rich world again.
22 of 25 people found this review helpful