Finished September 30
Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies by Iam Buruma and Avishai Margalit
This book's purpose is not to demonize the enemies of the west or assist in the "war on terrorism", but to understand what drives Occidentalism, and to show that the suicide bombers of today have their roots in history that includes the west itself. Understanding doesn't provide excuses, but just additional knowledge in dealing with those who demonize the west.
The book looks at occidentalism from a variety of viewpoints. One is the idea of war against the west, one is the idea of the city as an occidental evil that with an urban reality destroys the local culture. Another looks at the idea of the hero versus the merchant, where the pursuit of economic wellbeing works against the true way things should be. Yet another looks at the philosophy of the mental model of the west as seen by its enemies and how they interpret the west's intent. We then get to religion and the various ways the west is seen as idolatrous, including the way that women are treated. The last is the seeds that bring revolution, looking at various examples and showing how some current situations mirror these historical ones, and theorizing what that means for the world going forward.
Well-researched and insightful, this analysis goes back more than two centuries to trace the roots of anti-Western ideas and sentiments, and places modern terrorists within this historical continuum.