Few books in the modern world have acquired the stature of Edward Said's "Orientalism". It has become the de facto authority on the Western perspective of the Middle Eastern and Oriental worlds. Using impeccable scholarship and irrefutable evidence from two centuries' worth of European writing about the East, Edward Said lays down an indisputable case about how Western so-called "objective" and "scientific" study of the East has been corrupted and is far from describing reality. "Orientalism"'s main achievement, however, spreads far beyond the arena of "Oriental Studies" or "Near Eastern Studies" as they are now called. This book demonstrates using an in-depth case study how an entire field of study can be constructed out of self-reinforcing fiction that tends to gather its own inertia and develop its own seemingly self-consistent world. "Orientalism" therefore is a strong warning not only to Orientalists but to all unsuspecting researchers in any subject (even science) who might, deliberately or not, end up constructing their own mythical world. "Orientalism" also analyses the intricate relationships between knowledge and power, demonstrating the fallacy of taking knowledge for granted without analyzing and understanding the power structure that brought this "knowledge" into being.
This is a highly recommended book. It's only weakness is that it can somewhat difficult reading, thanks to its author's genius and total mastery of the English language. I often had to underline difficult words and look them up in a dictionary, and read over some paragraphs again and again in order to grasp the complex ideas, so once I was done with the book my GRE score improved 100 points. Seriously, though, "Orientalism" is a very perceptive and methodical study of an important topic today: the relationship between East and West.