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The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity Hardcover – Apr 17 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; First Edition First Printing edition (April 17 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859846793
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859846797
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 16.4 x 3.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 594 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #733,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Quickhappy on March 12 2003
Format: Hardcover
I'm very sympathetic to Mr. Ali's position--he is an ardent critic of both Western imperialism and Islamic fanaticism. However, Mr. Ali rushed this book into print, without the advent of good editing. His lack of organization, and his reckless assertions deeply flaw what would otherwise be a valuable book.
Left in its current state, _The Clash of Fundamentalisms_ is rambling and fractured, bouncing from one topic to the next with little structure. More disturbing are Ali's wild and unsubstantiated statements--such as his claims that the US deliberately shot down an Iranian airliner. He often sounds like a conspiracy theorist because he makes this kind of assertion without presenting any evidence.
The book works better when Ali is documenting reckless Western behavior abroad. For example, Ali recounts the US destruction of Egyptian labor movement and democracy, and the promotion of Islamic fascists there.
All in all, Ali offers the reader some valuable background about the imperialism in the MiddleEast and many details in the rise of a peculiar kind of Islamic fundamentalism. Ali shows how each of these fundamentalisms colluded with and fomented the rise of the other.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steven Reynolds on Feb. 22 2003
Format: Hardcover
Those who think looking for an explanation for September 11 in the unfortunate collision of American foreign policy and fundamentalist Islam is to somehow "excuse" the terrorists will find nothing to please them here - nor anything to flatter their prejudices. Tariq Ali is an atheist, and he's just as brutal in his dismissal of Islam and other religions as he is of Western imperialism. Religion is to be rejected for two reasons, he says: it is a set of ideological delusions; and it is a system of institutional oppression, with immense powers of persecution and intolerance. So don't buy or reject this book thinking Ali's an apologist for Islam and a hater of the West. "The Clash of Fundamentalisms" is about the long history of South Asia and the Middle East, the engagement of Islam and the West, and the consequences of their conflicting interests. It requires some understanding of Middle Eastern history and politics, but not a lot. It will appeal mainly to those wanting to understand the background to the current Middle East situation and the motivations for the terrorist attacks; who want to know how America's fanatical efforts to repel Communism from every corner of the globe drew it into some dangerous, secret and unlikely alliances and how we're only reaping the "rewards" of that now. You will have to be fearless enough to accept that the terrorists were not illiterate, bearded fanatics from the mountains of Afghanistan but, as Ali puts it, "highly-skilled, middle-class professionals" acting on a sincere religious conviction. That we find that conviction deplorable, and their murderous actions utterly indefensible, should not discourage us from trying to understand them. Surely understanding the enemy is an essential element of an effective strategy for defeating them?Read more ›
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Themis Matsoukas on May 27 2004
Format: Paperback
I would normally start a review by explaining what the book is about but for Ali's The Clash of Fundamentalisms I will have to start backwards: the book is not about fundamentalism, nor about the increasing religious overtones in the foreign policies of Washington, as the title -and the creative book cover- suggest. In the introduction Ali justifies the title by outlining his thesis: the most dangerous of all fundamentalisms is imperialism. What follows is a history of the muslim world from the birth of Islam to the defeat and political decay of Arab nationalism, as seen through the prism of a leftist secular nationalist muslim.
One may agree or disagree with Ali's point of view but his analysis is emotional and unconvincing. No thinking person believes that the first Iraq war was fought in the name of Freedom, but to argue this point by suggesting that the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was no different from the Indonesian seizure of East Timor suggests a disappointingly naive, or perhaps hopelessly idealistic view of the world. Ali concludes: "The lesson is not that aggressive territorial expansion [i.e. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait] is a crime that cannot be allowed to pay, it is that to conduct it with success a state must act in the interests of the West too." One should not have to read a 400-page book to learn the obvious.
Ali, however, is not a boring writer and if you are not allergic to the word "imperialism," the book is interesting to read. Even after dismissing his analysis, what is left is an engaging narrative, the product of his intimate knowledge of the worlds he describes. His accounts are enlightening, especially those of his native Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and India.
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Format: Paperback
Powerful empires in previous centuries have never understood the wrath of their subjects, says Ali, and the American Empire is no exception. The historian, novelist, playwright, screen writer, filmmaker, and editor of the , explains why much of the world does not see the Empire as Good. His backdrop is a clash between a religious fundamentalism begat by modernity, and an imperial fundamentalism determined to discipline the world. It is necessary, he insists, to oppose both, and to create a space in both Islam and the West where freedom of thought and imagination can be defended.
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