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The Dream Palace of the Arabs

A Generation's Odyssey

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From Fouad Ajami, an acclaimed author and chronicler of Arab politics, comes a compelling account of how a generation of Arab intellectuals tried to introduce cultural renewals in their homelands through the forces of modernity and secularism. Ultimately, they came to face disappointment, exile, and, on occasion, death. Brilliantly weaving together the strands of a tumultuous century in Arab political thought, history, and poetry, Ajami takes us from the ruins of Beirut's once glittering metropolis to the land of Egypt, where struggle rages between a modernist impulse and an Islamist insurgency, from Nasser's pan-Arab nationalist ambitions to the emergence of an uneasy Pax Americana in Arab lands, from the triumphalism of the Gulf War to the continuing anguished debate over the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords.

For anyone who seeks to understand the Middle East, here is an insider's unflinching analysis of the collision between intellectual life and political realities in the Arab world today.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 02, 1998 – In the mid-20th century, a visionary generation of Arab writers and intellectuals attempted to blend the best of "Arab heritage" with that of "contemporary Western civilization and culture" to create an enlightened "Arab awakening." In this nuanced, rich and accessible amalgamation of literary criticism, history and political commentary, Ajami, professor of Middle Eastern studies at Johns Hopkins, explores the origin of this dream and its almost complete destruction by the rise of Islamic extremism in the last 25 years. Drawing on the lives and the work of the most influential Arab writers born after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, Ajami traces dramatic examples of how these writers' personal ordeals often spoke to a wider generational theme--the shift from creative idealism to disappointment with increasingly rigid political structures. He starts with a very specific example, that of Lebanese poet and Arab nationalist Khalil Hawi, who was so disillusioned with "Arab enlightenment" and so devastated by Israel's June 6, 1982, invasion of Lebanon that he killed himself that very day. Other sections deal with the reactions of other writers to Ayatollah Khomeini's theocracy; to the 1981 assassination of Anwar al-Sadat; to the 1994 stabbing of novelist Naguib Mahfuz by Islamic extremists; to the importation of Western consumerism rather than Western humanism; and to Israel. Though the "dream palace of the Arabs" is a complex, enormous, sometimes arcane structure, Ajami's cogent distillation of the works and politics of Arab writers offers even the most general reader a cohesive and illuminating cultural history.
The Dream Palace of the Arabs
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Middle East
  • Published: Feb 10, 1998
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 368 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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