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Orientalism

Narrated by: Peter Ganim
Length: 19 hrs and 2 mins
Categories: History, World
4.3 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This landmark book, first published in 1978, remains one of the most influential books in the Social Sciences, particularly Ethnic Studies and Postcolonialism. Said is best known for describing and critiquing "Orientalism", which he perceived as a constellation of false assumptions underlying Western attitudes toward the East. In Orientalism Said claimed a "subtle and persistent Eurocentric prejudice against Arabo-Islamic peoples and their culture." He argued that a long tradition of false and romanticized images of Asia and the Middle East in Western culture had served as an implicit justification for Europe and the US' colonial and imperial ambitions. Just as fiercely, he denounced the practice of Arab elites who internalized the US and British orientalists' ideas of Arabic culture. Peter Ganim's narration gives the work an elegant and knowledgable voice.

©1978 Edward Said (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Orientalism

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Brilliant

This is a brilliant critical analysis of the West's views of the non-western world. also the narrator is very good to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Delano
  • 27-02-2013

We're lucky to have this on audio

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.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Davyggrasil
  • 23-03-2017

Groundbreaking and amazing

Where does Orientalism rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The combination of a deeply researched text and skillful narration propels this work to my favourites shelf.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I had an extreme reaction in the fact that the book was incredibly enlightening, philosophically and academically (not that those two categories are always distinct).

Any additional comments?

Prepare to be challenged while reading and then continue to challenge previously held worldviews after you've finished.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gene Venable
  • 22-02-2011

Why now? Because it's about now.

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.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Graeme
  • 15-03-2016

Really Powerful Content

What did you like best about this story?

There were far fewer particular ideas and points in this book than than you might believe, given its length, but it's only because Said takes the time to expand upon each point with many historical proofs. If you want to learn about a history of racism towards people from the Middle East, start here. It will hammer the key points into your head very hard.

Any additional comments?

It is a difficult read. Emotionally for sure, but it gets hard to pay attention to after a while too. But, it's still very worth it to get to the end.

And the narration was fine. Did its job.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-07-2017

Impressive Scholarly Insight

Not sure how I missed reading this as an undergraduate majoring in history, but maybe that's the point. Said's classic, which includes an updated foreword and afterword, details the growth but more important, the odd persistence of the scholarly field called Orientalism. Said, a scholar at Colombia who was a lifelong advocate for the Palestinian cause (he was born in Bethlehem during the British Mandate and immigrated to US as a teenager), presents a convincing portrait of the pattern of primarily Western (especially British and American) scholars who for a variety of motives present a portrait of the "Oriental" world which is simplistic and stereotyped. Indeed, while many of the names are familiar (T.E. Lawrence, Rudyard Kipling, Bernard Lewis), many of the men are well-known only to the dedicated study of the Orient, particularly that part that comprises the Middle East. I urge anyone who wants to get a clearer understanding of why the rhetoric of Trump and his underlings is actually quite traditional to listen to this book. The reader does a good job in handling text that has quite a lot of extensive passages in French, German, and Arabic (some passages fortunately are translated) and has pleasant timbre.

Lastly, this book is controversial for many readers because it does portray Orientalists as almost without exception fundamentally biased against Arabs. What makes it controversial is in my mind the lack of criticism that the author had for the actions of some bad, and frankly, unIslamic, behavior (he manages a swipe at the fatwa against Salman Rushdie near book's end). To that criticism, Said makes the rejoinder that his point was not to show the history of the Middle East but how a single scholarly field came to be defined by the prejudiced polemics of its practicioners. Not an easy listen, but an important one.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jared L.
  • 07-12-2018

An Exhaustive Analysis

A well researched history of the study of the near east from a perspective outside of colonial and western biases. A bit too detailed at times, and sometimes condescending, but overall a very informative book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • sabrina
  • 31-05-2018

For the non French listeners

Lacking a fluency in French will make this book rather frustrating at times, as the reader is without subtitles or translation.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Val Shebeko
  • 10-07-2015

Required reading

Fabulous , wonderful, written by a thinking person. For thinking people. Read this book and prevent WW III

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jose
  • 12-05-2011

Wonderful! Epic! We need more like this around!

Thank you! THANK YOU!!
I want to thank you, Audible, for give scholars the opportunity to have their books in audio.
Edward Said deserves it.
I am really looking forward for the next publications. I hope there's more Edward Said coming!!
Please, the Audio Book field have reached an academic level that you, Audible, has the responsibility to fill this gap. More Academic Books! Please! and "Bravo" for Edward Said!

16 people found this helpful

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  • Nic Johnson
  • 20-01-2016

well said

this is allegedly a challenging book to read, and no doubt you'll have to relisten to parts of it, but the performance makes it easier and the flow is very nice. would have been better if some of the fench and German had more English translation, but this only crops up in a few places.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Hassan K
  • 10-06-2019

review

It raises important ideas. However, lot of repetition of same ideas. More of an academic review than a book for the generalist.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-06-2019

The voice is so robotic, it is unbearable

Amazing content, fantastic book really. But the voice is so robotic, it is unbearable and it is hard to concentrate. He makes it all sound the same.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Stephen Gott
  • 30-06-2018

One Of The Canons Of Cultural Studies

This is an important work on orientalism and colonialism by Edward Said.It certainly made me re-look at and re-assess my own ideas about the East ( in particular the Middle East ).You'll either love it,hate it or like me agree and disagree with different parts of the book.Whatever,you will certainly have an opinion about it.Its not an easy book to follow,due to its complicated subject matter and the annoyance of some French quotations not being translated into English.However,the struggle is worth it and is helped by a clear and well delivered reading by Peter Ganim.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Buyer
  • 23-09-2020

A true classic but

The book is a true classic and its content is unfortunately still valid today. However, I really disliked the quotes in foreign languages like French or German. I purchased a book in English and I want to hear or read all words and sentences in English.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 30-06-2020

A must read : on Racism in the academic endeavor

I am so sorry that I finished this book so quickly....not for the first time. this is a must read....must read again. and again.

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  • Manish
  • 12-04-2020

Difficult to Listen To

This is not a criticism of the book or its underlying premise. It rather reflects my poor choice as an audio book. This would be a better read with time to pause and reflect and review. You probably also need a degree in modern history and modern languages to capture all the information!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-04-2020

Don't Generalise

I love and can not find any fault with the issues raised by the author. it is very important to note the applicability of what is in the book to today's globalised world. I was hoping to hear a little more of Said's voice in a more confrontational and direct way. it is not the easiest book to listen to, especially for someone with little background in literary theory and middle Eastern studies. I tuned out a lot; so, I'll have to listen again (and again if need be) to properly understand what the book entails.

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  • M A
  • 03-04-2017

Brilliant, an amazing read.

Brilliant, an amazing read. From start to finish, a real classic, you have to read this book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • mohammad
  • 18-09-2018

must read

an amazing book. Necessary read for anyone serous about global affairs and their academic study