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The Politics of Dispossession: The Struggle for Palestinian Self-Determination, 1969-1994

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Ever since the appearance of his groundbreaking The Question of Palestine, Edward Said has been America's most outspoken advocate for Palestinian self-determination. As these collected essays amply prove, he is also our most intelligent and bracingly heretical writer on affairs involving not only Palestinians but also the Arab and Muslim worlds and their tortuous relations Ever since the appearance of his groundbreaking The Question of Palestine, Edward Said has been America's most outspoken advocate for Palestinian self-determination. As these collected essays amply prove, he is also our most intelligent and bracingly heretical writer on affairs involving not only Palestinians but also the Arab and Muslim worlds and their tortuous relations with the West. In The Politics of Dispossession Said traces his people's struggle for statehood through twenty-five years of exile, from the PLO's bloody 1970 exile from Jordan through the debacle of the Gulf War and the ambiguous 1994 peace accord with Israel. As frank as he is about his personal involvement in that struggle, Said is equally unsparing in his demolition of Arab icons and American shibboleths. Stylish, impassioned, and informed by a magisterial knowledge of history and literature, The Politics of Dispossession is a masterly synthesis of scholarship and polemic that has the power to redefine the debate over the Middle East.


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Ever since the appearance of his groundbreaking The Question of Palestine, Edward Said has been America's most outspoken advocate for Palestinian self-determination. As these collected essays amply prove, he is also our most intelligent and bracingly heretical writer on affairs involving not only Palestinians but also the Arab and Muslim worlds and their tortuous relations Ever since the appearance of his groundbreaking The Question of Palestine, Edward Said has been America's most outspoken advocate for Palestinian self-determination. As these collected essays amply prove, he is also our most intelligent and bracingly heretical writer on affairs involving not only Palestinians but also the Arab and Muslim worlds and their tortuous relations with the West. In The Politics of Dispossession Said traces his people's struggle for statehood through twenty-five years of exile, from the PLO's bloody 1970 exile from Jordan through the debacle of the Gulf War and the ambiguous 1994 peace accord with Israel. As frank as he is about his personal involvement in that struggle, Said is equally unsparing in his demolition of Arab icons and American shibboleths. Stylish, impassioned, and informed by a magisterial knowledge of history and literature, The Politics of Dispossession is a masterly synthesis of scholarship and polemic that has the power to redefine the debate over the Middle East.

30 review for The Politics of Dispossession: The Struggle for Palestinian Self-Determination, 1969-1994

  1. 4 out of 5

    'Izzat Radzi

    Maybe—so far—had become my all time best. Such a fulfilling as well as engaging read. Fulfilling because of the pleasure obtained not just from the discourse, but also the beauty of language used and the well-put reasoning. Engaging because I was writing notes here and there (I read it in chronology of time published instead of usual front-to-back page manner) then found later Said was referring to this book and that author. It was as if one were having direct conversation with the author. Longer, Maybe—so far—had become my all time best. Such a fulfilling as well as engaging read. Fulfilling because of the pleasure obtained not just from the discourse, but also the beauty of language used and the well-put reasoning. Engaging because I was writing notes here and there (I read it in chronology of time published instead of usual front-to-back page manner) then found later Said was referring to this book and that author. It was as if one were having direct conversation with the author. Longer, more comprehensive review later.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Robert Wechsler

    A collection of essays divided into three parts. I read the first and third parts, with a focus on the first: Palestine and Palestinians. I found it valuable to see the history of Israeli-Palestinian and U.S.-Palestinian relations from a Palestinian-American’s point of view, especially one that sympathizes with Palestinians, but is sometimes critical of its leaders. Although the book is 15 years old, things haven’t changed significantly since then, except for Gaza. The book is well-written and v A collection of essays divided into three parts. I read the first and third parts, with a focus on the first: Palestine and Palestinians. I found it valuable to see the history of Israeli-Palestinian and U.S.-Palestinian relations from a Palestinian-American’s point of view, especially one that sympathizes with Palestinians, but is sometimes critical of its leaders. Although the book is 15 years old, things haven’t changed significantly since then, except for Gaza. The book is well-written and very skimmable.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Vistasp Hodiwala

    Israel: An intolerably immoral existence. If there is any cause in this whole wide world where the obvious, glaring injustice of it all has been summarily ignored and dismissed by most of the world's leading intellectuals, it is the cause of the Palestinian freedom movement. Said's (pronounced Sayid)--a Palestinian Arab of Christian descent--was that rare voice which informed the world of the Zionist duplicity, in a way that laid bare the untold sufferings of over 4 million of its inhabitants in Israel: An intolerably immoral existence. If there is any cause in this whole wide world where the obvious, glaring injustice of it all has been summarily ignored and dismissed by most of the world's leading intellectuals, it is the cause of the Palestinian freedom movement. Said's (pronounced Sayid)--a Palestinian Arab of Christian descent--was that rare voice which informed the world of the Zionist duplicity, in a way that laid bare the untold sufferings of over 4 million of its inhabitants in the most lucid manner possible. For over three decades, Said's was a lone cry in the New Yorkian wilderness, which drew attention to the State of Israel's Ocean liner of lies ever since (and even before) it came into existence. Said's pain and melancholy comes through, etched in every page of this book and makes for frightful reading. Given the supposed openness of the media in democratic nation-states, it's shocking how through over 5 decades, the combined might of Zionism's religious fanaticism, the traditional incompetence of ruling monarchies in the Arab world, the West's moral ambivalence to call the Israeli spade a bloody shovel and the Zionist lobby in Washington have been able to keep an entire nation of millions in a sort of permanent exile. This book neatly divided in 3 parts critiques everything that is wrong and tragic about the Palestinian movement with merciless felicity and attention to detail that a proper understanding of this cause deserves. Of course, he is severe (and justifiably so) on Israel, but it is his attacks on the rest of the Arab world and the dishonest intellectuals of the western world that makes for fascinating reading. Truly, an intellectual like Said, rarely ever loses his relevance or goes out of fashion. This book is a priceless gem, to be read and re-read by anyone who wants to move beyond standard middle-east explanations, terrorism clichés and the rhetoric of "with us or against us".

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    I want to be an informed supporter of global political empowerment for oppressed people. As a Jewish American, I have been taught to support Israel and hope that I too will celebrate there someday. But I can't. I can't because displacing another oppressed people in the name of religion doesn't fly. This book is an excellent historical and theoretical look review of the Palestinian struggle, and Israel's blood-stained hands.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Dows

    So, so thick. Read this when you have mindspace to dedicate to extremely complex concepts.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Yonis Gure

    These searing essays are pure gold. In this collection, Edward Said looks at the palestinian struggle for statehood and self-determination, and how it's been negated by U.S/Israeli policy. I very much appreciated how Edward Said unloaded upon Thomas Friedman's Book 'From Beirut to Jerusalem' in one of the later essays. To think, I was going to buy that book. If I could quarrel with one thing, it would be Edwards tendency to self-pity, which leads him to express a high sense of injury and victimh These searing essays are pure gold. In this collection, Edward Said looks at the palestinian struggle for statehood and self-determination, and how it's been negated by U.S/Israeli policy. I very much appreciated how Edward Said unloaded upon Thomas Friedman's Book 'From Beirut to Jerusalem' in one of the later essays. To think, I was going to buy that book. If I could quarrel with one thing, it would be Edwards tendency to self-pity, which leads him to express a high sense of injury and victimhood that got annoying at times. I'm referring to certain passages in the midsection of this collection. But all in all, marvellous work from a man who I greatly admire.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Reenie

    It's dense, but it's well worth perservering. The rule of thumb I've come to apply to Edward Said's writing is that the later it was written, the easier it is to read. The essays written before about 1975 can be quite a struggle to pull apart, just because of the sentence construction, but by the mid-80s it's all quite readable, and much the better for being more direct. Reading Said's amazing work is an essential part of understanding the central problems and challenges of the Middle East, and u It's dense, but it's well worth perservering. The rule of thumb I've come to apply to Edward Said's writing is that the later it was written, the easier it is to read. The essays written before about 1975 can be quite a struggle to pull apart, just because of the sentence construction, but by the mid-80s it's all quite readable, and much the better for being more direct. Reading Said's amazing work is an essential part of understanding the central problems and challenges of the Middle East, and unfortunately it's a perspective of which too few people seem to be aware.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tristan Laing

    An anthology of Said's journalistic writing about Palestine from 69 to 94, what do you expect? A good source for analysis and politically relevant Said quotes, but please don't let it be your only source for understanding Palestinian history.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul Burrows

    An important perspective on settler-colonialism, apartheid, dispossession, and exile by the late Edward Said.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    People accused Said of being not political enough! He gave of himself tirelessly.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    the palestinian perspective by said.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rabya

    still need to read this!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Coach B

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tristana

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  16. 4 out of 5

    Zaineb

  17. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Hübner

  18. 5 out of 5

    Irfan Bahadur

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sam toer

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zohra Star

  21. 4 out of 5

    David

  22. 5 out of 5

    Eyad

  23. 4 out of 5

    Robin Ferris

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ausma Khan

  25. 4 out of 5

    Roqayah Chamseddine

  26. 4 out of 5

    Asim Qureshi

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Fadi

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  30. 4 out of 5

    Zainab

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