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Hey, Mister, you want dirty book?

Edward Said: The CIA, 30 September 1999

Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War 
by Frances Stonor Saunders.
Granta, 509 pp., £20, July 1999, 1 86207 029 6
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... three falafels. I stopped to pick up one of the little paperback volumes and, leafing through it, said contemptuously: ‘Five piastres for this?’ ‘No,’ came the quick reply, ‘take them all for five piastres.’ I ended up with a copy for half a piastre, and realised when speaking with my father about the publisher, Franklin Publications, that the ...

Unoccupied Territory

Edward Said: A new opening for Palestinians and Israelis, 7 January 1999

... a casino habitué, I tried to find out what exactly he was being trained for. ‘Blackjack’, he said in English – a game I know how to play, unlike poker, baccarat or craps, in which he was next to be instructed. Zabbabdeh struck me as a prosperous place. ‘We have everything here,’ the young man said. ‘Even ...

John McEnroe plus Anyone

Edward Said: Tennis, 1 July 1999

The Right Set: The Faber Book of Tennis 
edited by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.99, June 1999, 0 571 19540 7
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... odd Oedipal outburst from me punctuating his total dominance of his lumbering old dad. Once when I said something about the need occasionally to compliment one’s opponent on a good shot, Wadie, normally a gentle and considerate fellow, dismissed the suggestion as something no coach of his ever taught. The idea was to win as decisively, perhaps as punitively ...

A Road Map to Where?

Edward Said: The Future of the Middle East, 19 June 2003

... outpost settlements’ established since Sharon came to power in March 2001), though nothing is said about removing the others, which account for about 200,000 settlers on the West Bank and Gaza, to say nothing of the 200,000 more in annexed East Jerusalem. Phase Two, described as a transition, is focused rather oddly on the ‘option of creating an ...

‘We’ know who ‘we’ are

Edward Said: Palestine, Iraq and ‘Us’, 17 October 2002

... for a year. By 13 June, Beirut was under siege, even though the Israeli Government had originally said it planned to go no further into Lebanon than the Awali River, 35 km north of the border. Later, it became all too clear that Sharon was trying to kill Yasir Arafat by bombing everything around him. There was a blockade of humanitarian aid; water and ...

How not to get gored

Edward Said, 21 November 1985

The Dangerous Summer 
by Ernest Hemingway.
Hamish Hamilton, 150 pp., £9.95, June 1985, 0 241 11521 3
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... master an alien world, engaging his reader with characters and even bulls, much as Tolstoy, it was said, could make us feel what it is like to be a horse. The massive edifice of Death in the Afternoon stands, like a tower on a rock, on top of Hemingway’s obsession with death. Bullfighting is the art of sustaining, prolonging and containing the encounter with ...

Miami Twice

Edward Said, 10 December 1987

Going to Miami: Exiles, Tourists and Refugees in the New America 
by David Rieff.
Bloomsbury, 230 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 7475 0064 9
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by Joan Didion.
Simon and Schuster, 224 pp., $17.95, October 1987, 0 671 64664 8
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... Bulgaria co-existing somehow on the same continent. There is, as every traveller to America has said, a stratum of monotonous sameness in the country, of regimented, mass-produced uniformity, of a pervasive unchanging pallidness that one associates with the Middle West or the Plains, which communicates the tremendous loneliness and anonymity to be found in ...

Grey Eminence

Edward Said, 5 March 1981

Walter Lippmann and the American Century 
by Ronald Steel.
Bodley Head, 669 pp., £8.95, February 1981, 0 370 30376 8
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... largely WASP Establishment parallels Lippmann’s own. Perhaps, too, there could have been more said about Lippmann’s unpleasantly constricted personal life, and about his second wife, who before Lippmann won her had been married to Hamilton Fish Armstrong, editor of Foreign Affairs, and one of Lippmann’s closest friends, and who quite simply turned ...

Contra Mundum

Edward Said, 9 March 1995

Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century, 1914-1991 
by Eric Hobsbawm.
Joseph, 627 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 7181 3307 2
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... bureaucrats, on average even less educated and qualified than before’. (There isn’t enough said, however, about the disappointment later generated in the same committed people, many of whom were mystified by the sudden cancellation of the whole enterprise and the abject and ugly concession to ‘free market’ doctrines that followed.) Hobsbawm’s ...

At Miss Whitehead’s

Edward Said, 7 July 1994

The Sixties: The Last Journal, 1960-1972 
by Edmund Wilson, edited by Lewis Dabney.
Farrar, Straus, 968 pp., $35, July 1993, 0 374 26554 2
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... that gives his work both its confident knowingness and its unique freshness. Wilson, it should be said, is always making judgments: scepticism and self-irony are not part of his repertoire. He did write poems, plays and novels, but they have always seemed to me neither as interesting nor as satisfying as his essays and historical studies. His own imagination ...
The Romantic Generation 
by Charles Rosen.
HarperCollins, 723 pp., £30, November 1995, 0 00 255627 8
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... a generous amount of mainly instrumental and vocal music at very close range indeed. What must be said immediately is how well, how enviably well, Rosen knows this music, its secrets, its astonishing harmonic and structural innovations, and the problems and pleasures of its performance: he writes not as a musicologist but as an extremely literate pianist (the ...


Edward Said, 7 May 1987

The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey 
by Salman Rushdie.
Picador, 171 pp., £2.95, January 1987, 0 330 29990 5
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Turning the Tide: US Intervention in Central America and the Struggle for Peace 
by Noam Chomsky.
Pluto, 298 pp., £5.95, September 1986, 0 7453 0184 3
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... operations in Pahlavi Iran, and who remains in control of similar operations now, has often said that he could change the regime with a handful of strong men willing to preside over ten thousand deaths), it comes to seem probable that the geo-political opening undertaken by William Casey, McFarlane, North and company was nothing less than an attempted ...

Homage to a Belly-Dancer

Edward Said, 13 September 1990

... a learned woman), spoken of by 19th-century European visitors to the Orient such as Edward Lane and Flaubert. The almeh was a courtesan of sorts, but a woman of significant accomplishments. Dancing was only one of her gifts: others were the ability to sing and recite classical poetry, to discourse wittily, to be sought after for her company by ...

Always on Top

Edward Said: From Birmingham to Jamaica, 20 March 2003

Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830-67 
by Catherine Hall.
Polity, 556 pp., £60, April 2002, 0 7456 1820 0
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... actually trivialise, the suffering and dispossession brought by empire to its victims. More is said now about the modernising advantages the empires brought, and about the security and order they maintained. There is far less tolerance for the disorder and tyranny that people like Nkrumah, Lumumba and Nasser instigated in the name of anti-colonialism. A ...

Goodbye to Mahfouz

Edward Said, 8 December 1988

... Naguib Mahfouz’s achievement as the greatest living Arab novelist and first Arab winner of the Nobel Prize has in small but significant measure now retrospectively vindicated his unmatched regional reputation, and belatedly given him recognition in the West. For of all the major literatures and languages, Arabic is by far the least known and the most grudgingly regarded by Europeans and Americans, a huge irony given that all Arabs regard the immense literary and cultural worth of their language as one of their principal contributions to the world ...

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