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Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance

Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance [Kindle Edition]

Ian Buruma
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

It was an emblematic crime: on a November day in Amsterdam, an angry young Muslim man shot and killed the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, iconic European provocateur, for making a movie with the anti-Islam politician Ayaan Hersi Ali. After shooting van Gogh, Mohammed Bouyeri calmly stood over the body and cut his throat with a curved machete. The murder horrified quiet, complacent Holland - a country that prides itself on being a bastion of tolerance - and sent shock waves around the world. In Murder in Amsterdam, Ian Buruma describes what he found when he returned to his native country to try and make sense of van Gogh's death. The result is Buruma's masterpiece: a brave and rigorous study of conflict in our time, with the intimacy and control of a true-crime page-turner.

About the Author

Ian Buruma is currently Luce Professor at Bard College, New York. His previous books include God's Dust, Behind the Mask, The Missionary and the Libertine, Playing the Game, The Wages of Guilt, Anglomania and Bad Elements.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 485 KB
  • Print Length: 292 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0143112368
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; New edition edition (7 Aug 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #186,768 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By Ms. C. J. Mcelwee VINE VOICE
I think this is a book for anyone who wants to make a serious attempt at understanding the complexities of 21st Century multi-cultural life. Buruma is as non-judgemental as it is possible to be, instead he meets and interviews a number of people from all perspectives of the issue and sets out their feelings. He also sketches in the backgrounds of the key players in the specific incidents that occurred in Amsterdam and led to the murder of Theo Van Gogh.

He allows you at least see some of what lay behind some behaviour. To say what I found, would in some way defeat the object of this book, which is to allow its readers to come to their own stance or at least their own path of understanding. But if there are resolutions to be found, and there are, to the choppy seas of modern multi-cultural co-existence, then books like these are a very good starting point. I know I shall re-read this book with more rigour in the months ahead.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First rate, completely absorbing 6 Nov 2007
By oldhasbeen VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very well-written book that takes the murder of Theo Van Gogh as its starting point for considering wider issues of tolerance and cultural diverity. It's written about the Netherlands but most of what the author says applies is highly relevent to other Western societies with significant Muslim minorities.

The old cliche of a "warts and all" portraint certainly applies to this book. The negative side of affluent Holland is certainly well detailed; the horrors of the largely Moroccan "dish cities" in Holland are vividly portrayed. Theo Van Gogh certainly doen't emerge as a great hero from this book, in fact he seems pretty obnoxious. The Islamic radicals the author interviews are pretty scary, probably rather unbalanced. The author paints a colouful picture of Pim Fortuyn, and provides a persuaive analysis of his appeal.

The author gives no easy answers but certainly makes the reader think. highly recommended.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Before you buy this book, you need to ask yourself just one question: am I interested in how radical Islam effects Europe in general and the Netherlands in particular? If yes, then this will be one of the most interesting books you ever read on the subject. There are very detailed and extremely revealing insights into the characters of the three main figures who have opposed radical Islam in the Netherlands, the people in question being Pim Fortuyn, Theo Van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Indeed, in each case a single event seems to have sparked their political transformation and confrontational stance towards radical Islam. In the case of Fortuyn, it was when a gay bar he was a patron of was attacked by radicalised Moroccan youths. In the case of Van Gogh, it was when he discovered that his uncle had been a resistance fighter executed by the Nazis. For Ali, it was watching a Western film where kissing and cuddling were considered normal.

The book also features interviews with a number of other figures, like a Belgian Muslim who wants to set up an explicitly Islamic political party in Europe, an Iranian Marxist refugee who cannot understand why the Dutch tolerate the radical Islam he fled from and the "foster" parents who took Ali in and taught her Dutch. There is even an interesting analysis of how radical imams may have contributed towards the death of Van Gogh, and how inter-Muslim differences exist in their experience of Dutch society, from Dutch-Turks who integrate very comfortably to Dutch-Morrocans who have more difficulties.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant insight shows few heroes 29 Sep 2013
This book pulls no punches as Buruma unpicks the background to the brutal killing of a provocative Dutch filmmaker by a disaffected Islamic extremist lost in the cultural gap between his parents' traditional life in the Rif mountains of Morocco and the modern laissez-faire Dutch society whose tight religious and cultural limits unraveled in the sixties. Buruam shows how Islamic extremism is often a response of individuals stuck in a society that preaches multiculturalism but does very little to build community cohesion. In their desire to escape from the constraints of the past and the guilt of doing very little to prevent the deportation of Dutch Jews during the Holocaust, naively the Dutch political elite assumed that everybody would reject their past and enter a modern liberal utopia just because the nation's leaders instructed them to do so.

Having encouraged mass immigration to deal with a shortage of people willing to perform low skilled work for low pay, the Dutch government unraveled the social structures that made the Netherlands seen tolerant so long as individuals complied with the social expectations. In this environment, second-generation immigrants seem lost as the push to individualism conflicts with the values of their parents who struggle to adapt to modern Dutch life. The emergence of a confrontational Islamic culture whose values are in sharp contrast to the cultural values of postmodern Netherlands led to conflict that the political classes simply ignored expect when they could encourage fear or criticize fear to garner votes. Surely this could not happen here?

The book is well-written and encourages you to think about a complex issue that defies simple explanation.
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