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On Identity [Paperback]

Amin Maalouf
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

19 Oct 2000

The notion of identity - personal, religious, ethnic or national - is one that has given rise to heated passions and crimes throughout the history of mankind. What it is that makes each one of us unique and dissimilar to any other individual has been one of the fundamental questions of philosophy from Socrates to Freud.

In this important series of reflections, the author, a Lebanese who now lives in France, where he is a well-known writer and commentator, considers how we define ourselves and how identity is understood in the world's different cultures.

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On Identity + In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong
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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (19 Oct 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860467296
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860467295
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 362,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"His observation of human nature in all its facets is wonderfully accurate" (David Robson Sunday Telegraph)

"His is a voice which Europe cannot afford to ignore" (Claire Messud Guardian)

"This book sets out quite simply what is required of civilisation in the third millennium" (Le Monde)

Book Description

A profoundly intelligent book about identity: how the individual defines it and how different cultures perceive and construct it.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
I enjoyed Maalouf's book very much, it is nicely written and well translated. Being a Lebanese immigrant who lived in Europe at much earlier age than Maalouf did, I have especially enjoyed his book. However, this doesn't mean that I always agreed with him. For instance he seems to equate modernity with westernism, and moreover to assume that there is one thing as such called 'the west'. There is a common dominator called 'western democracy' but nothing such as a 'western society'. The Dutch and the Italians have little in common more than say Italians and Lebanese. Also, Maalouf devotes more than necessary a chunck of his book to Europe's relationship with Islam. The book is about identity in general and not the European-Islamic relationship. This gave the book a Euro-centric position rather than a universal one. Perhaps this was Maalouf's intention, but the title did not reflect this and it takes you by surprise. The book would have benefited greately from the Japanese and East Asian experiece where modernity was achieved with a minimum of "westernization". Overall though it is a very nice book and very right in most of its messages.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buyers Warning!!!! 30 Dec 2009
This is an excellent book, well written and important. BUT DON'T buy it as well as the other book called 'Identity And the n..... (can't remember the full title)' which Amazon are you suggesting you buy with it because it is the SAME BOOK!!!! only, I presume, one is the American version , the other the English.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Just finished this book. It expresses thoughts I have been starting to put together about the human condition and the background for all the conflicts we are now seeing develop and grow.
Maalouf looks from above, not getting dragged down into details of conflicts but seeing through to their essence. He shows his optimism and verve for life and the 'human adventure' and does not just analyse the situations and the problem human nature causes, but suggests paths towards solutions. Totally inspiring, light in its style , and short. It is the overview which comes from a background where identity is paramount, and a lifetime of looking, observing, researching, reading, listening and learning the human condition.
Totally inspiring and light in its style, you couldn't have a better book about identity. A fantastic basis for seeing seeing those currents in our lives and in our world and thinking further on them..It isn't even remotely about anything sacred and secret! Rather our very unsecret attributes! Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful insight 3 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A great insightful book by a very intelligent author. It helped me understand the reactions of my own nation, and made me see politics from a very different perspective. Highly recommended
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I read 18 Jan 2013
By Tarek
This is one of the best books I read. It is about how we tend to put people inside boxes and limit them to just one identity and deal with them based on it, wheres, if we start seeing them as mixtures of cultures and identities, we might be more toleran and less violent and racists. I liked to the extent that I was reading it on a plane, and when I finished it, I gave it to the passenger next to me and asked her to give it to someone else after she finishes it, to make more people read it.
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