The roots of this fiery polemic by Oriana Fallaci are in an article she was requested to write for an Italian newspaper. Written in white heat after the events of 9/11, the article grew longer and longer; she had to trim it, and afterwards expanded the piece again in order to say everything she wanted to get off her chest. In her own words, she was trying to open the eyes of those who do not want to see, unplug the ears of those who do not want to hear and ignite the thoughts of those who refuse to think.
In her introductory dedication, Fallaci explains that the English text is her own translation and there may be oddities in the style and vocabulary, but that she wanted it to be like that because she wishes to retain complete responsibility for every word and comma of what she has to say in this book. I found her language quite charming, an Italianate version of English brimming with rage and fury.
In the Preface, she talks about inter alia New York as a place of refuge for Italian expatriates, her family background, the process of writing the newspaper article that eventually evolved into this book and much more besides.
The main text starts out with her feelings right after she saw the attack on the Twin Towers on TV and what followed. She also discusses the various reactions from around the globe, the heroism of the fire-fighters and America’s unity in the face of adversity.
Fallaci really lays into the politically correct, the supporters of multiculturalism and the apologists for terrorism. While not blind to the faults of the West, she vigorously defends western culture, even Christianity, although she claims to be an atheist.
She talks extensively about her travels in the Middle East and relates a humorous incident about the time she interviewed the ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, and a sad encounter with Ali Bhutto, a former Pakistani prime minister. Her outrage at the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues is palpable and she gives a moving account of her meeting with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala in 1968.
Fallaci doesn’t mince words as she talks about the growing numbers of culturally non-integrated minorities in her native Italy and the problems arising from that situation. It would appear that she despairs for the future of Europe, lashing out at certain European leaders. She calls the EU a frustrating, disappointing and insignificant financial club – the suicide of Europe.
I think The Rage And The Pride must be the most politically incorrect book that I have ever read. It is brutally honest, emotional and perhaps a bit over the top in one or two places where it might make some readers’ hair stand on end. But it is a great read, one very special woman’s testament to the dangers facing the West, and why our culture is worth preserving.