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Flight of the Intellectuals, The Hardcover – 12 Aug 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: MELVILLE HOUSE PUBLISHING (12 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933633514
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933633510
  • Product Dimensions: 12.1 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 526,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"An intellectual thriller in the form of a polemic, with Inspector Berman hunting for clues... Maybe Berman's book will start intellectuals talking, and not just about each other. Maybe some of the previously silent will begin to speak out against the death squads rather than snark about their victims and targets."
--Ron Rosenbaum, Slate
"Fascinating... This bracing and volatile book is an important one and devastating in its conclusions."
--Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"Paul Berman is, just like me and I think many others, surprised--and that's an understatement--that some liberals choose to defend ideas that are very illiberal and choose to look away from practices that are even more illiberal. Why are they excusing radical Islam? That fascinates Berman and it also fascinates me, what the presence of Islam does to the liberal psyche in the West."
--Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Maclean's
"It has been quite astonishing to see how far and how fast there has been a capitulation to the believable threat of violence.... I join with Paul Berman in expressing utter astonishment at this phenomenon, or rather at the way that it is not a phenomenon."
--Christopher Hitchens

"Berman... has a fair claim to being regarded as the Benda of our time. In The Flight of the Intellectuals he continues his work of redeeming the good name of intellectuals by exposing the corrupt among them."
--Anthony Julius, New York Times Book Review

"How do you distinguish a jihadist from a 'moderate' Muslim? Paul Berman's Flight of the Intellectuals brilliantly dissects the moral confusion and cowardice that contrives to sway some brave men and women. Must reading for our times."
--Harold Evans, Daily Beast

"Brilliant, uncompromising."
--Michael Young, Slate
Praise for Paul Berman

"One of our most gifted essayists, a deeply pensive writer with a lyrical talent for imaginative synthesis."
--The Boston Globe

"One of America's best exponents of recent intellectual history."
--The Economist

About the Author

Paul Berman is the author of A Tale of Two Utopias, The New York Times bestseller Terror and Liberalism, and Power and the Idealists. He writes for The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review, and The New York Times Magazine.

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My first encounter with Berman's writing - belatedly. An excellent summary of the problem at hand. Unlike many, more cartoonist versions on this subject, Berman not only shows an engagement to the first principles of liberalism - plurality, freedom of expression, individual rights - but also a commendable engagement with intellectual currents in the Muslim world, both liberal and Islamist. Recommended.
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Why does the Left defend Nazi-inspired Islamists? What are the links between Nazism and Islamism? These questions are answered thoroughly and forensically in this sometimes slow, but important book
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can't praise this too much. Although I have read Berman before and found him quite wonderful, this really took my breath away. I read it as one might read a thrilling novel. Although I am professionally familiar with most of the currents Berman discusses, I found this essay quite packed with observations and fresh angles. His dissection of Tariq Ramadan, that arch hypocrite of our times, is forensic. The book is worth reading for that alone. So too, his reading of Hasan al-Banna', Ramadan's grandfather. His analysis of the whole Islamist movement is compelling, as is his strongly-argued defence of the Somali reformer Ayaan Hirsi Ali. He is so well read in English and French that he finds pathways into his subject I had never come across in years of experience.

If you have glanced at the book here because of its title and been disappointed because so much of its subject matter concerns Islam and Islamism, pluck up a little courage and think again. This is, above all, a most pertinent discussion of the way in which modern intellectuals in Europe, almost all of them from the Left, have abandoned principle and betrayed the achievements of the Enlightenment. For that reason this is a haunting book. If you don't read it, you will lose something very precious. I haven't read anything quite like it since I first read Karl Popper.
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Paul Berman, "Flight of the Intellectuals" (2010)
In earlier books, Paul Berman has made critical analyses of the new left of 68 ("Power and the Idealists") and political Islam and its connections to fascism and communism ("Terror and Liberalism"). These books are brilliant In his latest book, "Flight of the Intellectuals", he returns to the phenomenon of Islam.

The book starts (chapter 1) with observations on the muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan, by many in he West regarded as a moderate muslim defending universal values. A bridge between the West and Islam, a champion of European Islam. But Berman doesn't trust Ramadans views of the history of Islam, especially the history of the connections between political Islam and nazism (chapter 2-5). Ramadans granddad, Hassan al-Banna, founded the Muslim Brotherhood. Berman uses recent research to describe how the nazis planned to fuse nazi ideology with Islam, and how persons like the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem became useful in this. Together with the nazis, the Mufti campaigned against the jews and "zionism", and Hitler was an admired ally. Because of this, anti-semitism in its most weird forms spread throughout the Middle East. After the 2nd world war, al Banna used his influence to get the Mufti released from prison in France, and he returned as a hero. Berman shows how while the rest of the world became anti-fascist/anti-nazist and condemned anti-semitism, this was not the case in the Middle East. Instead, conspiracy theories about the Holocaust, Israel and nazism won ground. A problem that is enormous today.

So, after 100 pages of history about the nazi-Islam connection, Berman returns to Tariq Ramadan and the question "What does he stand for?" (p 127).
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Masterful. Dissects all those the deserve it.
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