This book provides a counter-thesis to the famous thesis The Clash of Civilizations. It's a book full of eye-opening arguments and it sure will make you ponder upon many of the current affairs. Buy it. Read it. It's not flawless, but such arguments are needed at a time when most of what you hear and read are fabricated or manufactured.
After several duff post 9/11 books this '06 update of an '02 original represents a modest upturn
The original work (Chapters 1-3) just recycles Huntington, Fukuyama et al (both set up to be shot down; Achcar has co-authored a book with Chomsky) and is just a patchwork of voices evincing no original thought. I enjoyed the little cameos on Bin Laden(p68-9) and Atta(p75-6), though the sources are hardly recondite (al-Jazeera and the Los Angeles Times). The remaining quarter, on the 'civilizing mission' as pretext for invasion, has more narrative drive. I had no idea the Empire-builder Joseph Chamberlain actually said 'You cannot have omelettes without breaking eggs'! And the little bit at the end contrasting the two Roosevelts (Theodore of the 'big stick' and Franklin of the Obama-ish 'Good Neighbor Policy') was illuminating, though one feels the two positions are not actually that far apart
The French perspective intrigues (initially), although the translation sometimes falters; if 'not to speak of' on p95 had been correctly rendered 'not to mention' the sense would have been clearer (I misread it and had to dip into French and out again for the ping! moment) and, while we happily say 'drunk with power', the noun, as in 'drunkenness of hubris', is surely one over the eight
Anyway, compared with the fauxlosophy of The End of Certainty (the author posits mercy as a solution; he deserves none), the psychobabble of Death's Dream Kingdom and the fusty linguistico-political maunderings of Gobbledygook, this modest little tome gets a grudging pat on the back. But none of them amount to more than moral pose-striking - necessary, I s'pose, but quite pointless. If you want to read a nuts 'n bolts GOOD book, get hold of Greece's Odious Debt. It's not by an academic (or, in the case of Gobbledygook, lapsed academic), I'm at page 4 (after 5pp of preface), and it's plainly going to be mesmerising. Whereas this one's going straight down the charity shop. 2.5 stars