Twenty years ago, the image of burning copies of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses held aloft by thousand-strong mobs of protestors became an internationally familiar symbol of anger and offence. Kenan Malik examines how the Rushdie affair transformed the debate worldwide on multiculturalism, tolerance, and free speech, helped fuel the rise of radical Islam and pointed the way to the horrors of 9/11 and 7/7.
©2009 Kenan Malik (P)2010 Audible Ltd
"A gripping account of how we went from burning books to bombs on buses. The Rushdie Affair has shaped all our lives. This book shows us how." (Hanif Kureishi)
"A thorough and highly readable history of the politics of the Rushdie affair and an important intervention in the current debate on freedom of expression." (Monica Ali)
"In tracing the root-causes for radical Islam, Indian-born academic and journalist Kenan Malik hopes to find some answers in the publication of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses and the subsequent campaign against it. As well as providing an insightful analysis of the "Rushdie Affair", he also tackles difficult questions that concern the way we think about multiculturalism, religious tolerance and freedom of speech." (Good Book Guide)
This is a well-researched, intelligent history of the changing attitudes to race and religion in the UK and the wider world over the last sixty years. Malik clearly describes the series of events, explains their links and significance, and quotes a variety of sources and interviews enabling the listener to understand the many relevant viewpoints.
Although the book is complicated, Malik presents his case clearly and this is not some dry history of names and dates, but an engaging tale to which I enjoyed listening. So enjoyed, in fact, that I now have a shortlist of other quoted books and authors to search out.
My only criticism would be that the narrator, while he did a good job of the many voices and accents, did occasionally stumble over phrases and perhaps could have been allowed to re-record these passages?
"Great book, annoying narration"
No, I would buy the text version and read it. The book itself is excellent so far (I am about half way through), but the narrator uses highly exaggerated and often sarcastic tones, particularly when others are being quoted, which gives the audio book an annoyingly cartoon-ish quality which is entirely out of sync with the subject matter.
Islam and the Myth of Confrontation by Fred Halliday, an excellent work which tears down Huntington's mind numbingly shallow 'clash of civilizations' thesis.
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