In this book, Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit show that the idea of 'the West' in the minds of its self-proclaimed enemies is still largely unexamined and woefully misunderstood. Occidentalism is their groundbreaking investigation of the demonizing fantasies and stereotypes about the Western world that fuel such murderous hatred in others. 'Radical Islam' is generally perceived as a purely Islamic phenomenon, but Buruma and Margalit show that groups like al-Qaeda share key traits with revolutionary movements going back to the early nineteenth century. The same prejudices appear again and again: the soulless Western city-dweller, the sterile Western mind, the machine society, controlled from the centre - often by Jews - pulling the hidden levers of power, like some demonic Wizard of Oz. The anti-Western virus has spread to the Islamic world for a number of reasons, but it is not an exclusively Islamic issue. A work of extraordinary range and erudition, Occidentalism will permanently enlarge our understanding of the world in which we live.
Ian Buruma is currently Luce Professor at Bard College, New York. His previous books include God's Dust, Behind the Mask, The Missionary and the Libertine, Playing the Game, The Wages of Guilt, Anglomania and Bad Elements. Avishal Margalit is Schulman Professor of Philosophy at the Centre for Rationality at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His previous books include Idolatry, The Decent Society, Views and Reviews, and The Ethics of Memory.