Review: Massad, Desiring Arabs

September 26, 2007
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Our books are not often reviewed in Jordanian newspapers. In fact, we can’t remember the last time. So it was a treat to see Joseph A. Massad’s new book Desiring Arabs receiving some positive press in Monday’s Jordan Times. Writer Sally Bland praises Massad’s book for its detailed analysis of the influence of Western culture on Middle Eastern sexual mores through a comprehensive survey of Arabic writing from the nineteenth century to the present. Bland writes:

The material reviewed by Massad is amazingly comprehensive, covering a time span of over a century and all major schools of thought from Arab nationalist to Marxist to Islamic. Their writings come in many forms and genres—academic, literary, journalistic and theological—and touch on many subjects related to sexuality, such as heritage, women’s status, health issues and how state policy has dealt with “deviance.”
Like Massad’s two previous books, Desiring Arabs is meticulously researched and documented, using a broad spectrum of Arabic, English and French sources. Touching on so many disciplines as it does, the book inspires—or provokes—a radically new way of looking at human identity, culture and social behaviour, in part based on a more objective assessment of the past.

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