by Kassir, Samir
This is a passionate meditation on the current crisis in Arab identity. “Being Arab” is an essential book about what it means to be alienated from one’s roots, and how to trace back those lines of history. One of Lebanon’s most prominent journalist, Samir Kassir describes the state of Arab malaise in which he finds his generation, and searches to understand how the Arab world arrived at this point of political and intellectual stagnation. Kassir turns to the past, recounting the Arab “golden age,” the extraordinary flowering of cultural expression in the nineteenth century that continued into the twentieth as, from Cairo to Baghdad and from Beirut to Casablanca, painters, poets, musicians, playwrights and novelists came together to create a new, living Arab culture. Investigating the huge impact of modernity on the region, and the shockwaves that turned society upside-down, Kassir suggests that the current crisis in Arab identity lies in the failure to come to terms with modernity and embracing false solutions such as pan-Arabism and fundamentalism. “Being Arab” is a clarion call, urging Arabs to closely examine their own history, to reject Western double standards and Islamism, and to take the future of the region into their own hands.