The Monster in the Mirror

Nine days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush told the U.S. Congress, "Americans are asking, 'Why do they hate us?'" Unlocking the mystery of what motivates Islamic extremists like Osama bin Laden has become the most urgent intellectual challenge of our time. Occidentalism: A Short History of Anti-Westernism (Atlantic Books; 165 pages) is the latest attempt to solve the puzzle of Islamic rage — and it is possibly the most provocative. Its authors, Ian Buruma, a respected commentator on Asian affairs, and Avishai Margalit, a professor of philosophy at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, assert that the ideas inspiring...

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