cover image This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror

This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror

Moustafa Bayoumi. New York Univ., $19.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-4798-3564-5

In this initially intriguing but ultimately disappointing collection of essays published between 2001 and 2012, Brooklyn College English professor Bayoumi (How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?) addresses Muslim-American life from four angles: history, theory, politics, and culture. Regarding history, Bayoumi reflects upon African-American Islam and immigration law, from the quotas limiting the number of non–Northern Europeans allowed to emigrate to the U.S., which were only repealed in 1965, to more recent legislation passed during the “war on terror.” For theory, he draws heavily on Orientalism, Edward Said’s classic 1978 study, disparaging the bestselling works of Irshad Manji, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Reza Aslan and judging Efraim Karsh’s The Arab Mind “trash scholarship.” He reports throughout on the surveillance, racialization, and racial profiling of Muslim-Americans and on how the War on Terror is presented in television programs such as 24 and movies such as Zero Dark Thirty. Bayoumi juxtaposes his own experiences (an extra on Sex and the City, his citizenship ceremony, his earlier book) with more general information (early litigation involving immigrants, the use of loud and offensive music in “torture lite,” ideological links between WWII-era internment of Japanese-Americans and War on Terror–era Islamophobia.) Unfortunately, the redundancies inherent in a collection of previously published articles give the book a dull and dated quality, though Bayoumi’s subject matter is certainly neither. [em]Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown. (Sept.) [/em]