cover image Disordered World: Setting a New Course for the Twenty-first Century

Disordered World: Setting a New Course for the Twenty-first Century

Amin Maalouf, trans. from the French by George Miller. Bloomsbury, $24 (288p) ISBN 978-1-60819-584-8

A Lebanese Christian now living in Paris, Maalouf (The Rock of Tanios) writes, "We have embarked on a new century without a compass," and his polemic breezes over a grab bag of topics, from the idea of political legitimacy to Nasser, the catastrophe of the Six-Day War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, immigration to climate change, arguing in every sphere for tolerance, respect for diversity, and democratic values. Focusing most intently on the Arab and Muslim world (the book, published originally in France in 2009, lacks any discussion of the revolutions now underway in the Arab world) and on how identity has replaced ideology in fueling conflict%E2%80%94and its devastating consequences%E2%80%94Maalouf does not reach the poetic or philosophic heights of his previous works, though his signature perspective, at once particular and universal, at home in an adopted land and blurring the boundaries between the Self and the Other, shines through. It makes for a startlingly lyrical take on geopolitics: "my approach will rather be that of a nightwatchman in a garden in the small hours after a storm when another more violent storm looms on the horizon." (Oct.)