Is the Muslim world really a seething mass of anti-Western hatred, or is the true situation more complicated than that? In this important and ambitious new work, Mark Levine presents a vivid and compelling picture of the human face behind the veil of the ‘Axis of Evil’ and sets out an alternative roadmap for better relations between the West and the Muslim world. Going beyond the stereotypes and below the media radar, this book explains why, contrary to the popular perception, ‘they’ don’t hate ‘us’ – or at least, not yet.
If media chatter about the "Axis of Evil" seems ubiquitous to the point of losing its meaning, LeVine offers up an alternative "Axis of Empathy" to counteract what he sees as the U.S.'s dangerous "Axis of Arrogance and Ignorance." The author uses his own experiences traveling in the Middle East and North Africa to show readers not only that "they" don't hate "us," but that our concepts of "us" and "them" are invalid and skewed. This sprawling book is divided into three parts, and touches on many diverse subjects that fall under its larger themes of globalization and Middle Eastern attitudes toward the West. LeVine, a professor of Middle Eastern history and a musician who has recorded with musicians as diverse as Mick Jagger and Hassan Hakmoun, clearly has an interest in music and its potential for bridge-building. He includes a chapter on "Rock and Resistance in the Middle East and North Africa" and advocates for what he calls "culture jamming," or bringing people together to "build an alternative to imperialism, occupation, intolerance, and violence." LeVine writes in an engaging, if occasionally wandering, style, and the most effective parts of the book are those in which he recounts his personal experiences. Although aimed at an academic audience, this book will be valuable to anyone wishing to hear a different perspective on the complicated relationship between the U.S. and the Islamic world.