Four out of ten Americans say they dislike Muslims, according to a Gallup poll. “Muslims,” a blogger wrote on the Web site Free Republic, “don’t belong in America.” In a lively, funny, and revealing riposte to these sentiments, journalist Jonathan Curiel offers a fascinating tour through the little-known Islamic past, and present, of American culture.
From highbrow to pop, from lighthearted to profound, Al’ America reveals the Islamic and Arab influences before our eyes, under our noses, and ringing in our ears. Curiel demonstrates that many of America’s most celebrated places—including the Alamo in San Antonio, the French Quarter of New Orleans, and the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina—retain vestiges of Arab and Islamic culture. Likewise, some of America’s most recognizable music—the Delta Blues, the surf sounds of Dick Dale, the rock and psychedelia of Jim Morrison and the Doors—is indebted to Arab music. And some of America’s leading historical figures, from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Elvis Presley, relied on Arab or Muslim culture for intellectual sustenance.
Part travelogue, part cultural history, Al’ America confirms a continuous pattern of give-and-take between America and the Arab Muslim world.
|Publisher:||New Press, The|
|Product dimensions:||8.44(w) x 5.78(h) x 0.91(d)|
About the Author
Jonathan Curiel is a journalist in San Francisco and the author of Al’ America: Travels Through America’s Arab and Islamic Roots (The New Press). As a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle, he has had his journalism on Arabs and Muslims honored by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He has taught as a Fulbright scholar at Pakistan’s Punjab University and researched the history of Islamic architecture as a Thomason Reuters Foundation Research Fellow at England’s Oxford University. He lives in San Francisco, California.
Table of Contents
Preface: The Irony of 9/11 xi
1 The Seeds of Islam in America: From Columbus to the Alamo 1
2 Slavery and Islam: The Roots of American Blues Music 18
3 Emerson and Persian Poetry: The Transcendentalists Find Their Reflection in Southern Iran 37
4 P.T Barnum and the Taj Mahal: The Spread of Muslim Art from One Continent to Another 55
5 Language and Names: The Arabic Origins of "Giraffe" and "Coffee"-and What About "Mecca, U.S.A."? 67
6 Arabs and the Ice-Cream Cone: The Joy of Eating (and Drinking), from Damascus to St. Louis, Missouri 81
7 The Height of Orientalism: When U.S. Presidents Donned Fezzes and Said "Salaam Aleikum" 92
8 The Lasting Appeal of The Arabian Nights and the Bearded Mullah from Turkey 105
9 The Trippy Sounds of the '60s: How Dick Dale, The Doors, and Even Dylan Swayed to Arab Music 119
10 East Meets West in Memphis: Elvis and the Poet from Lebanon 131
11 Islam and the World Trade Center: Minoru Yamasaki Plants a Dream for Peace in New York 145
12 Fashion, Tattoos, and Arabic Calligraphy: The Nexus of Style, Design, and Angelina Jolie 159
13 Arabs and Muslims in the United States: Today and Tomorrow 172