The Pen and the Sword

Gathered here are five wide-ranging interviews with the internationally renowned Palestinian scholar and critic Edward Said (1935–2003). In conversation with David Barsamian, director of Alternative Radio, these interviews cover a broad range of topics, from Said's groundbreaking work of literary scholarship, Orientalism, to music and popular culture. These conversations span the years 1987–94, a pivotal era in the Palestinian liberation movement during which Said testifies with stunning insight and eloquence to the crimes of the Israeli occupation and the betrayals of the PLO leadership.

Following the 1993 Oslo accords, Said tells Barsamian, “The idea of a collective memory is now rapidly becoming disallowed even by Palestinians. That’s something which I find unacceptable.” From this collection emerges a history that is both haunting—imbued with knowledge of loss and desire for justice for all Palestinians—and urgently needed to understand today’s conflict.

With an introduction by Eqbal Ahmad, and a new preface from Nubar Hovsepian, this is an indispensable introduction to one of the twentieth century's foremost critical intellectuals.

“Throughout his constant and sustained interventions as a public intellectual…Edward insisted that boundaries and barriers must be transgressed. He believed that the intellectual must insist on truth and justice, and give utterance not to mere fashion and passing fads but to real ideas and values, which cannot be articulated from inside a position of power.… For Edward, the real task of the intellectual ‘is to advance human freedom and knowledge.’… Edward was the quintessential oppositional intellectual.”
—From the Preface by Nubar Hovsepian

“Through interviews with the author of Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism, Alternative Radio director David Barsamian provides an accessible, engaging introduction to Said’s thoughts on topics from Jane Austen to Jerusalem. Said is forthright, even blunt, as he demonstrates a thrilling capacity for integrating culture and politics.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“A book of rare quality and importance.” —Dissident Voice

“Edward Said was one of the greatest intellectuals and public activists of our time.” —The Independent

“[Said’s] voice is irreplaceable, but his legacy will endure.” —Tariq Ali, New Left Review

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