Professor Said's implied apology for Saddam Hussein vitiated everything he praised in reviewing "A History of the Arab Peoples." His obvious political bias was present throughout and began with his bemoaning what he sees as the American attempt "in effect to destroy Iraq as a modern Arab nation." If he believes Saddam Hussein has created a modern Arab nation, then he must regret the silly opposition Hitler ran into when he was attempting to build his modern German nation on a startlingly similar pile of corpses.
Furthermore, Said's swooning cultural nostalgia for Baghdad's Abbasid days of glory is touching, but when combined with his condemnation of America's present "assault" on its resting place, his sense of outrage smacks of the "Orientalism" he says "A History" debunks.
It would have been more to the point had he decried the depths to which the Abbasid legacy had been dragged by a bloody megalomaniac who says his society can unflinchingly sacrifice 10,000 men while he bets those soft, sentimental Americans will have trouble losing that many American lives. Swoon over that glorious notion, Prof. Said.