Beginning in the late 1970s Edward Said, who had just bust out of scholarly obscurity with his publication of Orientalism, became the target of sharp and pointed criticisms from notable scholars such as Albert Hourani, Malcolm Kerr, Bernard Lewis, and Maxime Rodinson. Despite the strength of their critiques and others lobbed against him, notably by Kanan Makiya in the early 1990s, Said’s standing as a trusted and important voice on Middle Eastern affairs, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, and American foreign policy remained generally untarnished. Throughout his career his popularity increased in reverse proportion to the state of his health that was ravaged by cancer. By 2002, a year before his death, Said was considered a towering figure on the intellectual left whose work was widely read and quite influential. The outpouring of emotion on the days after his death attests to how genuine and widespread this support was. Over the last few years, defenders of Said have been given good reason to revisit their sympathetic views of his work.
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