07/07/2004: Bush's Rasputine?
In the academic world, we don't get to publish our books at academic presses without peer review. When Princeton University Press considered my book, written out of the Egyptian National Archives, on the 19th century Urabi Revolt, the editor sent the manuscript to eminent experts in 19th century Egyptian history. Now, I lived in the Arab world for 6 years, have a degree in Arabic studies from Cairo, and had a Fulbright grant for my research. I spent a year working almost daily in the archives in Cairo. I had an academic position in a major department at a major university. But Princeton University Press did not trust me. They still had the book refereed.
In contrast, the American Enterprise Institute publishes anything Mylroie hands into them, no matter how fantastic. She does not speak Arabic, has never been in any Iraqi archive, and has no standing in the Middle East field. Her books don't have to be refereed, apparently. The poor lay reader who finds her book in Borders has no way of distinguishing it from the trade paperbacks of Princeton University Press. And then the mere fact of the book's existence can become a reference-point in political debate. No university press would have published Mylroie's pablum, because academic researchers would have shot it down for poor evidence and bad reasoning.
You'd think that where people are writing about issues that involve life and death, war and peace in the contemporary world, it would be more important to have the books refereed. Nineteenth century history we could get wrong and survive.
Len on 07.07.04 @ 12:26 PM CST