Al' America (Paperback)

Travels Through America's Arab and Islamic Roots

By Jonathan Curiel

New Press, 9781595584816, 246pp.

Publication Date: November 1, 2009

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (11/1/2008)

List Price: 16.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

December 2008 Indie Next List

“Jonathan Curiel give us an engaging tour through the down-to-earth roots of many aspects of American life, a warm recounting of the personal stores of American individuals and families -- native born, immigrant, and slave -- and how their lives brought Arab and Islamic culture to the United States. A healthy antidote to much prejudice and misinformation.”
— Gary Colliver, Windows on the World-Books & Art, Mariposa, CA
View the List


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.

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.