Al-Jazeera: How Arab TV News Challenged the World by Hugh Miles Abacus, HK$154 Outgoing US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called it 'a vehicle for anti-American propaganda' and the US government, when its soldiers weren't attacking its bureaux, tried to censor it off the US airwaves. Qatar-based Al-Jazeera has, since its launch in 1996, become a key source of information on the Middle East. It has been damned as anti-US, anti-Israel and anti-democracy, even anti-Islam for its 'liberal' view that Muslims should think for themselves. By giving 40-50 million viewers their first exposure to a wider Arabic-speaking world, it is generating debate about how that world can be shaped. 'The door has been opened now and no one can close it,' says Hugh Miles, an Arabist whose father was a diplomat. The author tells how its reporters cultivated contacts in the Arabic-speaking world largely closed to western journalists. He tends to gloss over criticism of Al-Jazeera, which lessens the impact of an otherwise important book. One reviewer noted Al-Jazeera needs now to 'move beyond the juvenile phase' of provocation and raise its standards above Fox News-style confirmation of prejudice and misconception.