Award Winning Book Contends that Ignorance and Arab Stereotypes Must Go

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"Culturally Speaking: Promoting Cross-Cultural Awareness in a Post-9/11 World" (, written by Mary Coons, dispels the ignorance that Americans and Bahraini/Gulf Arabs have of each others' cultures and religions. Through interviews with both groups, readers will better understand about Islam and how the Arab culture deeply affects the religion; recognize the commonalities Americans and Arabs share, and learn what Americans and Bahraini Arabs as individuals can do to bridge the cultural gap. Foreword written by former US Ambassador to Bahrain Dr. Sam H. Zakhem.

Americans must realize that Bahrainis shun Islamic radicalism and abhor terrorism, and are as offended by this violent minority as are Americans.

"Culturally Speaking: Promoting Cross-Cultural Awareness in a Post-9/11 World", written by Mary Coons, was recently named as a finalist in the 2008 Best Books Awards, sponsored by USA Book News, in the non-fiction, multi-culture category. Coons' book fits front and center with the news of the day by addressing the significant differences in religion, culture, marriage practices, foreign policy, and Iraq war sentiments shared by Americans and Arabs in the Middle Eastern Gulf country of Bahrain.

Cultural stereotypes and ignorance - not geographical distances - separate countries in this post-9/11 world, believes Coons. The average American is unfamiliar with how the Arab Muslim culture is integrated within its religion; thus, many Americans believe that the Islamic world is America's enemy!

But the Islamic world is not America's enemy. Ignorance is the enemy. And that ignorance spread like wildfire across the Internet running up to the election of Barack Obama.

According to the book, the average Arab Muslim mistakenly assumes American views are controlled by special interest groups opposed to Islam. In short, there is profound ignorance on both sides between what people know to be true and what these individuals choose to believe.

Through a conversational tone with American Christians and Bahraini Arab Muslims, overcoming ignorance is 'Culturally Speaking's' powerful main message. Readers will gain crucial insight into 11 specifically-identified generalizations each group had of the other, which are discussed in detail, along with religious views and cultural practices of this Arab Muslim country that has been home to the U.S. Navy Command's Fifth Fleet for more than 50 years.

'Culturally Speaking' offers a new twist to the tired U.S.-Arab bashing filling today's airwaves and Internet by introducing an open forum of dialogue with average people identifying and promoting the positives in bridging cultural gaps.

"Admitting our ignorance, recognizing and dispelling gross generalizations and, finally, beginning to influence and inspire changed attitudes toward cross-cultural differences among family, friends, and coworkers are the main message points of this book," states Coons. "This does not mean we must always agree with one another's perspective. But we do have a responsibility to respect one another's opinions as part of healthy, intellectual stimulation."

Coons' book does not promote Islam or Christianity, or endorse one country's collective opinion over the other. "Rather, it inspires the reader to discover some of the differing perspectives of real issues, common yet important, to real people," she emphasizes.

"Understanding one another must go beyond the hype and the generalization circulated about the other in the media," explains Dr. Sam H. Zakhem, former U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain, who wrote the book's foreword. "Americans must realize that Bahrainis shun Islamic radicalism and abhor terrorism, and are as offended by this violent minority as are Americans."

Coons, a professional writer, is the owner and president of Pen & Ink Communications, a Minneapolis-based small business specializing in writing family stories/life histories, and business and travel writing. She is the past international editor of the Bahrain Traveler, the official tourism magazine of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

She began visiting Bahrain in December 2005, and was immediately in awe of the Arab culture and people. As a writer, it was natural that she would seek out individuals to understand who they are and how they think. Culturally Speaking is the result of her drive to learn.

Culturally Speaking: Promoting Cross-Cultural Awareness in a Post-9/11 World (ISBN 10: 1-59298-239-5, ISBN 13: 978-1-59298-239-4) by Mary Coons is available through Beaver's Pond Press, Inc. (,, Barnes & Noble online, and Georgetown University's bookstore in Washington, D.C. The book is also sold on the U.S. Navy Base in Bahrain as well as Jashanmal bookstores in the Kingdom.

For more information, visit or contact the author at marycoons (at) usinternet (dot) com.


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