In his book People Like Us, Joris Luyendijk discovers the horrors of the Middle East and the secrets behind being a foreign media correspondent in the area, while having to face the realities and flaws of journalism. Throughout his book, Luyendijk describes and portrays to the audience the busy and hectic life correspondents in the Middle East have to live. Furthermore, the difficulties correspondents are having to find true and honest statements or information which they may use to send back to their agencies. The problem in the Middle East is that, it is impossible for correspondents to find true facts or statistics that they may use for evidence in an article or for proof on television.
Throughout the book, the author is conveying to the audience that a lot of horrible events happen in the Middle East, but what actually happens is explained or reported differently to the rest of the world, stating that the media is actually hardly the truth about what is actually happening. There is no such thing as freedom of press in this region because (due to governmental control) the government is controlling it and the (therefore the news..) news is influenced and manipulated by them, so that it turns out to be in their interest. Luyendijk sees that the truth in the Middle East is very elusive, even with a big effort, it is hard to get to the bottom of things and despite talking to the locals, information is still very unclear. During the course of the book Luyendijk defends the point that the foreign media fails to portray what happens everyday in the Arabic world. He also admits being part of this "scandal" for many years and that foreign media correspondents should admit that they certainly don't know much about the facts in their articles and if the facts he or she has acquired is actually authentic and accurate.
The purpose of the book, as I mentioned before, is to open the eyes of the western population and show them that foreign media coverage in the Middle East proves to be nothing but false and inaccurate claims. Alongside with mentioning the journalistic flaws, Luyendijk introduces his readers to the Arab world, helping us understand it with his personal experiences and anecdotes. With jokes being said and the occurrence of humorous events, demonstrates that the people in the East have a sense of humour just like us, thus contributing to the title of the book "People Like Us." Equally, the book is entertaining for the reader due to this input of humour throughout the book; despite knowing that life conditions in the Middle East are appalling. After finishing the book, it is hard to establish what the book wants to be, although it is entertaining and an eye-opener for people with no experience or knowledge about the Middle East and equally states that you should think critically about the news coverage in this region. This is why the intended audience for this book can stretch from a wide range of readers. Generally, I would say that the readers of this book would be people who have the same character as Joris Luyendijk, adventurous, curious and risk-taking people. But, as well as them, I think the book is aimed at a variety of different readers, whether it be older or younger, male or female, this book can easily adapt to any readers interest.
To persuade the reader that the Middle East is a disastrous, corrupt and delicate region of the world, he sets the tone of his book with this idea in mind. The emotional mood in the book is set by the author to create an internal atmosphere within the readers mind, so that he or she experiences events and feels the frustration of being a foreign correspondent, the way Luyendijk does. Setting this frustrated yet "cool" tone, the author gets this positive reaction from the reader, which persuades the reader to read on and become interested with the Middle Eastern affairs. Style sends a message. Therefore Luyendijk needs to emit his message in a proper manner. His writing is clear and straightforward with no confusions. Sentences are medium length, which proves to be easy to read, and dictated in Germanic language, which makes the writing strong, earthly and honest. This allows the reader to, somehow, connect with Luyendijk and his experiences. Furthermore, the concrete language used, allows the reader to feel a sensation, whether it is a seeing or smelling sensation, which contributes to the effect and sense of reality.
Focusing on the second chapter of People Like Us in detail, we recognize the strong use of rhetorical devices that Luyendijk adopts to write this book. Throughout the whole book, we sense that Luyendijk tries to connect with the readers. It's written in a type of diary form, where Luyendijk shares and clearly explains the different experiences that he encountered throughout his work as a foreign media correspondent in the Middle East. Writing in this "diary form" style, he is able to inform the reader about Arabic culture and life as well as comparing the different Arabic countries such as Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Israel and Jordan. He is comparing the real state of the countries, to the state of the country of which you hear on the news, for example he says "Syria might be thirty times poorer than the Netherlands, but I saw scarcely any vandalism, beggars, aggressive drunks, or homeless people. There was almost no petty crime; I could leave my luggage at a bus stop or archaeological site and pick it up later. People invited me to stay with them; and the pleasant, easy-going atmosphere on the streets was like nothing I'd ever experienced in the Netherlands or elsewhere in the West." Here he is showing the readers that actually what we hear about these countries, especially on the news, is just an "exception to the rule". It is not always dangerous in these countries and what the news tells us has been manipulated in many ways.
In this chapter, Luyendijk mentions that in the Middle East, joking about the neighbouring countries is something that every Arab does. He's trying to show that we, just like the Arabs, like joking about our neighbouring countries, showing us that the Arab mentality is similar to ours. Luyendijk says, "I was struck how much, despite their differences, they seemed like Westerners, and Westerners seemed like them."
Throughout the second chapter we see the devices Luyendijk uses to persuade the reader. With the free use of "You" and "I" makes the reader more relaxed and enters Luyendijks' atmosphere. Quoting the speeches of the people he mentions is another effective way of persuading the reader because they are being "heard" in a way. Equally with lively concrete verbs being used, it becomes more real. His narrative encourages concretion and has a positive effect on the reader. The way in which Luyendijk recalls certain memories throughout the book can become confusing, but altogether it has a positive effect and creates a certain comfort between the reader and Luyendijks life. His use of questions is also very apparent and it allows him to raise issues that the reader may have in mind as well as maintaining interest and attention to the book. Furthermore it can be used to lead a discussion in another direction, creating a new discussion. The last device that Luyendijk uses is emotive similes which are good for creating images of warfare or struggle.
Overall, People Like Us projects a positive atmosphere, due to the rhetoric devices used by Luyendijk. In his book he proves that being a foreign media correspondent is not an easy task, because getting your facts right proves to be very difficult. He manages to persuade the reader about these issues, which will probably change the way he or she critically analyses media coverage in the future.