Rana Kabbani unravels Western fantasies and myths about the East which were woven over the ages. Devised during the Crusades to combat Islam, then confirmed by centuries of Western writers and artists, these myths fostered racial and sexual stereotypes that became vital to imperial designs. In Orientalist travelogues and paintings, the British and the French conceived of an erotic and sinister East, one that they believed to be morally inferior and dangerous, and therefore ripe for colonisation. Such perceptions remain very much apparent today, fuelling the tension between East and West. "Imperial Fictions", now a classic, is an erudite analysis of Europe's fabricated Orient, as expressed in its writings and illustrated in its paintings.