"In all, it appears that whatever the future holds in store for Egypt, the legacy of Tahrir Square—not the legacy of operation Iraqi Freedom—will provide the beacon of democracy in the region." —James Gelvin
The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford 2012) by James Gelvin is often funny, poignant and fascinating reading, this from a UCLA history professor with a long history of traveling in the MENA. Thorough in answering questions about causes, influences, foreign intervention, history, roles of the army, leadership, economic climate, and finally the effect of each individual uprising, The Arab Uprisings comments on the media's use of the popular title "Arab Spring" and the influence of the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya on the Palestinian-Israeli crisis.
Through his systematic examination of the history of the Arab world, Gelvin develops a methodology in analyzing the uprisings throughout the Middle East that is historically factual and comprehensive. He reports on uprisings and events such as Iraq's Day of Rage, which were left unexamined in the media. He does not fail to include commentary on the United States' approach in dealing with the uprisings and the effects the United States has had with its foreign interventions. The book includes critiques on ethnocentric myths that revamp the idea that the culture and religion of the Middle East prevented the emergence of democratic aspirations in the Arab world, while historically pointing to the colonial forces as influencing the emergence of authoritarian regimes. To examine the uprisings without proper historical analysis and political analysis would be a shame; this book provides both the pre-revolution political climate as well as placing these uprisings in historical context.
The media tends to dismiss many details of the popular revolutions and fails to include proper analysis. A book of this nature has been long overdue; it provides the general public with the hard facts behind the enigmatic region and leaders. Compelling evidence throughout the book dispels myths that have long plagued society; it sparks curiosity and leaves the reader wanting to learn more about the Middle East and what will become of each uprising.
James L. Gelvin is a Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of The Modern Middle East: A History and The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War.
Note from the Editor: Gelvin will present his book at the Levantine Cultural Center on Sunday, August 26, 6:30 pm. More info.
—Katlen Abu Ata