A candid narrative of how and why the Arab Spring sparked, then failed, and the truth about America's role in that failure and the subsequent military coup that put Sisi in power--from the Middle East correspondent of the New York Times.In 2011, Egyptians of all sects, ages, and social classes shook off millennia of autocracy, then elected a Muslim Brother as president. The 2013 military coup replaced him with a new strongman, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has cracked down on any dissent or opposition with a degree of ferocity Mubarak never dared. New York Times correspondent David D. Kirkpatrick arrived in Egypt with his family less than six months before the uprising first broke out in 2011, looking for a change from life in Washington, D.C. As revolution and violence engulfed the country, he received an unexpected and immersive education in the Arab world.For centuries, Egypt has set in motion every major trend in politics and culture across the Middle East, from independence and Arab nationalism to Islamic modernism, political Islam, and the jihadist thought that led to Al Qaeda and ISIS. The Arab Spring revolts of 2011 spread from Cairo, and now Americans understandably look with cynical exasperation at the disastrous Egyptian experiment with democracy. They fail to understand the dynamic of the uprising, the hidden story of its failure, and Washington's part in that tragedy. In this candid narrative, Kirkpatrick lives through Cairo's hopeful days and crushing disappointments alongside the diverse population of his new city: the liberal yuppies who first gathered in Tahrir Square; the persecuted Coptic Christians standing guard around Muslims at prayer during the protests; and the women of a grassroots feminism movement that tried to seize its moment. Juxtaposing his on-the-ground experience in Cairo with new reporting on the conflicts within the Obama administration, Kirkpatrick traces how authoritarianism was allowed to reclaim Egypt after thirty months of turmoil.Into the Hands of the Soldiers is a heartbreaking story with a simple message: The failings of decades of autocracy are the reason for the chaos we see today across the Arab world. Because autocracy is the problem, more autocracy is unlikely to provide a durable solution. Egypt, home to one in four Arabs, is always a bellwether. Understanding its recent history is essential to understanding everything taking place across the region today--from the terrorist attacks in the North Sinai and Egypt's new partnership with Israel to the bedlam in Syria and Libya.
Into the Hands of the Soldiers Review
- January 1, 1970MurtazaThe 2011 Egyptian Revolution was probably the most captivating political spectacle of a generation. Seven years later, after watching the revolution rise, try to steady itself and then collapse in the face of a brutal counterrevolution, David Kirkpatrick has written what is perhaps the best history of this period to date. Based on his own on-the-ground reporting as a New York Times correspondent in Egypt as well as access to top officials in D.C. and Cairo, Kirkpatrick has reconstructed the even The 2011 Egyptian Revolution was probably the most captivating political spectacle of a generation. Seven years later, after watching the revolution rise, try to steady itself and then collapse in the face of a brutal counterrevolution, David Kirkpatrick has written what is perhaps the best history of this period to date. Based on his own on-the-ground reporting as a New York Times correspondent in Egypt as well as access to top officials in D.C. and Cairo, Kirkpatrick has reconstructed the events of the revolution and its fraught aftermath. The book tells the story of the street movement as well as the backroom dealings that helped snuff it out. His reporting as a whole helps dispel the cloud of miasma that has settled over Egypt's tragic recent history, which remains unclear and contested to most. On the U.S. side the book provides access to John Kerry, Ben Rhodes and a host of military officials who had dealings with the Egyptians. It is clear above all else that despite some dissensions, the U.S. government absolutely green-lighted the 2013 coup against an elected government that, despite its flaws, had not crossed any line that warranted this extreme step. The U.S. government scarcely blinked in the face of Egypt's return to militaristic fascism, standing by to watch wholesale massacres of unarmed demonstrators, as well as mass torture and disappearances. U.S. officials both implicitly and explicitly cheered Sisi on and continue to do so, providing billions in military aid to his regime. Reading Kirkpatrick's account of what his regime really represents shows how monstrous American policy has been in this regard and how drastically it diverges from its soaring rhetoric.Its clear that the Egyptian military and "deep state" never for a moment intended to hand over real power to any elected government, let alone a Brotherhood one. From the moment that Mubarak fell they did everything they could to divide the revolutionaries, constrain the new government's ability to function and set the stage for their own violent reassertion of power. Under Sisi the police state is now back with a vengeance, annihilating everyone in its path, whether they be Islamists, liberals, leftists, Christians or even nationalists who speak out against the obvious mismanagement and brutality of the regime. Above all his military regime and its Western backers share a paternalistic, neocolonial attitude towards the Egyptian people. Despite their heroic fight for democracy, witnessed by the entire world, the Egyptian military, Washington D.C., and Sisi's Gulf Arab patrons have all worked to make the ultimately racist case that the Egyptian people need to be harshly repressed by military force, as they are unfit to govern themselves. I saw very differently myself during my brief time in Egypt after the revolution, where people were very eager to engage in real grassroots democracy and meaningful free speech, even at the risk of their lives. It was a vibrant contrast to older democracies where most people have long ago tired of civic life, preferring instead to pass their time in entertainment. The fact that Egyptian civilians were killed en masse within a year of elections for making what the world deemed to be the wrong choice it is a sad commentary on the brutalities that the liberal international order is willing to countenance against those it considers the Other. Kirkpatrick tells the story of Egypt's tragedy through the lives of its people from all strata of society, and he does so with a refreshing amount of humility. The book eschews almost all the cliches that tend to color writing on the region, and he is very self-aware about his own perspective as an American with a privileged vantage point on events. He doesn't fall into the trap of portraying any side uncritically, but one thing that comes across clearly is how fundamentally wrong the coup was. It was an act of pure barbarity waged under the banner of enlightenment, and its gruesome apex, the Raba'a Massacre, was the trigger that turned the entire region into a vicious zero-sum game between totalitarian militaries and nihilist-Islamist groups. One imagines how the world would've reacted if it had been the Morsi government that carried out such a massacre.Egypt is perhaps the most important Arab country culturally and politically in the Middle East. The tragedy of its defeated revolution is the story of the region as a whole. If you want to understand how colonialism continues to persist, in ways that, behind the scenes, are every bit as brutal and cynical as they were a century ago, this is the book to read.more
- January 1, 1970Ina Cawlone of the sad truth in this book is that even Islamist who believed in democracy were failed by the West, and it only strengthened ISIS point view that through explicit violence not demonstration that you will able to take control of your countryanother book which made me disillusionedmore
- January 1, 1970EricExcellent! If you want to know what i was like to be in Egypt during the January 25, 2011 Revolution - why the Arab Spring fizzled and why it matters this is the book for you.
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