Roads to the Arab Uprisings
Book review of "The Journey to Tahrir" eds. Sowers and Toensing and "The Arab Revolts" eds. McMurray and Ufheil-Somers

Wainer, Kit Adam

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/11/2013
Year Published:  2013  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20282

The strength of all the essays in these two collections is that the principal trends the authors analyzed have become critical background to recent events in Egypt and Syria during the summer of 2013, even as the nature of these events continue to shift.



Egypt, the font of modern Arab nationalism and political Islam, is the subject of The Journey to Tahrir. Sowers and Toensing have collected a strong group of essays on the political, cultural and historical backgrounds of the Egyptian revolt of 2011. The Arab Revolts is a regional collection allowing readers to compare the evolution of protest movements in five Arab countries.

Journey to Tahrir is broken into five sections in order to cover the protests of 2011 and the activist, partisan, economic and cultural backgrounds of the Egyptian revolt.


The Arab Revolts [on the other hand] divides its essays into five sections by country: Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. The editors of this exceptionally well-conceptualized collection have chosen writings that complement each other well. Each section begins with the present-day situation, and the subsequent essays describe the historical background of mass protests. At the end of each section is a writing that connects the historical themes back to the modern protest movements.


The Arab uprisings, along with the renewal of mass protest movements in Europe, Turkey and Latin America, offer hope for the emergence of a new generation of activists and revolutionaries. Both collections encapsulate well the recent trends in academic literature on the origins of the Arab Spring, yet avoid the kinds of esoteric debates that may be of little interest to non-specialists. For those who want to understand how and why these mass movements have emerged, these two collections are a good place to start.

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