What to Read on Egypt

As tumultuous events in Egypt unfold at speed, with former President Morsi currently in custody, we present Verso's updated reading list of key titles and articles addressing the challenges facing Egypt and the Middle East.

Seamus Milne considers the current situation in Egypt in the context of the Arab Spring and its historical precedents in the "Spring of Nations" of 1848 in his latest article for the Guardian. His latest book, The Revenge of History, follows the events of the Arab Spring as they unfold, as well as providing a rich geopolitical context for the uprisings.

The Journey to Tahrir: Revolution, Protest, and Social Change in Egypt
Edited by Jeannie Sowers and Chris Toensing

The account of how it all began, this collection of reports from the region details the causes that underpinned the revolution before it amassed in scale. Starting with the eighteen days of protest in the lead up to Mubarak’s resignation, it is a first hand account of the collective dissent of workers, anti-war activists and campaigners for social change.

Soldiers, Spies and Statesmen: Egypt's Road to Revolt
by Hazem Kandil

When the military turned against Mubarak, so too did the revolt, from outbursts of protest to full on revolution. Hazem Kandil challenges the siding of the military with the people, instead documenting the power struggle between the three components of Egypt’s authoritarian regime: the military, the security services, and the political apparatus. Analysing what it means for Egypt to transition from military to police state, Kandil looks toward future revolution.

In an article in the Guardian on the recent events in Egypt, Kandil explains why liberal western critics can't simply say: "I told you so."

You can also read an interview with Kandil in New Left Review on the Egyptian revoution.

Why it’s STILL Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions

By Paul Mason

Paul Mason’s tempered account of global revolution, from Athens to Cairo, Wall Street and Westminster. A blend of historical insight and first person reportage, Mason goes in search of the changes in society, of technology and ways of activism that led so many disenfranchised people onto the streets demanding change. From cyberprotest to culture wars, the events detailed have not been consigned to history, as on-going protest show the sustained need for action. Now fully udpated in the new 2013 edition.

The Year of Dreaming Dangerously
by Slavoj Žižek

Žižek's take on tumultuous 2011, the year showed us glimpses of distorted—sometimes even perverted—fragments of a utopian future lying dormant in the present. The year of the Arab Spring, Žižek's writing epitomises his own unique take on uprising. His engaging observations into the future of the Arab world are original and unique.

Carbon Democracy
by Timothy Mitchell

Conflict in the Middle East is never too far removed from conflicts and disputes over oil. As with the expolitation of the fuel itself, the politics of these oil-based democracies have proved unsustainable. This book not only theorises the future of fuel, but democracy itself.

The Rebirth of History: Times of Riots and Uprisings
by Alain Badiou

Following the Arab Spring, an analysis of how riots move from spontaneous uprisings to historical events with dramatic consequences. Also includes a fascinating discussion of the relationship of localized struggles to the wider discourse of democracy and representation.

Being Arab
by Samir Kassir

A thoughtful analysis of the contemporary Arab identity by the journalist and historian Samir Kassir, who was assassinated by a car bomb in Beirut in 2005. Being Arab calls for a position which rejects both Western intervention in the Middle-East and Islamism.  

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