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Posted November 28, 2013
Read if you want to learn about the evolution of the Egyptian state
The Struggle for Egypt is an in-depth look at how the modern Egyptian state was established. It focuses on the relationship between the regime and the populace. Mr. Cook presents the information in an accessible and engaging manner.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
FYI: The MB is discussed in the book but not extensively. If you're looking for a resource on the MB I recommend "The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement" by Carrie Wickham
Posted June 18, 2012
A Readable, Comprehensive, Compelling, Well Documented History of an Extraordinary Country
January 25, 2011, the news was all about Egypt and the revolution. Multitudes filled Tahiri Square demanding political change and for President Mubarak to step down to make way for democracy and personal freedom. We realized that this development might lead to a better future for Egyptians but it put a hold on our plans to travel there until a later time.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
By early January 2012, parliamentary elections had been held, the first free and open elections in Egypt's long history. News reports suggested that the revolution and transition were proceeding well enough and conditions had stabilized so that visitors could again travel safely. We decided to go.
During our travels we met many Egyptians, visited all of the places on the normal tourist itinerary, observed protests, posters, the opening of the People's Assembly (Parliament), read Al-Ahram Weekly, the English language paper, grieved over the deaths of more than 60 fans at a football (soccer) match, become a bit used to guards carrying kalashnikov machine guns everywhere.
Finally, it was time to leave, to consider all that we had experienced and learned and to write about those experiences.But we needed more information to assemble the mosaic of impressions, conversations, and observations through a better understanding of the history that had eventually driven the Egyptian people to take to the streets in significant numbers to demand regime change and democracy. We discovered 'The Struggle for Egypt' by Steven Cook, which we found to be an excellent book to provide us with the historic context we needed.
The Struggle for Egypt begins with a story about Hassan, a member of the elite wealthy class, whose anger and frustration over the sad state that Egypt had come to before the revolution as well as his ideas about what the future might bring had provided the author with clear insights. Conversations such as this as well as in depth research enabled Cook to narrate and interpret the events of the past hundred and thirty years beginning with the first stirrings of nationalism in the 1880s, through the Free Officers' coup in 1952, the Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak years, to Tahrir Square in January, 2011.
The author argues that Egyptians have never been able to define "what Egypt is, what it stands for, and what its relation to the world is." He explores the role of foreigners, foremost the United States, in this long debate as he narrates the story of the continuing conflicts between the Muslim Brotherhood and the National Democratic Party (NDP), the socialist and nationalist policies and alignment with the USSR during the presidency of Gamal Abdel Nasser. After Nasser's death, during the Presidency of Anwar Sadat, the narrative explores the turn toward free market economics, bridge building with the Brotherhood, the Camp David Accords to make peace with Israel, and ultimately Sadat's assassination.
This opened the door to the presidency of Hosni Mubarak and over thirty years, the deterioration of Egypt's economic and social structures, the absence of the rule of law, the violence of the police, the power of the military, the lack of accountability. Then the events leading up to the revolution are traced and we meet a few of the characters whose names we were reading in Al-Ahram: Omar Suleiman, Mohamed ElBaradei, Gamal Mubarak, Ahmed Shafiq.
Cook has written a readable, comprehensive, compelling, well documented history of an extraordinary country. It well s