Since the death of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1970 there has been no ideology to capture the imagination of the Arab world except Islamic fundamentalism. Any sense of completely secular Arab states ended with him and what we see today happening in the Middle East is a direct result of Western opposition to Nasser's strategies and ideals.

Nasser is a fascinating figure fraught with dilemmas. With the CIA continually trying to ...
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Nasser: The Last Arab

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Since the death of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1970 there has been no ideology to capture the imagination of the Arab world except Islamic fundamentalism. Any sense of completely secular Arab states ended with him and what we see today happening in the Middle East is a direct result of Western opposition to Nasser's strategies and ideals.

Nasser is a fascinating figure fraught with dilemmas. With the CIA continually trying to undermine him, Nasser threw his lot in with the Soviet Union, even though he was fervently anti-Communist. Nasser wanted to build up a military on par with Israel's, but didn't want either the '56 or '67 wars. This was a man who was a dictator, but also a popular leader with an ideology which appealed to most of the Arab people and bound them together. While he was alive, there was a brief chance of actual Arab unity producing common, honest, and incorruptible governments throughout the region.

More than ever, the Arab world is anti-Western and teetering on disaster, and this examination of Nasser's life is tantamount to understanding whether the interests of the West and the Arab world are reconcilable.

Nasser is a definitive and engaging portrait of a man who stood at the center of this continuing clash in the Middle East.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
According to London-based journalist Aburish, his is the 28th biography of Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970). The statistic says much about the appeal of the Egyptian colonel who forced out King Farouk yet failed to modernize an unwilling nation that adored him. Nasser evicted Britain from Suez and funded the Aswan Dam, but, Aburish concedes, could not lead Egypt out of backwardness, corruption and Islamic extremism. This biography has more politics than life in it, and much repetitive and often contradictory history. Once Nasser joins with dissident fellow officers whom he quickly co-opts, the reader learns little more than that he was always a good husband and father, spurned corruption and suffered early on from the heart trouble and diabetes that killed him at 52. Aburish mourns the lost potential of the man he sees as the greatest figure in the region since Saladin, but acknowledges that the inability to delegate authority to anyone not an incompetent and thus likely to unseat him left Nasser unable to achieve real change. The book attempts to explain Nasser's contradictions regarding relations with America (and the CIA), Russia, Israel and his Arab neighbors, but Aburish is unable to persuade even himself. At one point, for example, Nasser's "heir apparent" Zakkaria Mohieddine quarreled with him "and never saw Nasser again," but 15 pages later he is named prime minister "and seldom met his leader alone." Also marred by a propensity for triteness, this biography is unlikely to appeal to readers beyond those who are fixated on Middle Eastern political turmoil. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Gile Gordon, Curtis Brown Edinburgh. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Thoughtful-though sometimes puzzling-biography of the Arab world's "most charismatic leader since the Prophet Mohammed," and the last to command international influence. Gamal Abdel Nasser's death, more than 30 years ago, marked an end to Arab internationalism, an effort to build a pan-Arab polity. In the place of that populist movement, writes London-based Arabist Aburish (A Brutal Friendship, 1998, etc.), stand, on one hand, corrupt dictatorships ("The House of Saud fails to qualify as an institution, unless perpetuating despotism is elevated to an acceptable form of continuity") and, on the other, Islamic fundamentalism. Many readers may question Aburish's view that the West is the cause of this fundamentalism, but there it is: Nasser's "dreams have been hijacked by the Islamic movements the West created to defeat him." One need not accept that odd thesis, though, to profit from Aburish's account of Nasser's rise to power and his concerted efforts, once he got there, to extend the possibilities of an Egyptian-led Arab enlightenment into the dark corners of the Arab world-which included Saudi Arabia and Iraq, whose governments opposed Nasser at every turn. Aburish also traces the origins of Nasser's growing militancy to a conference of nonaligned nations of 1955, in which China's Chou En-Lai, Yugoslavia's Tito, and India's Nehru separately urged him to lessen his reliance on the West and become an independent, neutral force in the region. Nasser did so, Aburish shows, which set him in opposition to France and England (whence the Suez Crisis of the following year), cost him American support, and drew him into the Soviet camp, even though Nasser remained a middle-of-the-roader through andthrough ("Becoming a revolutionary meant throwing caution to the wind, something Nasser the conservative, ardent nationalist never did"). "For an Arab to excel in administration is rare," Aburish remarks in another curious statement. If so, Nasser was all the more exceptional. Agency: Curtis Brown UK
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466856165
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 432
  • File size: 423 KB

Meet the Author

Said K. Aburish was born in the biblical village of Bethany near Jerusalem in 1935. He attended university in the United States and subsequently became a correspondent for Radio Free Europe and The Daily Mail, and a consultant to two Arab governments. Now a freelance journalist and author, his books include Children of Bethany, Cry Palestine, and biographies of Arafat and Saddam Hussein.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Painful Truth 1
1. The Dreamer from Nowhere 7
2. The Encounter with Power 29
3. The Road to Suez 57
4. Give Them Dignity 87
5. The Dark at the End of the Tunnel 123
6. And I Shall Divide Your Araby into Two 155
7. Search for an Honorable Exit 187
8. Leader of the Arabs 221
9. The Politics of Decline 249
10. We Are Defeated 283
Epilogue: "You Live, Abu-Khalid, You Live" 313
Notes 321
Interviews 337
Select Bibliography 339
Index 343
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 18, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    ""The Last Arab"" deserves attention....,

    Nasser died at 52. <BR/>During the last year of his regime he looked a haggard person who walked as though he would faint at any moment. <BR/>In his thirties 'Fear' was never a predominant factor influencing his decisions. <BR/>The people, though, had not been responsive enough to keep pace with Nasser's ambitions for progress and improvement. <BR/>The man was a 'workoholic'- 18 hours per day. <BR/>Nasser was firm (but not a dictator). <BR/>He did not use his 'office' for personal benefits - conflict of interest -neither for him nor for members of his family. <BR/>He's a soldier to the fingertip and, therefore, had a thorough vigilance of the 'politicians', but the dead hand of bureaucracy lingered on. <BR/><BR/>After the 1967 six days war with Israel, Nasser was emotionally devastated. <BR/>It was the feeling of impotence and frustration, that he could do nothing, which made the condition of his health so awful. <BR/><BR/>I believe the author should have elaborated the above points more forcefully.........

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2004

    the definitive biography

    I think these biography of Gamal Abdel Nasser is the definitive Biography of the egyptian President. I think Nasser was one of the most fasinating figures in the 20 th century. The biography sheds new light on the person and the policy of Gamal Abdel Nasser. Since I read the late biography I anderstand the middle east better. I think this is am must for every one who claims interest in the middle east.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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