The Road to Tahrir Square: Egypt and the United States from the Rise of Nasser to the Fall of Mubarak

The Road to Tahrir Square: Egypt and the United States from the Rise of Nasser to the Fall of Mubarak

by Lloyd C. Gardner
     
 

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When protesters in Egypt began to fill Cairo’s Tahrir Square on January 25th—and refused to leave until their demand that Hosni Mubarak step down was met—the politics of the region changed overnight. And the United States’ long friendship with the man who had ruled under Emergency Law for thirty years came starkly into question.

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Overview

When protesters in Egypt began to fill Cairo’s Tahrir Square on January 25th—and refused to leave until their demand that Hosni Mubarak step down was met—the politics of the region changed overnight. And the United States’ long friendship with the man who had ruled under Emergency Law for thirty years came starkly into question.

From Franklin D. Roosevelt’s brief meeting with King Farouk near the end of World War II to Barack Obama’s Cairo Speech in 2009 and the recent fall of Mubarak—the most significant turning point in American foreign policy since the end of the Cold War—this timely new book answers the urgent question of why Egypt has mattered so much to the United States. The Road to Tahrir Square is the first book to connect past and present, offering readers today an understanding of the events and forces determining American policy in this vitally important region.

Making full use of the available records—including the controversial Wikileaks archive—renowned historian Lloyd C. Gardner shows how the United States has sought to influence Egypt through economic aid, massive military assistance, and CIA manipulations, an effort that has immediate implications for how the current crisis will alter the balance of power in the Middle East. As millions of Americans ponder how the Egyptian revolution will change the face of the region and the world, here is both a fascinating story of past policies and an essential guide to possible futures.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gardner, professor of history at Rutgers (The Long Road to Baghdad), chronicles the U.S. and Egypt’s 20th-century entanglements with concision and clarity. After WWII and the retreat of British colonial influence in the Middle East, American diplomats identified Egypt as a crucial partner in the region. Administration after administration operated from the basic policy principle that “a strong Egypt meant a strong Middle East.” Using the “carrot and stick” approach, the U.S. provided economic aid, military support, and CIA interference to promote stability and pliability in the Egyptian government, while largely ignoring the regime’s repression of the Egyptian people. In workmanlike prose, Gardner describes the U.S.’s involvement in the negotiations over the fragile peace between Egypt and Israel, and tells of Egypt’s role in the “war on terror.” Pointing out the essential contradiction of our promoting a democratic Iraq while supporting Mubarak’s repressive regime, Gardner concludes that the popular revolutions of the Arab spring are the only logical outcome of decades of American doublespeak. The book is a thought-provoking distillation of the convoluted dealings between diplomats and governments that calls for a new tack, in which American actions finally match our rhetoric. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

"When it comes to understanding the tangle of contradictions addling present-day U. S. policy in the Arab world, Lloyd Gardner has become our most astute guide. This compact, timely, and altogether admirable study is his best yet."
—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War

"This book is a clear, concise and insightful account of Egypt’s long decline, focusing on both the mistakes of its own leaders and the ignorant meddling of outside powers. It provides valuable answers to the questions many Americans asked as they watched the recent Egyptian uprising: 'Why is this happening? How did we get here? What does it mean?'"
—Stephen Kinzer, former New York Times correspondent and author of Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq

"[A] thought-provoking distillation of the convoluted dealings between diplomats and governments that calls for a new tack, in which American actions finally match our rhetoric."
Publishers Weekly

Library Journal
Gardner (history, Rutgers Univ.; The Long Road to Baghdad) is a well-known authority on the Middle East. His narrative here portrays Egypt as an essential actor in the region over the past 70 years, taking leading roles at the end of the British Mandate in Palestine and creation of Israel, as well as in several regional conflicts. While the United States was trying to define a new international role for itself at the end of World War II and into the Cold War, it was juggling the existing tensions and rivalries around Egypt. Successive U.S. administrations plied successive Egyptian rulers with both economic and military assistance, trying to develop a stable ally. The recently deposed leader Hosni Mubarak provided that stability for 30 years. VERDICT Gardner's coverage is more in-depth for the earlier years of his focus, i.e., under President Nasser, and, in spite of the title's implication, lighter for the past 15 years, but many titles on U.S.-Egypt relations cover relatively shorter periods (even William J. Burns's Economic Aid and American Policy Toward Egypt, 1955–1981, which is considered relatively comprehensive). Informed readers will find this useful background to current headlines on a topic likely to persist well into the future.—Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York
Kirkus Reviews

Solid account of Egypt's still-developing political transformation and how it has related to the United States.

Gardner (History/Rutgers Univ.; The Long Road to Baghdad: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy from the 1970s to the Present,2010, etc.) has written extensively on the history of the Middle East, especially the time since World War II. Here he brings that experience to bear on the recent developments in Egypt and elsewhere in the region—a series of uprisings dubbed the "Arab Spring." The author examines the international exigencies that have bound proponents of national independence and self-determination in the aftermath of the war, and he situates the downfall of Hosni Mubarak in the context of the paradoxes that American policies placed on the country since the end of the war. Gardner addresses many historical and political threads, including the consequences of the collapse of the British Empire and its replacement by the U.S., which had different priorities during the Cold War, when promotion of radical Islam as a movement against communism was affected also by the need to cooperate with the British over military bases and strategy. For Egypt, this translated into a choice between leading the Arab world, or simply remaining a somewhat inconsequential Nile River Valley country. The author also looks at deeper concerns regarding the transformation of a region whose politics have been based, especially since 1947, on three differing and conflicted allies of the U.S.: Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Gardner ably pursues strategy and context as sources of political constraint and tension, providing a useful overview of Egypt's dealings with the U.S. Pair with Steven A. Cook's The Struggle for Egypt (2011), which provides greater detail on the variegated inputs at the local level.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595587510
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
08/23/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
File size:
0 MB

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