The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know? by James Gelvin | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know

The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know

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by James L. Gelvin
     
 

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Beginning in December 2010 popular revolt swept through the Middle East, shocking the world and ushering in a period of unprecedented unrest. Protestors took to the streets to demand greater freedom, democracy, human rights, social justice, and regime change. What caused these uprisings? What is their significance? And what are their likely consequences?

In an

Overview

Beginning in December 2010 popular revolt swept through the Middle East, shocking the world and ushering in a period of unprecedented unrest. Protestors took to the streets to demand greater freedom, democracy, human rights, social justice, and regime change. What caused these uprisings? What is their significance? And what are their likely consequences?

In an engaging question-and-answer format, The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know® explores all aspects of the revolutionary protests that have rocked the Middle East. Historian James Gelvin begins with an overview—What sparked the Arab uprisings? Where did the demands for democracy and human rights come from? How appropriate is the phrase "Arab Spring"?—before turning to specific countries around the region. He looks at such topics as the role of youth, labor, and religious groups in Tunisia and Egypt and discusses why the military turned against rulers in both countries. Exploring the uprisings in Libya and Yemen, Gelvin explains why these two states are considered "weak," why that status is important for understanding the upheavals there, and why outside powers intervened in Libya but not in Yemen. Next, Gelvin compares two cases that defied expectations: Algeria, which experts assumed would experience a major upheaval after Egypt's, and Syria, which experts failed to foresee. He then looks at the monarchies of Morocco, Jordan, and the Gulf, exploring the commonalities and differences of protest movements in each. The final chapter discusses the implications of the uprisings. What do they mean for the United States? For Iran? Has al-Qaeda been strengthened or weakened? What effects have the uprisings had on the Israel-Palestine conflict? What conclusions might we draw from the uprisings so far?

For anyone wishing to understand the dramatic events in the Middle East, The Arab Uprisings is the place to turn.

What Everyone Needs to Know® is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A remarkably readable, informative, slim volume...Of particular worth is James Gelvin's ability to show how the protests are interlinked, yet also independent of each other. Brief forays into the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and the current state of al-Qaeda are also illuminating...an excellent primer for the general reader." --Publishers Weekly

"This impressive achievement brings together a vast amount of information in a lucid manner. Highly recommended." --Library Journal

"A solid primer on the Arab Spring...[Gelvin's] background on the Arab world will certainly help non-experts better understand the region...A useful attempt to understand a still-unfolding story." --Kirkus Reviews

"Highly recommended...Gelvin's claim to provide "what everyone needs to know" does not unduly exaggerate the usefulness of the book for students and other nonspecialists. Even specialists in contemporary Arab affairs will benefit in some ways, notably by using it as a model in their own teaching and general writings." --CHOICE

"James Gelvin has throughout his career explained to us the role of popular demonstrations and symbolic action in the modern Middle East. There could be few more expert guides for the public to the remarkable Arab uprisings of 2011. Gelvin avoids easy answers for the hard one, and never prefers simple theory to complex realities." --Juan Cole, Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan

Publishers Weekly
Gelvin, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at the University of California at Los Angeles, has distilled a wide range of information about the revolutionary protests across the Middle East into a remarkably readable, informative, slim volume. Dedicating his work to the "tens of thousands of men, women, and children have faced death on a daily basis to end the nightmare of oppression that all too many outside observers had written off as their destiny," Gelvin (The Modern Middle East: A History) employs a question-and-answer format that follows a logical progression, from "What is the Arab world?" to "When will be able to judge the significance of the Arab uprisings?" Short chapters cover the initial protests in Tunisia and Egypt, giving a clear account of the driving forces that led to the overthrow of those governments; the "weak states" of Yemen and Libya; as well as Algeria, Syria, and the monarchies of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and others. Of particular worth is Gelvin's ability to show how the protests are interlinked, yet also independent of each other. Brief forays into the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and the current state of al-Qaeda are also illuminating. While some may tire of Gelvin's straightforward writing style, the book's orderly presentation of facts makes this an excellent primer for the general reader. (Mar.)
Library Journal
This compact, fact-filled overview provides a regional framework and country-by-country analysis of the widespread reform movements and antigovernment uprisings that swept through the Arab world in 2011. Gelvin (Middle Eastern history, Univ. of California, Los Angeles) explains the specific historic and social context in each country in a regional context, emphasizing the weak political structures, endemic unemployment and corruption, and lag in political participation. He clearly outlines the wide range of events, looking at the eruptions in Tunisia and Egypt, the differences in the politically and socially weak states of Libya and Yemen, the tensions in the "nontraditional monarchies" throughout the region, and the complexity of grassroots opposition and governmental repression in Syria. He makes it clear that al-Qaeda neither stimulated nor benefited from the uprisings, and that the United States has little leverage in influencing internal developments. While he provides a lucid explanation of recent upheavals, he cautions that neither predicting the course of uprisings nor anticipating their evolution is possible. VERDICT This impressive achievement brings together a vast amount of information in a lucid manner. Highly recommended for general and academic libraries as an objective, accurate analysis of the Arab Spring of 2011.—Elizabeth R. Hayford, formerly with Associated Colls. of the Midwest, Evanston, IL
Kirkus Reviews
A solid primer on the Arab Spring. While stressing that it is "still too early to gain the distance from events that historians need to render judgments," Gelvin (Middle Eastern History/UCLA; The Modern Middle East, 2004, etc.) offers insights into the popular uprisings that have swept Tunisia, Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries since late 2010. His background on the Arab world will certainly help non-experts better understand the region. Most of the population consists of Arab-speaking Muslims. While lacking homogeneity, they share a sense of history; live in poor political, economic and social conditions; get news from a vastly expanded Arab-language media, such as the satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera; and generally oppose U.S. activities in the region, especially the invasion of Iraq and support for Israel. States, which control oil and other resources, are the main economic actors. During the Cold War, the U.S. supported strong, authoritarian regimes to hasten regional economic development and prevent the rise of communism. Using a Q&A format (the book is an installment in the publisher's What Everyone Needs to Know series), Gelvin traces the various uprisings, beginning with Tunisia, noting that no one could have predicted the popular protests; that they had no single cause; and that the "true heroes of the uprisings" were the participants, who acted on their own and put their lives on the line. He writes it is not possible to pinpoint where the initial demands for democracy and human rights came from. "Certainly, the claim that the uprisings confirm the historical inevitability of democratic transformation worldwide reflects little more than wishful thinking," he writes. Although Western media often called early protests a "Twitter Revolution," social media only played a role. The region's monarchs uniformly responded to the protests by distributing benefits (cash bonuses, jobs) and making promises for the future. It remains to be seen, writes Gelvin, whether the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt will mean the end of autocracy. A useful attempt to understand a still-unfolding story.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199891757
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
03/06/2012
Series:
What Everyone Needs to Know Series
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

James L. Gelvin is Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of The Modern Middle East: A History and The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War.

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