The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East

Overview

The renowned blogger and Middle East expert Juan Cole illuminates the role of today’s Arab youth—who they are, what they want, and how they will affect world politics.

Beginning in January 2011, the revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests, riots, and civil wars that comprised what many call “the Arab Spring” shook the world. These upheavals were spearheaded by youth movements, and yet the crucial role they played is relatively ...

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The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East

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Overview

The renowned blogger and Middle East expert Juan Cole illuminates the role of today’s Arab youth—who they are, what they want, and how they will affect world politics.

Beginning in January 2011, the revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests, riots, and civil wars that comprised what many call “the Arab Spring” shook the world. These upheavals were spearheaded by youth movements, and yet the crucial role they played is relatively unknown. Middle East expert Juan Cole is here to share their stories.

For three decades, Cole has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. In The New Arabs he outlines the history that led to the dramatic changes in the region, and explores how a new generation of men and women are using innovative notions of personal rights to challenge the authoritarianism, corruption, and stagnation that had afflicted their societies.

Not all big cohorts of teenagers and twenty-somethings necessarily produce movements centered on their identity as youth, with a generational set of organizations, symbols, and demands rooted at least partially in the distinctive problems besetting people of their age. The Arab Millennials did. And, in a provocative and optimistic argument about the future of the Arab world, The New Arabs shows just how they did it.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 04/14/2014
Young people and their smartphones overthrow dictatorships in this rousing study of the Arab Spring. University of Michigan historian Cole (Engaging the Muslim World) follows the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya from their roots in dissident organizing though the mass protests of 2011, the collapse of repressive regimes, and ensuing political turmoil. He focuses on the leadership of the “millennial” generation of young, urban, secular activists, their horizons broadened by the Internet and satellite TV, their “interactive networks and horizontal organizations” empowered by blogs and YouTube videos that spread ideas and rallied demonstrators. Cole’s exhilarating journalistic narrative of their exploits is enlivened by interviews with participants and his own colorful firsthand accounts of upheavals. His emphasis on youth and technology is sometimes overdone; revolution was for young firebrands as much in 1848 as in 2011, and old-fashioned factors—allegiances of soldiers, the humble paper pamphlet—play as important a role as youthful élan and social media. However, Cole’s deep, nuanced exploration of political and social currents underneath the uprisings shines; he shows Westerners who think the Arab world is divided between corrupt despots and Islamist zealots just how strong and pervasive the tendencies towards liberalism and democracy are. Agent: Robert Barnett, Williams & Connolly. (July)
Library Journal
02/15/2014
A Middle East expert (he's Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan) and a leading blogger, Cole focuses his narrative on today's Arab youth—the ones that got the Arab Spring going, for instance, yet haven't figured as prominently in recent accounts of those events.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-22
A nuanced analysis of the factors leading to revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.Cole (History/Univ. of Michigan; Engaging the Muslim World, 2009, etc.) finds that the uprisings by the people of these three nations against their oppressive rulers share important similarities that contributed to their success—unlike in the doomed scenario in Syria. All had a majority of disaffected, mostly unemployed young people, left-leaning youth living in towns or cities who had absorbed important lessons from the previous generation's anti-American, Leninist, hierarchical ways. Most of the members of "Arab Gen Y" were unmarried, literate and nonreligious; some had worked outside of their countries, and all were intimately savvy about the Internet (chat room and forums) and the ways around their countries' censorship. These young people were able to use the Internet to consolidate lateral alliances of "political breadth and flexibility"—e.g., creating new spaces and blogs to air incidences of police brutality. The Gaza War of 2008-2009 radicalized many youth, while the economic downturn of 2008 forced the "idling" of young workers. Moreover, the prospect of the ruling dynasties establishing "republican monarchies" (grooming sons or sons-in-law for succession) with no true sovereign legitimacy betrayed the 1950s revolutions that had won their countries' independence from imperial powers. With the Internet to open their eyes, writes Cole, "the gap between rhetoric and reality was all the easier for the millennials to see." The youth declared "Kefaya!" (enough), which became the Egyptian rallying cry. In Egypt and Tunisia, the military sided with the popular uprising, while in Libya, the international community stepped in. Cole argues that in these three instances, revolutions met with success due to the fact that they fundamentally altered who controlled the wealth in those countries.An elegant, carefully delineated synthesis of the complicated, intertwined facets of the Arab uprisings.
Library Journal
07/01/2014
There is a new generation in charge—millennials, those born in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Denizens of a highly technological culture, they are primed to incite radical change in the political and social structure of their homelands. It is this cultural phenomenon that Cole (Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, Univ. of Michigan; Engaging the Muslim World) addresses here. The author outlines the progress of Arab revolutions that have taken place since the beginning of Internet culture, illustrating how young people in countries such as Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia have successfully used blogs, social media, and the Internet generally as a platform to organize and facilitate protests, impact political policy, and shed light on government corruption. This book contains a fascinating account of global politics, current events, and the youthful, tech-savvy generation that is sparking a call for true democracy worldwide. VERDICT This well-written and clearly well-researched title is an absorbing and educational read. Engaging writing and a solid fact base make it perfect for global politics enthusiasts, those pursuing academic study, or anyone interested in recent history. [See Prepub Alert, 1/26/14.]—Kathleen Dupré, Edmond, OK
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451690392
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 7/1/2014
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 119,115
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Juan Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He is author of Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon's Egypt. He has been a regular guest on PBS’s News Hour and has also appeared on ABC Nightly News, Nightline, the TODAY show, Charlie Rose, Anderson Cooper 360, Rachel Maddow, the Colbert Report, Democracy Now! Aljazeera America and many others. He has commented extensively on al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Iraq, the politics of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Syria, and Iranian domestic struggles and foreign affairs. He has a regular column on the TruthDig.com. Visit JuanCole.com.
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