The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square

The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square

by Steven A. Cook


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The recent revolution in Egypt has shaken the Arab world to its roots. The most populous Arab country and the historical center of Arab intellectual life, Egypt is a lynchpin of the US's Middle East strategy, receiving more aid than any nation except Israel. This is not the first time that the world and has turned its gaze to Egypt, however. A half century ago, Egypt under Nasser became the putative leader of the Arab world and a beacon for all developing nations. Yet in the decades prior to the 2011 revolution, it was ruled over by a sclerotic regime plagued by nepotism and corruption. During that time, its economy declined into near shambles, a severely overpopulated Cairo fell into disrepair, and it produced scores of violent Islamic extremists such as Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atta.

In this new and updated paperback edition of The Struggle for Egypt, Steven Cook—a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations—explains how this parlous state of affairs came to be, why the revolution occurred, and where Egypt is headed now. A sweeping account of Egypt in the modern era, it incisively chronicles all of the nation's central historical episodes: the decline of British rule, the rise of Nasser and his quest to become a pan-Arab leader, Egypt's decision to make peace with Israel and ally with the United States, the assassination of Sadat, the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood, and—finally—the demonstrations that convulsed Tahrir Square and overthrew an entrenched regime. And for the paperback edition, Cook has updated the book to include coverage of the recent political events in Egypt, including the election of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi as President.

Throughout Egypt's history, there has been an intense debate to define what Egypt is, what it stands for, and its relation to the world. Egyptians now have an opportunity to finally answer these questions. Doing so in a way that appeals to the vast majority of Egyptians, Cook notes, will be difficult but ultimately necessary if Egypt is to become an economically dynamic and politically vibrant society.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199931774
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 03/01/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 456
Sales rank: 1,014,563
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Steven A. Cook is the Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. A leading expert on Arab and Turkish politics, Cook is the author of Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Introduction: Hassan
Chapter I: Egypt for the Egyptians
Chapter II: The Rise of the Officers
Chapter III: Setback and Revolt
Chapter IV: Hero of the Crossing
Chapter V: A Tale of Two Egypts
Chapter VI: Radar Contact Lost
Chapter VII: Zamalek Lobbies

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Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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. 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
TomMcAndrew More than 1 year ago
Cook has written an excellent review of developments in modern Egypt, particularly since the 1952 revolution. His discussion of the ups and downs in the relationship between the United States and Egypt during this period is especially relevant as the US administration seeks to cope with the new regime in Cairo headed by Mohammed Morsi. Cook presents much food for thought for all who seek to understand the reasons for the difficulties the US has so often encountered in its relations with Cairo.
NomadGorman More than 1 year ago
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. 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