The Arab winter


“Suddenly and unpredictably, non-violent mass demonstrations and protests erupted throughout the Arabic-speaking world in the spring of 2011, as large numbers of ordinary Arabs sought to take their political fate into their own hands and shape a better future for themselves. The optimism of their aspirations and the bravery of their efforts met with sympathy and excitement around the globe. For the first time, people in countries across North Africa and the Middle East were acting on their own, wresting control away from repressive governments and the great international powers that had long supported them. Yet as we all know, the electrifying events that began in Tunisia and that swept through Egypt, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere ultimately led to something much darker – except perhaps in the place where they began. Many long-time observers of the Middle East have arrived at a consensus about what happened to the Arab spring: it was doomed

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A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
Why the conventional wisdom about the Arab Spring is wrong

The Arab Spring promised to end dictatorship and bring self-government to people across the Middle East. Yet everywhere except Tunisia it led to either renewed dictatorship, civil war, extremist terror, or all three. In The Arab Winter, Noah Feldman argues that the Arab Spring was nevertheless not an unmitigated failure, much less an inevitable one. Rather, it was a noble, tragic series of events in which, for the first time in recent Middle Eastern history, Arabic-speaking peoples took free, collective political action as they sought to achieve self-determination.

Focusing on the Egyptian revolution and counterrevolution, the Syrian civil war, the rise and fall of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and the Tunisian struggle toward Islamic constitutionalism, Feldman provides an original account of the political consequences of the Arab Spring, including the reaffirmation of pan-Arab identity, the devastation of Arab nationalisms, and the death of political Islam with the collapse of ISIS. He also challenges commentators who say that the Arab Spring was never truly transformative, that Arab popular self-determination was a mirage, and even that Arabs or Muslims are less capable of democracy than other peoples.

Above all, The Arab Winter shows that we must not let the tragic outcome of the Arab Spring disguise its inherent human worth. People whose political lives had been determined from the outside tried, and for a time succeeded, in making politics for themselves. That this did not result in constitutional democracy or a better life for most of those affected doesn’t mean the effort didn’t matter. To the contrary, it matters for history-and it matters for the future.

Additional information

Weight0.274 kg
Dimensions21.59 × 13.97 × 1.7 cm






xxiv, 192




909.097492708312 (edition:23)


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