Posts Tagged ‘book’

King Salman of Saudi Arabia

July 19th, 2012 Comments off
By the way, the appointment of Prince Bandar as head of Saudi intelligence is a sure sign that King `Abdullah is not charge.  `Abdullah hates Bandar (read David Ottaway’s book on Saudi-US relations and the story of the documentary that really pissed off `Abdullah) and the appointment is an indication that Salman (or his sons and other Sudayris) are now in chrage and shuffling the deck quickly.

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Franklin Lamb and anti-Semitism

July 9th, 2012 Comments off
This is classic anti-Semitism by my book:  “Israel’s duel loyalty agents, as well as more fair minded American Jewish voters have historically intimidated and influenced US presidents seeking reelection, especially those in a tight race, with various financial and political threats and rewards.”

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Iran VP says Jewish law book to blame for drugs trade

June 27th, 2012 Comments off

Mohammad Reza Rahimi said the "Talmud teaches that it is lawful to acquire wealth through legal and illegal means"The teachings of the Jewish book of law, the Talmud, are a driving force behind the international drugs trade, Iran's First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said in comments reported on Wednesday.

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New Book: The Journey to Tahrir

May 30th, 2012 Comments off

A new collection of articles about Egypt that appeared in Middle East Report in the last decade or so is now out. It’s edited by Chris Toensing and Jeannie Sowers, and includes a piece by me as well as other blog contributors, friends, and leading Egypt experts (Mona El-Ghobashy, Tim Mitchell, Joel Beinin, etc.). It’s a great way to review late Mubarak Egypt and the January 2011 uprising, as well support the excellent MERIP.

Get your copy now.


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‘The Islamists are Coming’

April 23rd, 2012 Comments off

This one has just come in: the chapters are available for download. I haven’t read any of them yet, but it looks like an interesting project. Not sure about the title, however …Chapters are available to download (might be useful for students on my ‘Muslim Politics’ MA module) ….

About Book | Islamists Are Coming
By Robin Wright "The Islamists are
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Please Don’t Let This Be a Portent

March 6th, 2012 Comments off

Prime Minister  Netanyanu gave President Obama a copy of the Book of Esther after their summit.  Let us hope this is purely because Purim starts Wednesday, and not because by the end of the book, 75,000 Persians have been killed.

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Tabsir Redux: A Candid[e] View of an Honest Turk

January 11th, 2012 Comments off

[One of the great moral tales of the 18th century is Voltaire’s (1759) Candide, a book well worth reading and rereading from time to time. Here is an excerpt from the end of the book, but it is not Orientalism in the Saidian sense of negative portrayal; indeed it is the honest Turk which stands in contrast to tyrants of all stripes.]

During this conversation, news was spread abroad that two viziers of the bench and the mufti had just been strangled at Constantinople, and several of their friends impaled. This catastrophe made a great noise for some hours. Pangloss, Candide, and Martin, as they were returning to the little farm, met with a good-looking old man, who was taking the air at his door, under an alcove formed of the boughs of orange trees. Pangloss, who was as inquisitive as he was disputative, asked him what was the name of the mufti who was lately strangled.

“I cannot tell,” answered the good old man; “I never knew the name of any mufti, or vizier breathing. I am entirely ignorant of the event you speak of; I presume that in general such as are concerned in public affairs sometimes come to a miserable end; and that they deserve it: but I never inquire what is doing at Constantinople; I am contented with sending thither the produce of my garden, which I cultivate with my own hands.”

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Traveling with Ibn Battuta

January 3rd, 2012 Comments off

Tim, left; book, right

The superb travelsmith Tim MacIntosh-Smith has recently published the third volume of his fascinating trip in the footsteps and sailing lanes of the 14th century traveler Ibn Battuta. The book is called Landfalls: On the Edge of Islam with Ibn Battutah and is available in paperback or hardback. If you are looking for new year reading, here is a worthy volume to start with.

Here are some of the accolades:

‘The long-awaited and dazzling conclusion to the Tim Mackintosh-Smith trilogy . . . Again and again, this takes us into fascinating territory: into the company of dervish masters, soothsayers and magicians; towards the old rites of blood sacrifice, with demon ships of the Sea God blazing on the surface of the Indian Ocean; or on a quixotic hunt for a sacred musical instrument possessed by a royal dynasty of African kings. At such times, [Tim and Ibn Battutah] are united in a glow of wonder.’ Barnaby Rogerson, Country Life

‘Landfalls is a beautifully written account of Islamic life and culture in the 21st century . . . [and] a joyous celebration of cultural diversity. Just as Ibn Battutah did 700 years ago, Mackintosh-Smith helps make the alien familiar to his readers.’ Ian Critchley, Sunday Times

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UAE armed forces release book on role in Afghanistan

January 1st, 2012 Comments off

The armed forces of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have released a book on its role in providing security, stability and humanitarian aid in war-torn Afghanistan.
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Best Books on the Middle East, 2011

December 27th, 2011 Comments off

It’s time for the official, Aardvark-certified list of the Best Books on the Middle East for 2011! (See last year’s winners here.) Next year’s list will undoubtedly be dominated by books addressing this year’s uprisings which have transformed the Arab world, but not many significant books on the topic were published in 2011.  That’ll hopefully change on March 27, when my own book The Arab Uprising comes out — don’t worry, it won’t be eligible for the 2012 awards of course! — and, all joking aside, when a number of great journalists and scholars weigh in with books in the pipeline.  In the meantime, you can always go back to Revolution in the Arab World, the eBook based on Foreign Policy articles, which I think remains an outstanding guide to the first few months.

First, the ground rules. The awards are limited to English-language books that were published in calendar year 2011 and which dealt primarily with the contemporary broader Middle East. I read more than 65 books published this year which fit that description, from academic and trade presses alike. The award is entirely subjective, based on what I found impressive or interesting. There’s no committee, no publishers sent me free copies or offered up lucrative swag, and I couldn’t read everything — especially if books were published too late in the year or if publishers insisted on releasing them only as $90 hardcovers. If your book didn’t make the list, however, then you know what do do (hint: you really can’t go wrong by blaming Blake Hounshell).

And with that…the 2011 Aardvark Awards for the Best Books on the Middle East:[[BREAK]]

Book of the Year

Awakening Islam: The Politics of Religious Dissent in Contemporary Saudi Arabia, by Stephane LaCroix (Harvard University Press). Awakening Islam is an astonishingly rich, detailed analysis of the fascinating world of Saudi Islamism. The young French scholar Stephane LaCroix spent significant time in Saudi Arabia, and got deep inside the competing networks that have shaped Saudi Arabia’s distinctive Islamist milieu. He unpacks the role of Muslim Brothers and Salafis and their sometimes-uneasy relationship with the state. He carefully traces the evolution of the Sahwa (Awakening) networks, and how they both carried political dissent and re-structured the pathways of political mobilization. And while he certainly pays attention to militant jihadism and the worldview which helped spawn al-Qaeda, that does not overwhelm his broader analytical mission.  This book is simply an extraordinary accomplishment, and should be required reading for anyone interested in the politics of Islam. Read LaCroix on the Middle East Channel: "Saudi Islamists and the Potential for Protest" (June 2, 2011).

Runner Up

Violence, Non-Violence and the Palestinian National Movement, by Wendy Pearlman (Cambridge University Press). Pearlman has produced a beautifully written, deeply researched, and theoretically sophisticated overview of a century of Palestinian political mobilization. She goes deep inside the political opportunities and obstacles which have shaped Palestinian decisions about violence and non-violent mobilization, with a particularly rich and insightful reading of both of the Intifadas.  Nobody should ever again dare ask "where is the Palestinian Ghandi?" before reading her book.  This is the best kind of scholarship, and deserves a wide readership — which I fear it will not get, unless Cambridge decides to quickly issue it in an affordable paperback version instead of as an absurdly expensive $99 hardcover. Read Pearlman on the Middle East Channel: "A New Palestinian Intifada?" (Oct. 10, 2011).

Honorable Mentions

Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil, by Timothy Mitchell (Verso). Mitchell offers an alternative reading of the political and economic history of the Middle East that offers new interpretations of the impact of the struggle for the control of oil. Carbon Democracy ranges widely over the 20th century, placing oil not only at the center of U.S. foreign policy and the evolution of state structures and popular protest in the Middle East but also at the evolution of the disciplines of economics and political theory. Like many such alternative readings, Mitchell sometimes pushes his argument too far and produces contestable historical interpretations. But Carbon Democracy is a challenging, sophisticated, and important book that undermines expectations in the best kind of intellectual provocation. Read Mitchell on the Middle East Channel…next year!

The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square, by Steven Cook (Oxford University Press). Cook’s timely, well-written history offers the best up to date review of Egypt’s modern political history through the opening months of the revolution that brought down Hosni Mubarak. His account of how the 1952 Egyptian revolution produced the Nasserist authoritarian regime is more relevant today than ever, as is his discussion of the final years of the decaying Mubarak regime — including intriguing new evidence about Gamal Mubarak’s activities.  I’m still just glad that he didn’t go with his editor’s original suggested title, "Why the Mubaraks Will Never Ever Fall No Matter What Even If Martians Attack and Eat the Pyramids." Read Cook on the Middle East Channel: "The Frankenstein of Tahrir Square" (Dec. 19, 2011).

Finally, I found a huge number of books about other regions of the world to be critically important in shaping my thinking about the unfolding events in the Arab world this year. Of those, I’d like to recommend one in particular: The Justice Cascade, by Kathryn Sikkink (Norton). Sikkink, a leading IR scholar and Latin America specialist, details the growth of the norm of human rights prosecutions for regime officials responsible for atrocities against their own people. Whether such a norm can take hold in a changing Arab world strikes me as one of the most interesting and important questions out there — I’m developing an academic research project on it, at any rate, so I hope so!  Sikkink presents an invaluable guide to the possibilities of normative and political change in world politics.

Congratulations to all the winning authors — we hope that the honor and prestige and Aardvark love compensates for the complete absence of any cash prize.

And then, tradition demands…. 

Tradition demands that I also present here my picks for the top hip-hop albums of the year. And so I shall. Top of the list is Watch the Throne, by Jay-Z and Kanye West. I wasn’t blown away by this one at first, especially after the ridiculously high bar set by the first single Otis.  But this adventurous, playful, and surprisingly mature album really grew on me over repeated listenings and after seeing them perform at the Verizon Center in DC. See Jay-Z and Kanye on the Middle East Channel here: Jay-Z’s Hegemony in the Age of Kanye.

Next comes J. Cole’s wonderful, smart debut Cole World: The Sideline Story, which finally brought one of my favorite rappers from the mixtapes to a wider public. Pusha T’s Fear of God II EP was wicked (I think I played the first verse of Trouble on My Mind 17 times in a row at one point). I liked Kendrick Lamar’s Section 80, and Monumental by Pete Rock and Smif n Wessum. I wanted to like the new albums by Wale, Big Sean, Game, the Roots, Talib Kweli and especially Lupe Fiasco but I just didn’t really feel them.   And I really liked the various collections of revolutionary Arab rap that everyone kept sending me this year, and I hope y’all will keep sending them. I’m still bummed that Lauren Bohn managed to track down El General in the south of Tunisia for an FP interview while I had to settle for J.Cole, Jay Z and Kanye.

Thanks for a great 2011, everyone — and get on those great books and great albums which might earn you an Aardvark Award of your own in 2012!

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