The New Arabs: How the Wired and Global Youth of the Middle East Is Transforming It

Juan Cole, Author
Juan Cole. Simon & Schuster, $26 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4516-9039-2
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4516-9041-5
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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: Brettne Bloom, Kneerim, Williams & Bloom. (July)
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