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Arab Spring Dreams: The Next Generation Speaks Out for Freedom and Justice from North Africa to Iran Paperback – May 8 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade (May 8 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230115926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230115927
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #485,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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By Matt G on Feb. 15 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bud, good job there eh, nice one on that one sonny brother man in my van damn good things. Word.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A clear window into the minds of contemporary Middle Eastern youth Aug. 8 2012
By Adib Masumian - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a testament to the unquenchable desire for freer atmospheres across the Middle East. The selected essays reflect strong idealism, but it is not without practicality--having endured more than enough injustice in their short lives, all the young authors seem to reach a tacit consensus that the road to change is fraught with peril and cannot be traversed overnight.

What I found most compelling about the book was the diversity of the featured essayists, which inevitably leads to a wide variety of experiences and tales that need telling. You have Arabs and Persians, Amazighs and black Africans, Sunnis and Baha'is, artists and writers, the faithful and the inquisitive. The muted voice of the gay Arab population is also well-represented in this anthology, and theirs are among the most poignant stories in the collection.

"Arab Spring Dreams" is, indeed, a brilliantly comprehensive sample of the complex social strata that comprise the Middle East and is a clear window into the minds of its contemporary youth.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Quick read, well written, and totally enlightening! June 12 2012
By Ezra - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read this book at my college library - some intelligent librarian had put it in one of the "featured" displays. I thought it was amazing, and I didn't put it down until I'd read it all. Consequently, I didn't finish studying, but that's another story. Read it, now!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Good Read Jan. 19 2013
By Tander - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a good book and provides perspective from the minds of young adults/teenagers. They are short essays, so there is a lot of breadth which is great, but not as much depth because it is just a few pages from each writer. I would recommend it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"the truth is not simply facts: truth is what lies behind the facts" May 13 2013
By Deb Nam-Krane - Published on
Format: Paperback
Don't let the name fool you- the essays in Arab Spring Dreams were written before the Arab Spring began. However, the young writers of these essays are the immediate precursors of the Arab Spring Revolutionaries, and by the end of the book you're going to ask yourself not how the uprisings began in the first place but why they didn't begin much sooner- and in more places.

All of the essays were written by people in the Middle East and North Africa under the age of 30 and were submitted for the "Dream Deferred Essay Contest on Civil Rights in the Middle East", sponsored by the American Islamic Congress (AIC). The contest is the brainchild of Syrian dissident Ammar Abdulhamid, who lamented that young people were given incentives to radicalize for religious extremists, but that young liberals in that region didn't have the same opportunities to organize. This contest is in part a means to open those avenues.

What unites all of the essays is the recognition of the writers that the world they inhabit is cheating them of something that should be theirs. Some of the essays touch on the larger problems: Female Genital Mutilation, Homophobia and institutionalized Sexism. But the ones that I found particularly touching were about the small, daily grievances. Those of us who can drive may think it's annoying but quaint that women in Saudi Arabia aren't allowed to- until we are told that this often means that boys of 11 or 12 become chauffeurs for the women in their family. For those of us who aren't religious, the differences between Sunni and Shia observance may seem at best academic- until we read how those differences becomes the bases for childhood taunts and adult arrests. And while we may say that the cultural prohibition against marrying before you've achieved financial independence has reasonable economic roots, we might rethink that when we hear about a young couple being threatened with an arrest and then blackmailed into a bribe because they were caught cuddling under a tree.

Some of the essays imagine a future in which someone breaks the status quo- whether of a sexual norm or in defiance of the current political regime- and does so openly. The most hopeful essay of the bunch, perhaps, imagines Egypt in 2013, after a revolution has overthrown the oppressive government. This was written before 2011, and while the narrator is grateful for change- particularly the freedoms of the press and the marketplace- he notes the work that continues to need to be done. The hopeful part is that the narrator is willing to do it, however difficult it is.

The essays aren't clever, and most of them are written simply. It would be impossible to read one and not immediately understand the point the author is trying to make. Any one of them should put to rest the myth that people in this region- or in the Muslim religion- are somehow incapable of appreciating or not ready for liberal democracy. The editors discuss that myth and its origins at length at the end of the book. Anyone who has ever argued that an essential, "authentic", monolithic Islamic character will doom freedom in the region to failure should be given a copy of this book. They also point out that our own civil rights struggles were met with "outsider" objections that efforts in the Middle East and North Africa are meeting with now. Both complaints are just as hollow.

The book is not bitter, and at the end the reader is offered both practical solutions to help and a chance to dream. Read up on the civil rights movements in the region; enter the American half of the Dream Deferred Essay Contest and follow relevant organizations and individuals on social media. Do you want to do more? Start a blog, as Jane Novak did for Yemen. Initiate a dictatorship study so the world won't be caught by surprise at the next revolt. Protest at an embassy. Organize a labor rights campaign in the Middle East for migrant workers, a concert in Benghazi for human rights, a book fair in Damascus (when the civil war is over), or an interfaith conference in Mecca. Or whatever else should be done.

It is safe to say that every government in the world- as well as every foreign policy analyst- was caught off-guard by the Arab Spring. Why should one young Tunisian man's indignation at being slapped by a police officer unleash a storm of protest and topple regimes? Because similar things happen every day to too many people in the region. And the analysts were wrong- people don't accept that, however long it goes on. All of them are waiting for an opportunity to end it.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
insight into the psychology of oppression Aug. 8 2012
By Lawrence Alschuler - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No one can fail to be impressed by the sincerity of this book's testimonies that give substance to the depth of suffering of young people living under dictatorships in North Africa and the Middle East. The grouping of the essays into three parts reminds me of Paulo Freire's tri-partite analysis of "conscientisation" according to how an oppressed person names problems of oppression, how one reflects on their causes, and how one acts to eliminate them. This book brings out the psychology of oppression in ways often missed by other books on dictatorship. It gives evidence as to how the oppressed suffer from self-imposed censorship, fear of retribution, and restrictions on the freedom to be oneself. I am struck by the similarities between Arab Spring Dreams and my own Psychopolitics of Liberation which presents testimonies from four oppressed Native people in Guatemala and Canada. Both books provide the reader with insight into the psychology of oppression.
Lawrence Alschuler, Professor of Political Science

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