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Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People Is Greater Than the People in Power: A Memoir [Hardcover]

Wael Ghonim

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Book Description

Jan. 17 2012 0547773986 978-0547773988

The revolutions that swept the Middle East in 2011 surprised and captivated the world. Brutal regimes that had been in power for decades were overturned by an irrepressible mass of freedom seekers. Now, one of the figures who emerged during the Egyptian uprising tells the riveting inside story of what happened and shares the keys to unleashing the power of crowds.

Wael Ghonim was a little-known, thirty-year-old Google executive in the summer of 2010 when he anonymously launched a Facebook page to protest the death of one Egyptian man at the hands of security forces. The page’s following expanded quickly and moved from online protests to a nonconfrontational movement.

The youth of Egypt made history: they used social media to schedule a revolution. The call went out to more than a million Egyptians online, and on January 25, 2011, Cairo’s Tahrir Square resounded with calls for change. Yet just as the revolution began in earnest, Ghonim was captured and held for twelve days of brutal interrogation. After he was released, he gave a tearful speech on national television, and the protests grew more intense. Four days later, the president of Egypt was gone.
The lessons Ghonim draws will inspire each of us. He saw the road to Tahrir Square built not by any one person, but by the people. In Revolution 2.0, we can all be heroes.

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A "fast-paced and engrossing new memoir of political awakening...Ghonim’s memoir is a welcome and cleareyed addition to a growing list of volumes that have aimed (but often failed) to meaningfully analyze social media’s impact. It’s a book about social media for people who don’t think they care about social media. It will also serve as a touchstone for future testimonials about a strengthening borderless digital movement that is set to continually disrupt powerful institutions, be they corporate enterprises or political regimes…Ghonim’s writing voice is spare and measured, and marked by the same earnest humility he has displayed in media appearancesHis individual story resonates on two levels: it epitomizes the coming-of-age of a young Middle Eastern generation that has grown up in the digital era, as well as the transformation of an apolitical man from comfortable executive to prominent activist." -- The New York Times Book Review

"A remarkable personal testament that will be cited by future historians of both Facebook and the Arab Spring." -- Kirkus

"Ghonim...brings his broad international perspective and knowledge of technology to this fascinating look at the new face of revolution." -- Booklist

"Revolution 2.0 likely to be required reading for web geeks, media experts, political scientists, advertising executives, activists, anarchists, confidence men, secret policemen, dictators and corporate strategists." -- The Telegraph (UK)

"An articulate account of the author's middle-class upbringing under a draconian regime, and a gripping chronicle of how a fear-frozen society finally topples its oppressors with the help of social media...That the translation reads so smoothly in English is a linguistic feat...It helps that Ghonim is a methodical thinker whose plain and logical approach evokes a thoughtful rather than radical response. He deftly renders the details of his conversations with interrogators and willingly describes personal scenes...A final suspenseful chronicle of how government officials attempted to brainwash and dupe him after his release from prison will be eye-opening for anyone who wonders about the distorted mind-set of Egypt's leaders....It's not surprising that Ghonim's commitment to the cause affected his relationship with his wife and children; it reminds one of our own historical revolutionaries - John and Abigail Adams come to mind - who required a certain obsessive determination that may seem irresponsible to those who live in a democracy." -- The San Francisco Chronicle

"Ghonim doesn't overreach in this deeply personal account. His words ring with an authentic tone...Ghonim avoids sweeping generalizations during those heady and tumultuous days." -- The Los Angeles Times

"A fascinating book...There is an energy in the book and in Ghonim's words that makes one feel it is much too soon to assume the revolution is over, or to underestimate what the rebels achieved." -- The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Deserve[s] to become part of the canon of classic prison literature" -- The Washington Post

"Revolution 2.0
excels in chronicling the roiling tension in the months before the uprising, the careful organization required and the momentum it unleashed. Ghonim … present[s] a manifesto on the capacity of social media to transform a society…Its approach — inherently plural, modern and pragmatic — augurs well for a society on the brink of an uncertain future."

"There's no doubting that his tell-it-like-it-is memoir will be studied by historians for generations to come." -- Bloomberg

About the Author

Wael Ghonim was born in Cairo and grew up in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, earning a degree from Cairo University in 2004 and an MBA from the American University in Cairo in 2007.  He joined Google in 2008, rising to become Head of Marketing for Google Middle East and North Africa.  He is currently on sabbatical from Google to launch an NGO supporting education and technology in Egypt.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  60 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, profound, inspirational and exciting Jan. 22 2012
By Lydia Kagen - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I could not put this down. The amazing thing, the author would describe a certain event, and I could look it up on the Internet and see the actual event on various videos. For example the initial "Silent Stand" protest. The original "We Are Khaled Said" webpages are still online. The book is written like a conversation with a good friend. You are having a beer/coffee with Wael Ghonim, and he is telling you his story. The author makes a complicated event very simple and human, and easy to understand, especially to westerners. Anyone who found themselves even remotely drawn to events in Tahrir will love this book. I have not been this eager to devour a book in long time, I was not disappointed. Thank you, Wael Ghonim.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Egypt Arab Spring Ghonim's Facebook Revolution 2011 Jan. 2 2012
By William Garrison Jr. - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
"Revolution 2.0 -- The power of the people is greater than the people in power: A Memoir" by Wael Ghonim (Jan. 2012). The author was a `Google' website executive who `launched a Facebook page to protest the death of one Egyptian man at the hands of [Egyptian] security forces. His on-line advocacy against Pres. Mubarak's autocratic regime significantly assisted in mobilizing Egyptian youths in driving Mubarak from power. As the author relates in this fast-paced, suspenseful book, he was arrested several times by Egyptian security forces in attempt to coerce him into revealing the names of other protestors and how his internet pro-democracy movement operated. The author noted how, before his arrests, that he coordinated with other website friends and told them how they could change his website passwords if they suspected that he had been arrested, and thereby, foil state security agencies from hacking into his website accounts and learning the names of other pro-democracy advocates. The author details how he was able to use Facebook to coordinate pro-democracy street rallies and share pro-democracy (and anti-authoritarian) tactics with other protestors in other despotic Arab countries. The author circulated (and reprinted in this book) `Protesting Guidelines', `Time and Place of Protests', & `Chants' info online in organizing protests (p. 167-168). The author reprinted numerous emails that he shared with fellow pro-democracy agitators, whether they were fellow Muslims, or even Christians, who shared dreams for political democracy. This book ends with the fall of Pres. Mubarak. There is no discussion of the potential impact of pro-sharia Muslim Brotherhood should this fundamentalist group (or other groups) achieve political power in late 2011. It remains to be seen whether or not the author's dreams for `democracy' are to be shattered in early 2012, if anti-secular and anti-democratic forces take over the Egyptian government. A MUST READ ! ! The author, Wael Ghonim, a courageous proponent for democracy in a historically undemocratic region -- hopefully he will survive future political unrest.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read Jan. 22 2012
By Ahmed M. El-Geneidy - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wael Ghoniem spoke from his heart in this book, you get this feeling in every page of the book. I bought the Kindle version started reading it at 9:00 pm and could not stop reading till I finished it at 4:00 am. Although I am an Egyptian living abroad who knew about many of the events in the book and followed it closely over past year. Yet Wael gives the general aspect of the event and jumps into details behind the scene that not every person knew about the revolution. It gets a little personal about Wael in some cases yet still interesting to understand the personality of this guy, which I see him as a reflection of this generation. Well done Wael.....and thanks for documenting it in such a nice way. In many instances I felt you were expressing my own feelings. May Allah bless you and reward you for the good that you have done and will do through publishing this book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How smart use of social media sparked a revolution April 22 2012
By B. McEwan - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This is a very good, first person account of how Google employee Wael Ghonim accidentally became a revolutionary. Ghonim was a family man with more knowledge than most about technology, who lived in Cairo and worked for Google. Like many other citizens of Egypt, Ghonim was proud of his heritage and his country, but not so proud of its government under Hosni Mubarak.

The main problem cited by Ghonim and others seems to have been that the secret police had run truly amok. Although the citizenry tolerated Mubarak's 30-year dictatorship for a very long time, eventually people ran out of patience as the secret police became increasingly corrupt and disruptive to the lives of average Egyptians who were no threat to the state. (Congress and Homeland Security, take notice.)

The trigger event was the murder of a young man named Khaled Said, who was beaten to death in Alexandria by two secret police agents. Ghonim saw news of the death online and, in spite of fears for the safety of himself and his family, created a Facebook page to protest what he calls "a grave injustice." The popularity of the page snowballed and eventually Ghonim and a handful of others succeeded in taking the popular outrage off line and into the streets.

I do not think it is incidental that one can draw comparisons between Ghonim's story and the recent story of Trayvon Martin, whose alleged killer was not arrested until there was an overwhelming groundswell of popular demand for it via social media. It is true that the Martin case was aided and abetted by traditional, corporate media, which did not happen in Egypt. And it is also true that the US is not Egypt. I am not saying that I believe the Martin case will spark a revolution in the US. But there is no escaping that the Martin case would have played out differently if average people did not have an avenue of protest such as that provided by Twitter and Facebook. I wonder if these social networks are today's equivalent of pamphlets such as Common Sense, which played a major role in the American Revolution.

Revolution 2.0 is an easy read about a difficult question and that is, "How exactly did a few men start a revolution using social media?" I think the answer is that the Egyptian people were at the breaking point and had already been energized by the revolution, of sorts, in Tunisia. Facebook was a tool, smartly used, to mobilize a population that was ready to roll.

Ghonim's telling of the tale sheds some light on why and how it all happened, but there is much more to be studied and learned about how social media and political action are entwined. This book will, I believe, motivate inquiry and research that promises fascinating and sobering results.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ground Zero for the Egypt Spring Jan. 26 2012
By Joseph J. Slevin - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This is a rare glimps into the foundation of the revolution that changed Egypt. Debunking most of the theories without even referring to them, Wael Ghonim talks about how he developed a FaceBook page that helped to communicate a reaction to the brutalities of the last regime.

Ghonim talks about the history of Egypt, the corrupt practices and how one instance of extreme brutality motivated him to use his understanding of the internet and social media to influence a generation of Egyptians to rise up against those practices.

Using examples from Ghandi and others who approached things in a peaceful, they took the opportunity of the January 25th celebration of the police to motivate thousands to stand up.

We see how little is mentioned of the mass congealing of the Arab speaking/Muslim world into one large block. This heralds the motivation and celebration of freedom.

A must read for our generation, Revolution 2.0, tells a tale of what can happen when people take a chance at freedom.

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