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Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World with a new concluding chapter by the author [Paperback]

Robin Wright
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 7 2012
A decade after the 9/11 attacks, Robin Wright’s Rock the Casbah took readers deep into rebellions against both autocrats and extremists that were redefining politics, culture, and security across the Islamic world. A year after the Arab Spring, she went back to Egypt and Tunisia where it had all started for an epilogue, The Morning After, describing the new reality—that creating a new order is as hard as ousting the old one. In this brilliant follow-up report, Wright describes the hopes and the turmoil of the region through the words of those who are living it.

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Review

Praise for Rock the Casbah

“[Wright] provides invaluable context for what she rightly terms ‘the epic convulsion across the Islamic world’ by listening to voices we don't usually hear....Anyone seeking deeper understanding of the Arab Spring needs to read Wright's formidably well-informed book ….Wright's richly textured portrait of ancient cultures in the throes of wrenching but liberating transformation makes it quite clear that Muslims themselves will decide their future.”
— Los Angeles Times

“…Wright is an expert on the subject and this book is an accessible and riveting account for readers looking to learn more about the post-9/11 Islamic world.”
Publishers Weekly


“…Wright is one of the most capable observers of the Middle East….her chronicles of counter-jihad, anti-militancy, and women's mobilization are a timely contribution.”
—Huffington Post

Praise for Robin Wright’s

Dreams and Shadows


“Wright has long been one of the best-informed American journalists covering the Middle East, and her reputation is born out here. . . . Her book will be essential reading for anybody who wants to know where it is heading.”
--The New York Times Book Review

“Only Wright could have written Dreams and Shadows because only Wright has traveled so widely, interviewed such diverse leaders, and brought so much wisdom to analyzing the region’s many-sided puzzles. This volume, full of mesmerizing detail and large truths, sets a new standard for scholarship on the modern Middle East.”

--Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State

“If there is such a thing as a pinnacle in the landscape of international journalism, Robin Wright surely stands atop it.”

--The New York Review of Books

“Robin Wright is well aware of the complexities, paradoxes and the seemingly insurmountable dilemmas facing the Middle East today. She reminds us that in facing these challenges we need not resort to military force and violence or resign ourselves to compromise with extremism and tyranny.”
-- Azar Nafisi, author Reading Lolita in Tehran

“The best of all possible worlds: An old hand guides us through the changes in the post-9/11 Middle East, and is able to sort out in a sober, smart way what is really going on.”

--Thomas Ricks, author Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Robin Wright has reported from 140 countries for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Time, The Atlantic, The Sunday Times, and others. She has been a fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Yale, Duke, and Stanford. She is the author of seven books on international affairs.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars ignore CNN read this book Feb. 10 2013
By jdavidg
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In a world contaminated by Americanized news, this book is a breath of fresh air.
One wonders where the authors journalism was published or aired. Certainly not
on US mainstream media. This book sheds light on the burgeoning social revolution
within a multitude of countries ruled by "extractive elitist governance" (see
Why Nations Fail - Daron Acemoglu). That these countries are Islamic simply
reminds us that Muslims are people who want what all want: personal security,
education, unbiased rule of law.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More than a journalist Dec 22 2011
By Brian Griffith TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wright has the far-flung contacts, the long-term friendships, the historical memory, and the global perspective to really celebrate the Arab Spring right. Her account is gripping, immediate, sometimes horrifying, and generally celebratory. She pays tribute to a host of heroes who richly deserve our admiration. She is helping Westerners see Middle Easterners the way they see neighbors. Some aspects of this cultural renaissance, such as "Hip-Hop Islam," are hard to convey in a book chapter format. Others, like "The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour" come across quite powerfully, even hilariously. All told, Wright makes it as more than a journalist. This is journalism that empowers friendship and respect.
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5.0 out of 5 stars rock the casbah Dec 3 2011
Format:Hardcover
Shows the difference in the Islamic world between professional Islamists and true believers who follow the Koran as a guide to a good life and not as a weapon to political power.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wright's in-depth knowledge of Islamic societies' imparts insight to her Compelling Review and Analysis of Islamic Spring July 26 2011
By Didaskalex - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
****
"Tunisia and Egypt both saw regime change in less than 30 days. Syria has now been going on five months. And in many ways, Syria is the most surprising and the most difficult place because it is such a brutal regime and it's also geographically right in the middle of, whether it's Israel on one front, the Gulf states on another, ..., that it is so pivotal to what happens in so many other places." -- Robin Wright

The Casbah, is the fortified citadel in many North African cities, similar to the citadel of Algiers in Algeria, governor's headquarters. The name made its way into English from French in the late 19th century. "Rock the Casbah," expresses the mood of the Arab Spring and the revolt against their Muslim dictators. Over the last few decades, tensions have been brewing in Arabic and Muslim countries on the South and East Mediterranean shores, and around the Gulf of Aden. The Arab Spring has targeted several regimes in the Middle East; first, Tunisia's ruler Ben Ali, then Egypt's Mubarak was forced to step down, leaving the country with uncertain future; and Egypt western neighbor, Libya, has since a civil war to oust Qadhafi after forty years of lunatic dictatorship. Assad's cling to power caused Syria hundreds of deaths and thousands of civilian causalities. Meanwhile Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh; is recovering from his wounds and burns caused by a rocket attack, has vowed to fight to the death against the Yemeni tribes lining up against him.

Robin Wright reviews the chaotic situation caused by the political unrest, populous revolts, and civil wars in the Middle East, and across the Islamic World. She portrays those events as part of a general trend, "the counter-jihad, which is unfolding in the wider Islamic bloc of fifty-seven countries as well as among Muslim minorities worldwide." Young Muslims under 30, constitute a majority in the Islamic world, they are at the forefront of this dramatic change. Not just the protestors blockades in Egypt and Tunisia, but on the demonstration platforms in Morocco and Jordan and even on television in Saudi Arabia. She believes that citizens of Muslim majority countries are not only rocking autocratic regimes, but are also counter revolting the violent extremism of terrorist organizations: Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and the fundamentalist Islamic ideology of Muslim Brotherhood, Wahabi Salafis financed by gulf autocratic regimes, and Iran's supported Hamas and Hizbullah fueling terrorism and theocratic rule in Iran.

Wright's in-depth knowledge of Islamic societies cultures and traditions imparts meaning to facts and circumstance provided in every paragraph of "Rock the Casbah." As she compellingly comments, the critical balance between religion and modernity may cause Western observers a great concern. Young generation of Muslim women, she describes as "committed to their faith, firm about their femininity, and resolute about their rights," will cause a pang of uneasy feelings in most observing feminists, distrustful of the Islamic proclamation that "hejab is now about liberation, not confinement" which uncovers an appeasing deal between Muslim girls and society. Meanwhile, she does not reduce the difficulty of the undertaking facing those in search of an authentic form of islamic democracy.

Her final chapters briefly describes political chaos following revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, and the ongoing battles of brutal oppression in Libya, Syria and Yemen. Various demonstration of dissatisfaction, modes of protest in the hope of achieving some success across the Islamic world, are surveyed; without any attempt to predict their near or ultimate outcomes. She warns that, "There is still a wild ride ahead," because new government will be in a position to meet the popular high expectations of either jobs or social justice in the foreseeable future.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rock the Casbah Aug. 13 2011
By jem - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Remarkable book both in details and perspective that most of the US media are missing. Listening to poets historically revered in the Middle East, hip-hop rappers utilizing new technology, feminists in pink hejab, standup comedians mocking irrational fears of all Muslims, and Muslim clerics with a wide television following, Robin Wright has caught the backlash within the Muslim community against Islamic extremism that only her years of experience as an international journalist can interpret. This is a must read for any American who really wants to understand the current turmoil across the Middle East. Despite Wright's warning that the young revolutionaries expect too much too soon, and her cautions that all change encounters setbacks, her overall perspective is definitely encouraging. She has great faith that it will be the worldwide Muslim community that determines its own fate. It would be helpful if American politicians and diplomats were listening more closely to this reporter who has spent years developing an understanding not only of Middle Eastern leadership but the vast variations among Sunni and Shia populations in countries with very different cultures. For the majority of Americans who do not have a close Muslim friend nor the opportunity to travel in a Muslim country, reading this book is the next best thing.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A post 9/11 must Sept. 3 2011
By Paulette Lee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Anyone who has wondered, "Why don't Muslims speak out about Islamic extremism?", or wants to know the behind-the-scenes details about the "Arab Spring" revolutions and where the Arab world is headed, must read this book. It's a fascinating, well-researched, detailed account of what the Muslim youth (primarily) are doing about taking control of their futures -- and their religion -- and how they're doing it.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Spark that Ignited the Arab Spring Sept. 5 2011
By Dr. Pete - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I heard Robin Wright interviewed on PBS NewsHour. That interview led me to purchase this book which is essentially a series of events that occurred in Arabic/Muslim countries over the past 12-15 months. The book provided to me an understanding of what ignited the recent protests in the Arab/Muslim world. I now have considerably more hope for democratic style freedoms in those areas of the world. This is a very readable book, one that the reader will enjoy while being informed.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Last three months makes this book irrelevent Jan. 26 2013
By James D. Crabtree - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book had weaknesses before the last few months, arguing as it does that Muslims all over the Middle east are mounting a "counter-jihad." Apparantly, the counter-jihad will not be televised because I have never seen it.

It argues how much Muslims turned against bin-Laden prior to his death. It does NOT mention that those same Muslims hid bin-Laden, not in some cave in the border regions of Pakistan but in the major city of Abbattobad, near one of the Pakistani Army's largest bases. It does NOT mention the large-scale rioting and the destruction of supply convoys to Afghanistan. It does NOT mention that the Pakistani doctor who helped us confirm the target was charged with TREASON (!) and is now serving time in a prison... for assisting us to get rid of this guy that Muslims supposedly hate.

It argues that the Arab Spring is a bunch of democratic movements across the Middle East, in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria, a form of Islamic democracy which is not like that of our nasty and confusing western democracy. This democracy simplifies things by simplifying the electorate to exclude women and eventually excluding voting of any kind. Or at least that seems to be the way I've seen Africa and the Middle East go.

But three months has made a difference.

Benghazi showed us that Libya clearly is not a happy-go-lucky terrorist-free democracy.

Pakistan has seen the Taliban attempting to kill or disfigure girls trying to get an education.

Gaza had the Arab world cheering for Hamas as it "defended itself" by hurling high-explosive rockets at Israeli towns.

Turkey had the Arab World condemning them for the "aggressive act" of asking for NATO Patriot units to defend themselves from Syrian attack.

President Morsi tried a huge powergrab in Egypt after Gaza settled down and has rammed through a new constitution which only pleases the Islamists. He clearly misjudged how popular he thought he was as he was overthrown by the military in scenes puncuated by fireworks and celebrations in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria.

Syria has collapsed into a civil war which sees a rebel eating the heart of his enemy on YouTube... and this is supposed to be one of the GOOD guys.

And of course, there is the most recent unpleasantness in Algeria...

Sorry, but this book is simply someone trying to see something that isn't there because you WANT it to be there, like the canals of Mars.
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