Cambanis brings to life the noble dreamers who brought Egypt to the brink of freedom, and the dark powerful forces that for the time being stopped them short. Read more...
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Cambanis brings to life the noble dreamers who brought Egypt to the brink of freedom, and the dark powerful forces that for the time being stopped them short. But he also tells a universal story of inspirational people willing to transform themselves in order to transform their society. He focuses on two pivotal leaders: One is Basem, an apolitical middle-class architect who puts his entire family in danger when he seizes the chance to improve his country. The other is Moaz, a contrarian Muslim Brother who defies his own organization to join the opposition.
These revolutionaries had little more than their idealism with which to battle the secret police, the old oligarchs, and a power-hungry military determined to keep control. Basem wanted to change the system from within and became one of the only revolutionaries to win a seat in parliament. Moaz took a different course, convinced that only street pressure from youth movements could dismantle the old order. Their courageous and imperfect decisions produced an uprising with one enduring outcome: No Arab leader ever again can take the population s consent for granted.
"Once Upon a Revolution" is a welcome addition to the literature on Egypt s uprising ("Library Journal"). Featuring exclusive and distinctive reporting, Thanassis Cambanis s fluent, intelligent, and highly informed book convincingly explains what happened in Egypt over the last four years ("The New York Times Book Review")."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-12-15
- Reviewer: Staff
As the heady days of revolution in Tahrir Square recede further into the past, liberal democracy in Egypt seems increasingly like a pipe dream. Beirut-based journalist Cambanis (A Privilege to Die) follows two leaders of the uprising from the beginnings of their political involvement to the military coup that overthrew Mohamed Morsi. Basem, an unassuming architect, becomes one of the few liberal members of parliament, while Moaz, a Muslim Brother, grows increasingly disenchanted with political Islam. Cambanis eloquently describes post-Mubarak Egypt and the “chaos coursing below the surface, but open conflict still just over the horizon,” as well as the “inability of secular and liberal forces to unify and organize,” which left the political field open to the military apparatus and the secretive Islamists. Crushed by arbitrary military edicts and ascendant puritanism, Egypt’s nascent civil society stalled and sputtered while its freewheeling press degenerated into “a brew of lies, delusion, paranoia, and justification.” The people Cambanis shadows never lose hope, exactly, but he makes clear that they feel as if they are spitting into the wind, struggling to enunciate what the revolution accomplished. Agent: Wendy Strothman, Strothman Agency. (Feb.)