From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Despite having lost several of her friends in the 1983 US Embassy bombing in Beirut, Wright (The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran) is guardedly optimistic for the Middle East's future: "a generation after the Beirut bombing, Islamic extremism is no longer the most important, interesting, or dynamic force in the Middle East." Her observations, of a "budding culture of change"-even, perhaps, a "renaissance"-are bolstered by platinum credentials; for more than 30 years, Wright has been covering the region for major American publications including The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly and Foreign Affairs. She illuminates her assessment with stories of the new "voices in the region" pushing for a more open, democratic society: activists, reformers, political leaders and ordinary citizens (like an Egyptian "middle-aged soccer mom" so outraged to learn of female government agents beating female demonstrators that she became an activist). Wright also tackles the big targets; though a staunch supporter of Israel, Wright sees the potential for reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, in an effort to maintain democracy in Palestine, as a positive harbinger of change for the entire region. Further interviews, anecdotes, a crystalline sense of the area's multifarious history and a clear message-practical, progressive change requires "sorting out the past or at least trying to move beyond it"-make this a vital, compelling and surprisingly uplifting piece of reporting.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Wright has covered the Middle East since 1973. Highly acclaimed author of The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran (2000), she brings a long perspective to the current challenges faced by the U.S.—and the world—in the Middle East. Drawing on interviews with Palestinian and Lebanese militants, Egyptian and Moroccan activists, Syrian and Iranian reformers, Wright offers a broad perspective on the issues facing particular nations and the broader area. The interviews add an immediacy and sense of human urgency to conflicts in a region often rendered from great political and emotional distance. Wright examines the historic and current factors that add to the complexity, including unfulfilled promises of democracy, the rise of al-Qaeda, oil riches, globalization, and the Internet. She concludes with an analysis of how the U.S. invasion in Iraq has impacted the region as well as prospects for democratic government and cultural tolerance there. Readers interested in a broader perspective on conflict in the Middle East will appreciate Wright’s absorbing, insightful book. --Vanessa Bush