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ISBN-13: 978-0195169638
ISBN-10: 0195169638
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Editorial Reviews

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"Here we have a bird's-eye view of Morocco today as seen through the eyes of a seasoned reporter who has had a long love affair with the country. Her first-hand account of the early days of nationhood when Morocco's destiny hung in the balance is especially absorbing and well worth the retelling."--Susan Gilson Miller, Director of Moroccan Studies, Harvard University


"This is a very special book and everyone who is going to Morocco or is seriously interested in that country should have it. Clearly written, it combines a traveler's description of the country with a historical and contemporary review. It focuses on the opportunities and dilemmas facing King Muhammad VI as he seeks to modernize and democratize Morocco in the face of long standing economic and social problems, rising Islamist influence and concerns about international terrorism. An established journalist, Marvine Howe has been covering Morocco since the early 1950s and knows almost everyone of political importance. She provides a rare view of both the underside and the surface of Moroccan politics today."--Richard B. Parker, Former Ambassador to Morocco


"Morocco is an intriguing, culturally complex country that's become a focal point in the contest between democracy and Islamic terrorism. Marvine Howe has a longstanding, intimate knowledge of the country. Here, she shares her insights into the lives and thoughts of a broad sampling of its 30 million people--women's rights activists, veteran politicians, Amazigh (Berber) educators, hard-pressed slum-dwellers, Muslim association leaders, and more. Howe's illuminating tour reveals the continued ossification of the country's political system--but also, surprises such as the relative liveliness of its NGO sector."--Helena Cobban, Columnist, The Christian Science Monitor


From the Publisher

"Here we have a bird's-eye view of Morocco today as seen through the eyes of a seasoned reporter who has had a long love affair with the country. Her first-hand account of the early days of nationhood when Morocco's destiny hung in the balance is especially absorbing and well worth the retelling."--Susan Gilson Miller, Director of Moroccan Studies, Harvard University

"This is a very special book and everyone who is going to Morocco or is seriously interested in that country should have it. Clearly written, it combines a traveler's description of the country with a historical and contemporary review. It focuses on the opportunities and dilemmas facing King Muhammad VI as he seeks to modernize and democratize Morocco in the face of long standing economic and social problems, rising Islamist influence and concerns about international terrorism. An established journalist, Marvine Howe has been covering Morocco since the early 1950s and knows almost everyone of political importance. She provides a rare view of both the underside and the surface of Moroccan politics today."--Richard B. Parker, Former Ambassador to Morocco

"Morocco is an intriguing, culturally complex country that's become a focal point in the contest between democracy and Islamic terrorism. Marvine Howe has a longstanding, intimate knowledge of the country. Here, she shares her insights into the lives and thoughts of a broad sampling of its 30 million people--women's rights activists, veteran politicians, Amazigh (Berber) educators, hard-pressed slum-dwellers, Muslim association leaders, and more. Howe's illuminating tour reveals the continued ossification of the country's political system--but also, surprises such as the relative liveliness of its NGO sector."--Helena Cobban, Columnist, The Christian Science Monitor
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (June 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195169638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195169638
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.6 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #424,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jazz It Up Baby on January 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Vance Serchuk, from the American Enterprise Institute said that Morocco has been praised by the World Bank for having "one of the most successful programs of human development and political liberalization in the Middle East and North Africa"--which is a little like being named valedictorian of summer school. Still, if any of the states in the Arab world have a shot at making a controlled transition from autocracy to democracy, Rabat is probably toward the top of the list. All the ingredients would seem to be in place: a young, popular, pro-Western ruler, committed to modernizing and liberalizing the country; relative domestic stability and national cohesion; and, not least, geographic proximity to Western Europe, along with strong cultural ties there.

Why, then, have the country's problems--from stunted economic growth to the threat of Islamist terrorism--proven so intractable? Morocco, as Howe describes it, is stuck in the same bind as the old regimes of nineteenth century Europe. On the one hand, any move on the monarchy's part to withdraw from governance threatens to create a vacuum, which undesirable actors such as the Islamists would rush to fill; on the other hand, liberal reforms--from the cleanup of thuggish security services to improvements in the legal status of women--are made possible only when they are rammed through the system by the unassailable, and fundamentally illiberal, authority of the king.

Like its subject, Howe's book, unfortunately, suffers from confusion about its identity, veering in tone from memoir to travelogue to journalism. The writing would have benefited from the hand of a stronger editor: Howe's descriptions of the Moroccan people and landscape, in particular, read like those sections of a Lonely Planet guidebook that travelers usually skip.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Bertrand C. Bellaigue on December 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Morocco: The Islamist Awakening and Other Challenges by Marvine Howe

Oxford University Press, 2005.

Surely, this is a book that goes beyond the beaten paths - not only those of the classic history of Morocco with its dynasties, its kasbahs, its folklore, Andalusian cuisine, mint tea and marble fountains - but also its recent past during which a powerful monarch, who incarnated Religion and Tradition as well as reform and modernity, who faced traditions stronger than his own, military and civilian forces on his right and even "progressive" forces who barred the way to reforms that were not of their making.

This book is different because it gives voice to young Moroccans who describe their daily lives and to women who reaffirm their own demands and their solidarity with women everywhere.

This book is remarkable in that it presents the growth of the Islamist phenomenon (surely one of the first English-language publications to do so), which had been an underlying factor in the past, without being totally absent, and now has targeted - in a timid fashion still - the actual head of the pyramid of power in Morocco, that is the two institutions: the monarchy and religion of which the young king is the supreme depositary.

Nor does this work fail to examine that painful chapter for all Moroccans which is known as les années de plomb -the years of lead - a period of "tortures and disappearances.'' At the same time, it notes the establishment of the Commission for Equity and Reconciliation, the only example of its kind in the Arab-Muslim world for such cases, and which has not altogether failed its enormous task of reconciling the country with itself and the people with the regime.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Odysseus on September 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
One occasionally wonders what has happened to the ethic of journalism as practiced at the New York Times. I bought this book on Morocco, having visited the country and retained an interest in learning more about its history. Unfortunately, the book turned out to be a sequence of highly personal and subjective takes on Moroccan politics, by a New York Times reporter who hasn't learned the difference between reflexive biases and objective fact.

Not that I have any personal beef with the facts as portrayed in this book. The author has much greater experience and knowledge of Morocco than I do, and for all I know, if I possessed the same knowledge, I might reach the same conclusions as does she.

But unfortunately she fritters away her credibility by serving up one highly questionable, subjective take on events after another, and more to the point, inappropriately presenting these as objective takes on events.

A few cases in point:

Howe lauds one Moroccan activist/author for being willing to "call a spade a spade," and presents as evidence of this a quotation in which the author denounces the US military action in Iraq. Now, this is hardly evidence of the author's being willing to "call a spade a spade." Nothing is more convenient in much of the Arab world than to take rhetorical shots at the US action in Iraq; no especial courage or clarity required. In fact, Howe later, in the book, documents that Morocco's official position was in opposition to the US action, and that Moroccans took to the streets to protest it. How, then, is the quote evidence of being willing to "call a spade a spade?" All the episode reveals is that Howe opposes the US action and therefore equates a denunciation of it with truth.
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