"Samuel Tadros's book, "Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity," is a scholarly yet riveting account of this tragedy. The author takes us on a grim tour through the modern history of Egypt, chronicling the rise and fall of its Coptic minority, the country's largest Christian community." —Michael J. Totten, Wall Street Journal
"Samuel Tadros, author of the newly published Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity
, an account of modern Egyptian history after Napoleon’s 1798 invasion, and one of the most in-depth English-language histories of Egypt’s age-old Christian minority population." —Lee Smith, Tablet Magazine
"Tadros’s historically informed description of Egypt’s ongoing failure to come to terms with modernity reveals the shallowness of most contemporary American commentary, rooted as it is in the categories of parochial Western modernity." —Paul Marshall, National Review
"The only option, for many, is escape to the West—an option that may end a Christian presence that has endured in Egypt since St. Mark the Evangelist arrived 2000 years ago." —Mark Movsesian, firstthings.com
"By no means does Tadros offer a solely political account. He pays due attention to the modern Coptic culture revival and sketches the genuinely exciting spiritual rebirth of modern times, a phenomenon that clamors to be better known among Western Christians." —Philip Jenkins, Books & Culture
From the Inside Flap
The specifically Egyptian crisis of modernity, understood as a question of the compatibility of Islam with modernity, has resulted in the development of various state and intellectual approaches. Those approaches have shaped the way the Copts—the native Egyptian Christians—were viewed and led to their banishment from the public sphere as a community, though not as individuals. But the failure of liberalism in Egypt did not result in the Copt’s current predicament. Rather, it was the approach that liberalism followed that brought about this dilemma.
In Motherland Lost, Samuel Tadros argues against the dominating narratives that have shaped the understanding of the Coptic predicament--their eternal persecution, from the Roman and Byzantine emperors to the rule of Islam, and the national unity discourse--asserting rather that it is due to the crisis of modernity. The book aims to bridge the gap between two different groups of studies. Although excellent works in the first group tackle the Egyptian crisis of modernity, the Copts are assigned the position of secondary actors that are affected by the overall framework and picture but do not possess an independent agency of their own. The second group contains excellent historical studies of Coptic issues and history but has, for the most part, ignored completely the overall picture of Egypt. This book aims to tie the two groups’ books together. More than a history book, Motherland Lost covers the long history of the Coptic Church and people but does not thoroughly examine that history. Rather, the book approaches those questions with a focus on how they are understood by the various forces and groups in Egypt today. The prospects for Copts in Egypt are limited at best, and a new wave of Coptic immigration has already begun that will not only be a loss to them and their church but a loss to a country and a region of a portion of its identity and history.