- Hardcover: 464 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Press; First Edition edition (February 26, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594201110
- ISBN-13: 978-1594201110
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 34 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,921,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East First Edition Edition
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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.
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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
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Top customer reviews
I was very impressed, and now like the author, hopeful.
Robin takes on the most volatile players in the Middle East (Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Morocco and Iraq to be exact) and paints with words the most descriptive portrait for each. Having grown up in the region, I know how revealing those portraits are for those who dare peruse them. Her intimate knowledge of Egyptian politics, culture, modern history and collective psyche is astounding. It's evident that her superb soft skills have allowed her to penetrate these cultures and gain the trust of the people who told their story and to whom she listened.
The book is written for a Western audience, who might find the information provided in it completely conflicting with what they thought they knew about the Middle East. The accounts and stories presented in the book aren't clouded with opinions, agendas or spins. The facts are stated and the quotes are relayed. It's pure and simple journalism.
I also believe that another audience might benefit greatly from reading this book--the very people this book is about. Middle Easterners will find in this book a candid reflection of their current affairs. It's imperative for people to know how they are perceived in order to complete their perception of who they really are. We give this feedback to friends and family daily, but nations and cultures don't do that with each other frequently. Here is a chance that I hope doesn't get wasted.
The book in general voices optimism in the future of the Middle East, despite the war in Iraq and despite the rise in Islamic fundamentalism. Painful stories from across the region about fledgling dreams trying to make it and desperate youth fighting to dream are recounted so vividly by the author, who uses her magic to point out the silver lining in each of these stories and in turn keeping our hopes alive for a better tomorrow in the region.
It was definitely an entertaining, informative and thought-provoking read. I highly recommend it.