Review of The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World edited by Fawaz A. Gerges

With this volume Fawaz A. Gerges, Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics, has perhaps achieved the best attempt yet to present a comprehensive account of the background, events and fallout of the various uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa that began in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, in December 2010. The volume comprises 21 chapters authored by a range of very well established and highly reputable contributors. The aims of the volume, as Gerges states in the introduction, are twofold.

The first is to highlight commonalities, links and “systematic conditions” (35) throughout the region while also noting the important distinctions between each case study. The second aim is to reach beyond the sometimes-superficial conclusions prominent in the tidal wave of academic, semi academic and media analyses that have grown as the “Arab Spring” and its aftermath unfolded. This book rejects obvious conclusions – for example, “binary opposites (stable monarchies versus volatile republics)” (35) – and avoids the dangers of perpetuating common errors such as assuming causality between events or historical determinism.