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Generation Freedom: The Middle East Uprisings and the Remaking of the Modern World Paperback – 28 Jun 2011

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Bruce Feiler examines the biblical and historical underpinnings of the Muslim world's present-day up....

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8c95e018) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c06e720) out of 5 stars THOUGHTFUL ANALYSIS ON THE ARAB SPRING 11 Oct. 2011
By V. L. Wilson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoy all Bruce Feiler books and finished this one last night - it is only 151 pages and details his thoughts on the Middle East revolutions during a recent visit to the region. It is best read slowly and thoughtfully.

I highlighted a few sentences - here is one that stands out: "One in seven human beings today is a Muslim under thirty. No matter what we may think of their religion, their heritage, or their culture, we must find a way to live alongside this next generation in the global economy of tomorrow."

There are five chapters pertaining to how freedom is being viewed across the world at this moment in history. Chapter one is "Freedom Comes Home". Chapter two is "The Birthplace of Freedom". Chapter three is "The Voice of Freedom." Chapter four is "Freedom to Believe". and the final chapter is "Generation Freedom".

The author discusses interviews with young activists, how facebook and technology is changing the modern world, and how religion and freedom must co-exist. I appreciate the fact that Bruce Feiler actually walks around the troubled countries, talks with leaders, and has no agenda other than to acquaint us with a worldview that includes Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faith, and the need for co-operation and understanding. Feiler has spent 15 years traveling from Egypt to Israel, Iraq to Iran, writing about the Bible lands and now trying to find answers as to how the rise of freedom will affect the terrorists and world peace.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c074288) out of 5 stars Arab Spring explained through the Bible? 11 Sept. 2011
By Dunyazad - Published on
Format: Paperback
I wanted to know more about what was going on with the revolutions in the Arab world, and I'd been considering reading Feiler's Walking the Bible for ages, so when I saw that he had written a short book about the uprisings--one that happened to be available for a discount at a closing bookstore--I decided to pick it up. The back covers says that it "looks at the historic youth uprisings sweeping the Middle East and what they mean for the future of peace, coexistence, and relations with the West", which was exactly what I wanted to find out about.

And the book does contain some interesting anecdotes about the revolutions, with a particular focus on Egypt, but on the whole I feel like I didn't learn very much. I maybe shouldn't have had high expectations for such a short book anyway (it's only 142 pages long), but the bigger problem is the approach that Feiler takes to the whole issue, an approach that isn't hinted at at all on the back cover. Basically, he believes that the Bible is the key to understanding the whole situation. There are a lot of comparisons to Moses and the Exodus. The following paragraph basically sums up Feiler's ideas:

"At first glance, it might seem like a stretch to say that the Egyptian Revolution--and the entire swath of uprisings that rattled the Middle East and North Africa beginning in 2010--had their roots in religion. After all, most of the high-profile organizers were young, not overtly spiritual, and their language appeared to be more secular than faith-based. But look beneath the surface, and it's easy to draw a straight line between the passionate cries for freedom across the Middle East and the earliest calls for freedom in the Ancient Near East. In fact, you can't understand the current yearnings without understanding their earliest written expression, and that was in the scriptures of the Abrahamic faiths. Long before the Enlightenment, the Reformation, or even classical Rome and Greece, freedom had its earliest and most influential expression in the Hebrew Bible."

Unfortunately, Feiler didn't remotely convince me of the validity of this view. He talked a lot about the Bible (and a bit about the Qur'an), and I can see that, yes, there were some similar issues at play then and now, but I saw no reason to think that the connections were causal. I didn't feel that his biblical discussions added anything to my understanding of the modern situation in the Middle East, which is what I was actually trying to find out about.

And I should note that in general, I have absolutely nothing against biblical studies or discussions of the ancient world. I'm pursuing a PhD in ancient history; I spend a large percentage of my time thinking about the ancient Near East. Feiler just didn't manage to persuade me of its relevance for the issue at hand. I'll have to seek out another book in order to understand what's going on in the world today.

To be fair, I should mention that Feiler doesn't entirely leave out a discussion of the modern issues. But in a book of this length, once the irrelevant parts are excluded, I don't think there was much more content than you'd find in a couple of magazine articles. I certainly didn't come away from it feeling that I had gained any great new insight into the matter.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c074450) out of 5 stars A Background Piece 22 Aug. 2011
By Thomas M. Magee - Published on
Format: Paperback
Yet another classic piece from Bruce Feiler. If you love his other books you will like this one. Mr. Feiler merges his previous work on the bible and culture with the events from the newspaper. This is a very timely book about this Arab spring. His analysis is incredibly enriching.

Mr. Feiler offers something you won't see any other place. He explains events through various interviews of misc. people in the Arab world. Mr Feiler proves that recent events are not new but as grounded in culture and history as anything else in the region. He interjects bible and cultural references into the story of the Arab spring in Egypt.

I like his appraisal of the situation. He explains things this way. The people in the region are very grounded in their culture and religion. For example Mohammed used green during his conquest campaigns in the 600s as a theme or identification thing. Thus the democracy movement in Iran was called the green movement. There is a history of Islam embracing freedom of thought and of over throwing oppressors. Recent developments in demographics really provide the magic key of understanding to the situation. One third of the people in the Middle East are between the ages of 15 to 29. The population growth rate is at 2%. That is 60% higher than the global average. Mr Feiler explains that population bulges like that lead to trouble. He cites one study by the Population Action International found that between 1970 and 2007 86% of all outbreaks of conflict occurred in countries where 60% were younger than 30.

These new people are faced with few opportunities in their home countries. One report said that unemployment for youth was at 26%. Countries need a growth rate of 7-8% to sustain the population growth. Current growth in the region is only 3.6%. That has lead to horrible society impacts. One of these impacts was that people don't see a chance to get married. Fifty percent of Arab men between 25 to 29 are unmarried compared with 31% in Latin America and 23% in Asia.

Mr. Feiler points out that all of this tension is coming out. It will come out in many different ways. We are seeing it on the news. It is slowly starting to change the religions in the area. Who knows how it will come out in the future?
Also, Iran leads the regions with the highest percent of youth in the region between the ages of 15 to 29.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c2cb8d0) out of 5 stars Journalism at its best 6 Sept. 2011
By JunkyardWisdom - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm split on this book. On the one hand, this is journalism at its best. A timely snapshot of feelings, perspectives and ideas that drove the Arab Spring. But it's also the kind of book that is almost out of date as soon as its printed -- so much has moved so fast that it's difficult to capture it all. I liked the book and learned a lot, but I'm not sure that it will be all that insightful in the months to come.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c2d08b8) out of 5 stars generation freedom 31 July 2011
By Patricia Haynes - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very informative, I had no idea of how this whole process worked in the middle east. This book shows you that it isn't what a lot of the news media protrays. I really liked the book and have recommended to my friends.
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