This book is an excellent account of the rise of the most important opposition movement in Egypt since the 1952 revolution. While its discussion of the last 8 years is unfortunately a bit truncated, this is probably one of the best texts out there to study a major islamic political movement in its proper context. What the author successfully does is not only take the study of social movements outside of its standard western milieu, but also look at the critical role ideology plays in mobilizing particular segments of the population to support and join a (r)evolutionary movement.
While political economy explanations can show the context that leads to the creation of a potential audience for a message of social justice and transformation of society from below, it doesn't explain why people would do so when the costs of such action in an authoritarian country are so high. Usually survival is the paramount concern of most in society outside the coopted elite, unless an opportunity for change occurs. But such was not the case in Egypt in the 1970s and 80s, not one sufficiently great in and of itself anyway, to mobilize the disaffected semi elite who did join and became the backbone of the Brotherhood. What was needed also was a message of hope, social justice, and fairness, and that message was supplied by moderate political islam. The opportunity of course was facilitated by the traditional failure not only of the state's own neopopulist economic, social, and educational policies, but also of the main other opposition socialist movements. Moderate political islam provided the answer for many.
It should be noted that this book, unlike many other studies of egyptian political islam by authors like Barry Rubin and Mary Anne Weaver, does not focus on the more violent offshoots of the Brotherhood, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and Al Qaeda. Ergo this is not a book about terrorism. But that's kind of the point, this shows the fact the even now (at least before 9/11) mainstream political Islam in most Moslem nations in the Middle East and beyond are quite moderate and while wanting to create a Moslem state in the long run (i.e. over decades) are willing to do so from below. Wickham quotes a female activist in the book who says precisely that, i.e. that by teaching children about the religion, its values, and goals, as well as their mothers and fathers, that over time this will help build support for the movement until it grows to a large enough popular majority to overtake the state peacefully. This could be called revolutionary in the sense that the long term goal is change of the state and society, but it is neither a top down, not militant movement, but rather one that seeks to achieve its goals at the ballot box, in the mosques, schools, health care centers, sports clubs, newstands, in professional associations, and such rather than with weapons. It therefore very much is a study of a movement in a major Moslem nation that joins a growing list of outstanding works in English on the subject from other countries such as Jenny White's "Islamist Mobilization in Turkey" about Turkey's AK party, which recently came to power and Robert W. Hefner's "Civil Islam" about Indonesia's Nhladatul Ulama of former President Abdurahman Wahid.
If you want to understand what mainstream political islam stands for and is seeking to achieve, in the most important Arab nation at that, this is probably the most important book you could read.