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Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East Hardcover – 22 May 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA (22 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199314055
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199314058
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 2 x 16.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 116,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"The Islamists are a confounding political phenomenon, and Mr. Hamid is acute on the paradoxes they present... he is to be commended for delivering complicated news to no one's liking--not the Brothers, not their modestly hopeful fans in the West, and not their fire-breathing enemies either." --James Traub, Wall Street Journal"Who are the Islamists? What are the boundaries of their politics? And what decides whether they moderate or grow extreme? These are questions of great importance, which Shadi Hamid addresses in Temptations of Power with clarity and erudition. Hamid relies on his intimate experience with Islamist politics to provide an expansive picture of religious and political issues that are shaping the future of the Middle East. This book is a welcome contribution to the debate on the future of Islamism, one that all those interested in Middle East politics should read." --Vali Nasr, author of TheDispensable Nation"The best book I've ever read on political Islam and the Arab spring." --Peter Beinart, author of The Crisis of Zionism"In this first draft of history, Shadi Hamid advances a bold, counterintuitive thesis about the Muslim Brotherhood's trajectory: that political repression before the Arab Spring forced moderation, and electoral victory in its aftermath brought on illiberalism and failure. Even those who disagree will have to take on Hamid's arguments about the centrality of ideology. Required reading for anyone who cares about the future of Islamism, liberal democracy, and the Arab world." --Noah Feldman, Bernis Professor of International Law, Harvard Law School"Shadi Hamid has an almost oracular knowledge of the Middle East. His analysis of the rise and fall of the so-called 'Arab Spring, ' which he distills in this excellent and eminently readable book, has been frighteningly accurate. This is mandatory reading for anyone interested in the past, present, and future of Islamism across the Middle East." --Reza Aslan, author of Zealot and No god but God"Foreign policy experts have long had a blind spot regarding political Islam, failing to understand or appreciate the complex interplay between a deeply rooted vision of a purer society and the competing demands of democratic legitimacy and constitutional liberalism. Temptations of Power leaves us no excuse for continued ignorance. It is a nuanced, carefully researched, and engaging analysis that draws on history, culture, political theory, and theology to illuminate contemporary politics across the Middle East and North Africa." --Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New America Foundation

About the Author

Shadi Hamid is Director of Research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He is a contributor for The Atlantic and a member of the World Bank's MENA Advisory Panel. Prior to joining Brookings, he was Director of Research at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) and a Hewlett Fellow at Stanford University's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Hamid has written on the Middle East and U.S. policy for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, Slate, The National Interest,Foreign Policy, and many other publications. He has been a guest on NBC Nightly News, the PBS Newshour, and CNN's "Amanpour," and frequently provides commentary on NPR, BBC World News, and Al Jazeera. His writing has been featured on NBC's "Meet the Press," and the Washington Post named him one of the top 23 Twitter accounts "you must follow to understand Egypt."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic book about 'Islamist' in the ME, particularly for the mainstream Islamist movement, under the umbrella of the thought of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The main source is not from a keyboard research but is on the basis of a long term fieldwork, personal observation, over hundred hours interviews with Islamists and digging out archives.

What is the features of this book is that it provides a brand new perspective or framework of looking at how Islamists reacted to the different contexts and why the local social structure contributed to the rise of Islamists during the 'Arab Spring'.

In other words, it is highly recommended to read this book if anyone want to grasp the current Islamist movement in this region.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An unbiased context and history of the political struggle for Islamic government 4 Oct 2014
By Joe Briggs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Temptations is an academic, yet accessible work that details the struggles of some of the groups of people who believe that Islam is a complete recipe for life and living, and feel motivated to form a society that is a complete and uncorrupted manifestation of it. It introduces the inherent conflict between the western notion of 'liberal democracy' and right of a people to demand it be limited by Sharia or other conservative religious admonitions.

The book does not pass judgement on the strengths or weaknesses of Islam-as-government, but rather examines Islam-as-political-party, and their strategies, following, successes, failures, and weaknesses. I was very impressed how the author could write such as book without showing any detectable sign of bias.

Be aware that Temptations is an insiders book - it tosses in terms and names that I wasn't familiar with. It would have been nice if the author included a one-page guide or cheat-sheet that gave a quick breakdown on terms like "vicegerency", or "umma", or "Rachid Ghannouchi", or, most importantly, exactly what the hell "Sharia" actually is. The book chronicles Islamic political movements primarily in Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan.

While Hamid chronicles and analyzes the Arab Spring - which has happened before our eyes these last four years, he provides background and historical context for each of those countries. He also provides some limited amount of analysis at the end about the role of US influence in these governments has tainted the people from finding their own natural political center, and how that still lingers and demurs those whom it effects.

I found Temptations to be very useful in understanding and wetting my appetite for learning more about Islam and Islamic government, but it is a chicken nugget and not a Happy Meal - it doesn't attempt to wrap everything up into one tidy package. You will need to search further if you are interested in a fuller understanding. I am already looking for the next book in this puzzle.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A Fresh Perspective on the Modern Middle East 24 Jun 2014
By Canleeza14 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Prior to reading the book, I believed, alongside many other foreign policy commentators of today, that the waves of the democratic Arab spring would eventually lead to a liberalization and moderation of Islamist political parties. Shadi flips this thesis on its head by eloquently analyzing the Egyptian and Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood organizations in an interesting, yet not overly-scholarly manner. The author's anecdotes of meetings with senior Islamist figures gives the text an extra dimension and and I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Middle East and political parties.
15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Written like an academic so a little slow 5 July 2014
By Kevin J. Ashley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Written like an academic so a little slow. But a message everyone needs to hear. Islamists are not Al Qaeda. Sharia is not evil. To understand the yearning for freedom in the Arab world one must understand the Arab people whose conservative views are so often ignored when evaluating "what is good for them". For Western Colonialists this book gives some insight into the disagreements between traditional Arab culture and both 20th century extremes in capitalism and communism. A third choice anathema to both. But what do you do when the majority chooses it?
He gives you some great insights into the Arab world in particular and why ... 31 Oct 2014
By Butch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
He gives you some great insights into the Arab world in particular and why there is no democracy as we in the west look at it !
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This book begins to explain the 'why' of what appears ... 2 Oct 2014
By Fred Baumgarten - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book begins to explain the 'why' of what appears to be a series of irrational actions and reactions that are shaping current events.
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