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The New Middle East: The World After the Arab Spring [Hardcover]

Paul Danahar
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Aug 2013

For the past forty years the images flashing across our television screens from the Middle East have provoked anger, outrage and, sometimes, military action from the international community. But the stories behind them were rarely understood.

In 2011 the revolutions of the Arab Spring changed everything. Now, the handful of dictators who ruled brutally over hundreds of millions of people - Hosni Mubarak, Ben Ali, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad - have gone, or are fighting for their lives. They have left behind countries in turmoil, the people forced to re-examine their identities and regional loyalties, and to decide what role Islam will play in their lives and their politics. The collapse of the old order has left the West scrambling to make sense of a region it hardly recognises. If the people of the Arab world can now speak openly for the first time, then it is also the West's first chance to listen. And there are many questions to be answered.

Drawing on compelling first-hand reporting from Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Israel, Syria and Tunisia, and deep knowledge of the region's history and access to many of its key players, BBC Bureau Chief Paul Danahar lays bare the forces that are shaping the new Middle East.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (15 Aug 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140884057X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408840573
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 150,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Danahar was the BBC's Middle East Bureau Chief between 2010-2013 and ran the organisation's award winning news coverage of the Arab Spring.

He was awarded an MBE in 2003 for his work as the Baghdad Bureau Chief during the American-led invasion. Prior to his present posting he was the BBC's East Asia Bureau Chief for three years, and previous to that he was the BBC's South Asia Bureau Chief, covering the rise, fall and eventual return of the Taliban. He is one of a small number of journalists to have reported from all three countries that make up the so-called 'Axis of Evil': Iraq, Iran and North Korea. In the summer of 2013 he moved to Washington DC to become the BBC's Americas Bureaux Chief

Product Description

Review

Danahar weaves a complex narrative into a lively, accessible read, much of which should withstand the passage of time . A solid but easygoing compendium for anyone who wants a read beyond the headlines, done with a journalistic lightness of touch (Daily Telegraph)

This is a book about what happened after the Arab leaders were toppled in 2011, after the euphoria went flat and people went home again ... The optimistic take on the Arab revolution, though, is that the coups and massacres are part of a messy process that will eventually lead to more democratically responsive societies. This argument threads its way through Danahar's remarkable analysis of the Arab Spring and I would like it to come true ... Danahar, an old Iraq hand, knows his sectarian fault lines and is a good guide. And, exceptionally for an Arabist, he deftly weaves in the problems of Isreal ... This is a book that tries to engage with people who can speak for everyone in the Spring, from Brotherhood activists ... To Israeli and Egyptian generals. It is written in a spirit of adventure ... And is all the better for it (The Times)

The New Middle East is far and away the best book I've read on the effects of the Arab Spring: an excellent amalgamation of the scholarly and the journalistic, which gives it both a magisterial overview and the precision of close-up experience. Country by country Danahar has gone through the most important countries of the region, tracking the causes of change and the likely effects, and each of his judgments seems to me to be precise, enviably clear, thoroughly grounded and highly impressive. The world will move on after The New Middle East, and there will be major new developments, especially in Syria, but this book will continue to offer far more than just a snapshot of a particular moment: it will be a text which I, for one, will come back to again and again in order to understand the future (John Simpson)

It's hard to think of a senior BBC journalist better placed to write such a fine book on what the Middle East and the world looks like in the wake of the Arab Spring or one that has more insights . He has managed to achieve what many writers rarely do; to allow the voices of the people he has met, interviewed and worked and travelled with to emerge and to paint a picture of the Arab Spring through their eyes. He has done so in a style that is immediate, accessible and filled with warmth, compassion, realism (Rageh Omaar)

Reporters who can analyse, and analysts who spent time on the ground, are rare. Time and again in this thorough, provocative and readable work, Danahar shows he combines the best of both. Danahar has spent years on the ground, working in some of the toughest places in the world. But this is no instant journalist's account. Every turned page reveals deep research, powerful argument and a talent for acutely observed detail. Anyone interested in the Middle East, its present, past or future, should read this book (Jason Burke)

There is lots of writing about the Middle East, much of it muddle-headed and ludicrously partial. It leaves you longing for a book that is clear-headed, honest and intelligent. Paul Danahar has produced such a book. His narrative spans a turbulent time but throughout all the upheavals and horrors he witnesses Danahar is a calm and intelligent witness. There is also great humanity in this excellent book. One is never allowed to forget that the Arab Spring is a narrative of people in extremis (Fergal Keane)

Danahar's account has the pacey urgency and vivid colour of on-the-day news reporting ... he gives coherence and shape to the historic shifts taking place. He has a talent for shutting the noise of extraneous detail and laying bare the big picture. This book is trenchant, opinionated, blunt, entertaining and pleasingly readable. If you want a thorough accessible account of what has been going on in the Arab world over the last decade - and the historical context that gave rise to it - look no further (Allan Little)

He reports perceptively on the internal contradictions of the Jewish state, from militant settlers to the ultraorthodox Haredim (Christopher de Bellaigue, Guardian)

A timely exploration of an unstable region still on the brink of change and revolution (Traveller)

Are you confused by the welter in the Middle East, headlines crowded with revolution and coup, Islamism, civil war and resurgent jihad? May I recommend Paul Danahar's excellent regional survey, The New Middle East: The World After the Arab Spring? Danahar is the BBC's Middle East bureau chief, experienced and clear eyed. His style is crisp and elegant, equally adept at telling human portraits as interviewing generals and presidents and sketching historical context ... The events of the Arab Spring and its aftermath will continue to defy prediction; but in the meantime, it's worth reading Danahar to take stock of some of the geopolitical tectonic shifts and the forces that are remaking our old assumptions (Prospect)

Book Description

BBC bureau chief Paul Danahar sets out the new order in the Middle East following the Arab Spring, and explains what it will mean both for the region and the West

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
"The collapse of the old order has left the West scrambling to make sense of a region it hardly recognises. If the people of the Arab world can now speak openly for the first time, then it is also the West's first chance to listen. And there are many questions to be answered."

For anyone who is interested in how the Middle East shapes global politics, this book is required reading. But the breadth and depth of this impressive book's evaluation makes it equally essential for the world leaders and power brokers themselves. Writing in eminently readable, unintimidating prose, Paul Danahar gives us a formidable study of a region that is as complicated as a game of chess and as delicate as a game of jenga.

Chapter by chapter, Mr Danahar gives us a comprehensive breakdown of each of the key countries in the area and takes us through the background and countless complicating factors and factions that have led to this pivotal moment in their histories. The introduction alone is worth the price of admission.

Paul Danahar has lived and worked in all the countries he writes about over many years so he really knows whereof he speaks and there are many direct quotes from key players. President Shimon Peres tells the author: "President Obama asked me 'Who is against democracy in the Middle East?' I answered him, 'The husbands.'"

The deftness of Mr Danahar's touch also provides some memorable phrases: On the middle classes in Tunisia: "...when trouble breaks out their instincts are normally to moan, not to march.....[but] if the flashy neighbours are showing off with your money, the gardening gloves come off.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend this book. 12 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found this book extremely interesting and easy to read considering the seriousness of the subject matter - excellent book.
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By Mugsy M
Format:Paperback
With a relentless day to day proximity to chaotic events across the region as they unfolded, Paul Danahar has written the book I expect many armchair experts wish they had - a thoughtful, nuanced and highly readable book on The New Middle East.

Skilfully mixing reportage and personal experience, on the events of the Arab Spring and beyond, he places contemporary events adroitly within their political, religious and social context. His direct style and myriad of conversations, interviews and observations from the man and women in the street to the regions leaders, some still here and some now gone, provides a fantastic narrative on the present and will undoubtedly stand as a classic text on the period for years to come.

The book has many gems: from an interview at a seaside restaurant in downtown Tripoli in Spring 2011 with Muammar Gaddafi to a discussion on US made tear gas canisters being discharged in the streets of Cairo at the very point that the chief American diplomat, Hilary Clinton, was saying: ‘We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protestors’.

Perhaps best are the illuminating if chilling lines ‘If you give a boy a gun he thinks he is a man’ which later leads on to ‘Now that he has his gun he must be told what he is being asked to fight, kill and perhaps die for.’ Depressingly, this is an apt description of many war scenarios.

Now that Danahar is the BBC North American Bureaux Chief in Washington I really hope he turns his attention to writing the New 21st Century USA.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading on an essential region 8 May 2014
Format:Paperback
This is the one book on the Middle East that anyone with a glimmer of interest in global affairs needs to read. It's just as essential for those who engage with the region on a daily basis. Veteran BBC journalist Paul Danahar has won accolades and honours for his reporting from Mesopotamia to the Mahghreb. This work will add to an existing impressive record of insightful journalism. It's about a Middle East that is still emerging from what -- misleadingly -- came to be known as the "Arab Spring". The upheaval began in Tunisia, spread to Egypt and Libya and continues to convulse Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Not to mention Israel which both watches and participates in the affairs of neighbouring countries as a matter of survival and long habit. Combining journalists' anecdotes with penetrating analysis, Danahar moves effortlessly around the most militarized region in the world and exposes its worst excesses and the toll of human beings. There's also humour, pathos and flashes of inspiration and hope amid the tumult. Few reporters manage to pull off this delicate balance, venturing too far towards travel memoir or dry academic synthesis. Not Danahar who sets new standards in a well trodden genre. We eagerly await his next collection of reportage, perhaps from his current base in the Americas, or the lively political and economic landscapes of India and China where he honed his journalistic skills as a younger journalist.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Riddled with misprints. A disgrace. 7 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Kindle edition of this book is disgraceful. I am having to stop reading after only a few pages. For example, the first mention of the city of "Homs" spells it as "Horns". How could any publisher let this out?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The New Middle East
A prompt delivery from Amazon. The book was disappointing in that the many interesting facts it contained seemed rather disorganised and made it difficult to get a good overview... Read more
Published 5 months ago by J. C. Gittins
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and informative
Gave me a good view on the outlook for the Middle East, at least as seen by the author. While I had done a certain amount of reading about the region, I learned quite a bit from... Read more
Published 6 months ago by John Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Mr Danahar superbly describes the events in the Middle East and clarifies the complexities of the situation in each featured country.
Published 8 months ago by Michael Ladkin
4.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately this moving target beat the author but...
A very interesting and lucidly presented book giving background to the various "arab springs" informing on the directly involved countries and supplying much pertinent... Read more
Published 8 months ago by B. James
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't believe this guy works for the BBC
I got this book from the library completely by chance. I thought I had read all I needed to read about the Middle East but it wasn't going to cost me anything so I gave it a try. Read more
Published 8 months ago by GeorgeMK
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for anyone trying to get to grips with the New Middle East.
A superbly engaging read. Paul Danahar has witnessed first hand most of the key moments of the last 2 and half years of upheaval across the Middle East. Read more
Published 9 months ago by John
5.0 out of 5 stars Circumstances very well presented and described.
Excellent description of the resulting chaotic situation following the so-called Arab Spring and the likely outcome around the Middle East.
Published 9 months ago by Brian M.
5.0 out of 5 stars compulsory reading
Anybody interested in current affairs should read this book. Most informative and beautifully written. I am more than likely to read it again. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Pukeka
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading
I started this book with trepidation because of course it couldn't possibly compete with Robert Fisk, 'The Great War for Civilisation' could it?! Well, I think it does. Read more
Published 9 months ago by S. Stevens
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