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The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising [Hardcover]

Gilbert Achcar , G. M. Goshgarian
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

17 Jun 2013
The people want ... So began the slogan chanted by millions of protesters across the Arab world in 2011, as their long-suppressed craving for democracy revealed itself. But huge social and economic problems were also laid bare by the protestors demands.

In this landmark work, noted Middle East analyst Gilbert Achcar draws up a balance sheet of the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria, and analyses the specific socio-economic features that hinder the region s development. Achcar also sheds light on the nature and role of the movements that use Islam as a political banner and the oil monarchies that sponsor them.

With incisive and invaluable insight, Achcar outlines the requirements for a lasting solution to the social crisis and the contours of a progressive political alternative. What we have witnessed to date is only the beginning of a revolutionary process that is likely to extend for many more years to come.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Saqi Books (17 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0863568998
  • ISBN-13: 978-0863568992
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 77,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'One of the best analysts of the contemporary Arab world.' Le Monde

'How does one tell the story of a revolutionary moment when the cataclysmic events are still underway, when the future remains remarkably uncertain, and where upheavals continue to characterise the day-to-day conduct of politics? Gilbert Achcar's' The People Want provides a felicitous response to this question. ... Any reader who would like a clear-eyed, theoretically grounded, and lucid assessment of what the Arab uprisings have wrought so far would benefit from this book.'Laleh Khalili, The Middle East in London

'Telling a story let alone one as complicated as that of the Arab uprisings and their historical lineage from beginning to end is a task few can complete. ... Yet this is what Gilbert Achcar s The People Want manages to do. This is the first book to locate the Arab uprisings within a broad historical sweep. ... Once we accompany Gilbert out of and away from the freak show that is mainstream scholarship about the Middle East, historical events and conceptual constructs start to take a completely different shape.' --Maha Abdelrahman, Jadaliyya

'While some readers may be distracted by Achcar s unabashedly Marxist analysis, the strength and long-range view of his socio-economic insights should overcome such reluctance. ... His insights offer a reasoned practical hope, whereas other analysts on the left offer doom and gloom. Moreover, Achcar s chapter providing a balance sheet of what has been achieved so far in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Syria, as well as an assessment of future prospects in each country, is indispensable. Andrew Stimson, director of the American Educational Trust Book Club, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

'It is easy to follow the events of the Arab Spring as it continues to unfold and get excited by some developments only to have the enthusiasm dashed by new twists and turns. While it is important to not gloss over troubling data, Achcar is correct to insist that we are still in the early stages and many different roads are still open. What he says about Libya is true for the entire region: The game is not over yet .' --New Politics

'Publishing a book about the Arab uprising may seem a perilous venture given how swiftly events are changing. However, Gilbert Achcar, professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, avoids the risk of being outdated by zooming in on root causes and abiding trends. ... The book offers a valuable, in-depth and original perspective for evaluating the popular revolts which continue to determine events in the Arab region.' Jordan Times

'Brushing aside a host of fashionable narratives to explain the Arab spring, Gilbert Achcar s recent book offers a radically different perspective. ... His prophetic analysis, informed by a Marxist outlook, springs from rigorous research and deep knowledge of Arab realities.' --The News

'Gilbert Achcar, the pre-eminent Marxist scholar of the Arab world ... attempts to get beneath surface impressions, especially those based on changing seasons....Departing from the game of nations framework that is used by most commentators on MENA as a way of reducing everything to a battle between the US and an anti-imperialist bloc led by Vladimir Putin, Achcar's analysis is grounded in the class relations that exist within nations like Egypt, Libya, Syria et al.' --CounterPunch

'[This] important book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the revolutions of 2011 in the Arab world ... mobilising an impressive range of comparative data, [it] represents the most significant attempt yet to grapple with the theoretical challenges of analysing this immense popular uprising from a Marxist perspective ... Very valuable.' --International Socialism

'Publishing a book about the Arab uprising may seem a perilous venture given how swiftly events are changing. However, Gilbert Achcar, professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, avoids the risk of being outdated by zooming in on root causes and abiding trends. ... The book offers a valuable, in-depth and original perspective for evaluating the popular revolts which continue to determine events in the Arab region.' Jordan Times

'Brushing aside a host of fashionable narratives to explain the Arab spring, Gilbert Achcar s recent book offers a radically different perspective. ... His prophetic analysis, informed by a Marxist outlook, springs from rigorous research and deep knowledge of Arab realities.' --The News

About the Author

Gilbert Achcar is Professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His other works include Perilous Power: The Middle East and US Foreign Policy, with Noam Chomsky. Author location: London,UK.

Translated from the French by G.M. Goshgarian. Born in the United States and educated at Yale and UCLA, Goshgarian translates fiction and philosophy from French, German and Armenian into English. He is the author of To Kiss the Chastening Rod (Cornell U.P.).

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Gilbert Achcar has been a keen observer of the Arab world's history and politics for a number of years now and follows up excellent past contributions such as 'The Eastern Cauldron', 'The Clash of Barbarisms' and 'The Arabs and the Holocaust' with this 'The People Want. A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising', where he brings the best of his insight and judgement to bear on the Arab revolutions.

This book is a magnificent achievement. Firstly, Achcar has improved considerably as a writer and the book flows pefectly. Second, Achcar is steeped in the political currents of the region and isn't some newcomer jumping on a bandwagon but an analyst with decades of experience in the subject he has mastered. Thirdly, Achcar's Marxist method has also improved and this is completely related to the first two points.

Achcar starts with a history of the political economy of the Arab world. Here, he is chiefly concerned with how capitalism has developed in the region. How are Arab economies organised? How do they relate to one another? To the dominant powers in Europe and America? What are the social relations internally? Who are the winners and losers?

Having established the background, Achcar then forensically examines the revolutions themselves. Who started them? How? How did they develop? Inform one another?
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5.0 out of 5 stars very good book 24 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
i really love this author, he's clear and precise and gives an interesting and original insight on the arab spring. the book arrived earlier than expected and it was in perfect condition. couldn't ask for anything better
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent analysis. 5 Aug 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
One of the most incisive and compehensive analses I have come across of the variety of events surrounding the Arab Spring. Requires some lnowledge of marxist socio-economic ideas to appreciate fully what he is saying, however, and the translation could have been made more accessible.
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