on 30 October 2011
I stumbled across this book [initial impressions were wrought with skepticsim when I saw the title on the spine] on the shelf of an author while trying to create a 'to-read' list from their collection of political publications. The nimble thickness was immediately attractive to warrant having a previewing a chapter before committing to it as a purchase. I was immediately struck by how concise and sharp it was in its analysis of the British colonisation of Egypt.
What struck me furthermore, was the presentation and exploration of British colonial rule over Egypt as principles - and how familiar these principles were to the Euro-Israeli colonisation of Palestine - and the way the Middle East was shaped both politically and culturally after the fall of the Ottoman Empire into the toxic, political mess that is undergoing a momentous shift toward independence now  with the [rather horrifically reductionist title] 'Arab Spring.'
Even more notable [and worthy of praise] is the constant referral to texts written by Arabs [Egyptians] who drew their own parallels and perspectives on the differences that set them apart from their colonial, European rulers. The nature with which they become 'Orientalist' exhibition pieces for the European 'natives' is both enlightening and horrifying - as well as being disturbingly familiar in a Modern day context as a person of ethnic origin myself.
His exploration of decade old British principles that effectively crippled the evolution of Arab independence, emancipation and culture by turning a resource rich region and people into a subjugated, manufacturing workforce ruled by inefficient methods of deceit, mistrust and torturous policing methods I'm sure the Pharaohs would've been ashamed to adopt as their legacy - provide a solid foundation upon which to better understand how and why it has been so difficult for this troubled region to stabilise itself and its neighbours since being ruled by the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire.
The heart of colonialism as Timothy strongly points out - they can strip, torture and cripple your body, but you are only truly subjugated and under the power and influence of the coloniser if/when they reach break/affect your mind.
An absolute MUST READ for anyone with origins in the Arab/Islamic world, anyone studying or with even a amateur interest or curiosity about this region and why it is the way it is - and especially for anyone who is looking for a more tangible follow up to the political principles laid out in George Orwell's '1984.'