How the conflict between political Islamists and secular-leaning nationalists has shaped the history of the modern Middle East
In 2013, just two years after the popular overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian military ousted the country’s first democratically elected president—Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood—and subsequently led a brutal repression of the Islamist group. These bloody events echoed an older political rift in Egypt and the Middle East: the splitting of nationalists and Islamists during the rule of Egyptian president and Arab nationalist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser. In Making the Arab World, Fawaz Gerges, one of the world’s leading authorities on the Middle East, tells how the clash between pan-Arab nationalism and pan-Islamism has shaped the history of the region from the 1920s to the present.
Gerges tells this story through an unprecedented dual biography of Nasser and another of the twentieth-century Arab world’s most influential figures—Sayyid Qutb, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood and the father of many branches of radical political Islam. Their deeply intertwined lives embody and dramatize the divide between Arabism and Islamism. Yet, as Gerges shows, beyond the ideological and existential rhetoric, this is a struggle over the state, its role, and its power.
Based on a decade of research, including in-depth interviews with many leading figures in the story, Making the Arab World is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the roots of the turmoil engulfing the Middle East, from civil wars to the rise of Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Fawaz A. Gerges is professor of international relations and Emirates Chair in Contemporary Middle East Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author of several acclaimed books, including ISIS: A History (Princeton), The New Middle East, and The Far Enemy.
1 Egypt’s “Liberal Age” 35
2 The Anti-colonial Struggle and the Dawn of Underground Politics 60
3 The Free Officers and the Ikhwan 77
4 The Birth of the Deep State and Modern Radical Islamism 126
5 Young Gamal Abdel Nasser 152
6 Young Sayyid Qutb 175
7 The Lion of the Arabs 187
8 The Accidental Islamist? 214
9 Qutb’s al-Tanzim al-Sirri 236
10 The Decline of the Nasserist Project 284
11 Sadat’s Coup and the Islamist Revival 314
12 The Mubarak Era: Keeping the Ikhwan in the Freezer 343