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Into the Hands of the Soldiers

Freedom and Chaos in Egypt and the Middle East
Narrated by: David D. Kirkpatrick
Length: 13 hrs and 31 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (62 ratings)
Regular price: $31.95
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Publisher's Summary

One of The Economist's Books of the Year

A candid narrative of how and why the Arab Spring sparked, then failed, and the truth about America's role in that failure and the subsequent military coup that put Sisi in power - from the Middle East correspondent of The New York Times.

In 2011, Egyptians of all sects, ages, and social classes shook off millennia of autocracy, then elected a Muslim Brother as president. The 2013 military coup replaced him with a new strongman, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has cracked down on any dissent or opposition with a degree of ferocity Mubarak never dared. New York Times correspondent David D. Kirkpatrick arrived in Egypt with his family less than six months before the uprising first broke out in 2011, looking for a change from life in Washington, DC. As revolution and violence engulfed the country, he received an unexpected and immersive education in the Arab world.

For centuries, Egypt has set in motion every major trend in politics and culture across the Middle East, from independence and Arab nationalism to Islamic modernism, political Islam, and the jihadist thought that led to Al Qaeda and ISIS. The Arab Spring revolts of 2011 spread from Cairo, and now Americans understandably look with cynical exasperation at the disastrous Egyptian experiment with democracy. They fail to understand the dynamic of the uprising, the hidden story of its failure, and Washington's part in that tragedy. In this candid narrative, Kirkpatrick lives through Cairo's hopeful days and crushing disappointments alongside the diverse population of his new city: the liberal yuppies who first gathered in Tahrir Square; the persecuted Coptic Christians standing guard around Muslims at prayer during the protests; and the women of a grassroots feminism movement that tried to seize its moment. Juxtaposing his on-the-ground experience in Cairo with new reporting on the conflicts within the Obama administration, Kirkpatrick traces how authoritarianism was allowed to reclaim Egypt after 30 months of turmoil.

Into the Hands of the Soldiers is a heartbreaking story with a simple message: The failings of decades of autocracy are the reason for the chaos we see today across the Arab world. Because autocracy is the problem, more autocracy is unlikely to provide a durable solution. Egypt, home to one in four Arabs, is always a bellwether. Understanding its recent history is essential to understanding everything taking place across the region today - from the terrorist attacks in the North Sinai and Egypt's new partnership with Israel to the bedlam in Syria and Libya.

©2018 David D. Kirkpatrick (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"This street-level account of the Egyptian revolution and its aftermath combines memoir, reportage, and analysis.... Kirkpatrick’s most valuable insights come from interviews given, years later, by Obama Administration officials." (The New Yorker)   

"Kirkpatrick describes these tumultuous times in compelling detail. The author is honest about how hard it was to interpret events, grasp the motives of people such as Sisi and Morsi and predict the direction in which Egypt was heading.... But Kirkpatrick, who dodged bullets and official harassment, deciphered the mystery." (The Economist)  

"What [Kirkpatrick] has written is a tragedy, not only in the sense of a dreadful mishap, but in the Greek sense of a terrible fate that the hero has provoked yet cannot or will not see - though we in the audience can. It's an account that fills us with terror and pity." (The Wall Street Journal

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great book exceeding expectations

Very nice to hear, full of facts, fairly unbiased, I enjoyed every minute of it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Awesome story and perspective

I am usually not one to write reviews but this was such an excellent story. I love these great historical and in depth dives into a story but this was even better given that it was told from the perspective of a reporter that is covering it. It was a very nuanced and detailed approach to this largely complex story. Definitely recommend this book!

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Important current history

While the detail, especially, it seemed to me, of the early 2011 events, can be difficult to get through, what's going on in Egypt is important to understand. I think I enjoyed the really current events/politics the most.

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  • Fruggs
  • GROVETOWN, GA, US
  • 08-28-18

may get better, but presentation is off putting

I have only just started listening to this, but I don't know if I can finish it. The author himself reads it, much to it's determent. The author is massively condescending in tone, and presentation. It is possible to write about a people and a society without sounding like a complete @sshat. As a student of Arabic, and the Middle East, it's distracting to the point that I've stopped listening and come to write a review. I have listened and read a fair number of books on the Middle East, the Arab Spring, and the history and politics that shaped the area, I am unsure if I will continue this one.
It is possible to detail complex social and political situations without saturating facts with intonation which speaks in a louder volume than the text itself in viewpoint. The author's intonation and delivery give a very clear personal (very, very low) opinions of the peoples, countries, and regions he is writing about. The author himself, is giving distinct intonation and determining the phrasing and delivery. Therefore, one can only assume he is reading it just as he intended it to be presented. As presented, it is incredibly condescending, an attempt at wry witty worldly cynicism that just comes off as arrogant, hypocritical, and demeaning. To my ears, it readily demonstrates why perhaps, that westerners are viewed so poorly.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Not true

many things which are written in this book arunachal and are written through the eyes of biased.
the book is boring and this is not will high quality info.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful