Am höchsten bewertete positive Rezension
The Failed Awakening
am 23. Oktober 2005
This book is an absorbing blend of history and literary criticism. A somewhat melancholy narrative of the political and economic failure of the Arab World in the 20th century, it is also a study of Arab intellectual currents of the time. The author chronicles the lives and the thoughts of these intellectuals from the heyday of modernity in the middle of the century through pan-Arabism, secular nationalism and Nasserism.
The great dream of an Arab Awakening failed miserably. The total defeat of 1967 was a turning point in the move towards religious fundamentalism whilst the increased oil revenue after 1973 only exacerbated the fragmentation of the Arab World into brutal fascist regimes, medieval theocracies and oiligarchies.
There were and are exceptions to the majority of intellectuals who were united mainly in their hatred of Israel, like the Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz, the Palestinian academic Sari Nusseibeh and a few others. According to Ajami's insightful analyses, repeated failure led to extremism and further disasters and thus the cycle of hopelessness continued.
This book was published in 1998 so it preceded the expressions of more murderous nihilism as seen in 9/11, the further intifada against Israel and the genocide in Darfur. The embrace of religious fundamentalism has been facilitated by the nihilistic utopianism of writers like Edward Said and others. One of the results of this regrettable trend has been the more severe oppression of minorities like the Christian Copts in Egypt.
The book is illuminating on many levels: the Shia/Sunni divide, The Iranian revolution and Arab perceptions of it, The Oslo accords, Iraq's war against Iran and Kuwait, the assassination of Sadat and the attitudes of the Arab intelligentsia towards Israel.
Dream Palace Of The Arabs is a most enlightening read for those who wish to understand the tragic history of the Middle East. The work is scholarly and well researched, but the writing has a riveting and poetic quality that keeps the reader captivated throughout.