Jack Shenker

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The Egyptians

book | Non-Fiction | Jan 2016
World → Penguin (Ed. Helen Conford)

From award-winning journalist Jack Shenker, The Egyptians is the essential book about Egypt and radical politics

In early 2011, Cairo's Tahrir Square briefly commanded the attention of the world. Half a decade later, the international media has largely moved on from Egypt's explosive cycles of revolution and counter-revolution - but the Arab World's most populous nation remains as volatile as ever, its turmoil intimately bound up with forms of authoritarian power and grassroots resistance that stretch right across the globe.

In The Egyptians: A Radical Story, Jack Shenker uncovers the roots of the uprising that succeeded in toppling Hosni Mubarak, one of the Middle East's most entrenched dictators, and explores a country now divided between two irreconcilable political orders. Challenging conventional analyses that depict contemporary Egypt as a battle between Islamists and secular forces, The Egyptians illuminates other, far more important fault lines: the far-flung communities waging war against transnational corporations, the men and women fighting to subvert long-established gender norms, the workers dramatically seizing control of their own factories, and the cultural producers (novelists, graffiti artists and illicit bedroom DJs) appropriating public space in defiance of their repressive and increasingly violent western-backed regime.

Situating the Egyptian revolution in its proper context - not as an isolated event, but as an ongoing popular struggle against a certain model of state authority and economic exclusion that is replicated in different forms around the world - The Egyptians explains why the events of the past five years have proved so threatening to elites both inside Egypt and abroad. As Egypt's rulers seek to eliminate all forms of dissent, seeded within the rebellious politics of Egypt's young generation are big ideas about democracy, sovereignty, social justice and resistance that could yet change the world.


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This deeply reported book makes for uncomfortable reading as Jack Shenker uncovers the British companies and names behind the rebranding of Egypt under its new dictatorship. Essential reading for those who want to go beyond the conventional wisdom and understand the real causes of upheaval in the Arab world.

Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor, Channel 4 News and author of Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution

Jack Shenker cuts through the complacent clichés and self-flattering illusions of foreign correspondents and experts to produce an intimate and comprehensive portrait of contemporary Egypt, which is as historically informed as it is politically shrewd. 

Pankaj Mishra

I started reading this and couldn't stop. It's a remarkable piece of work, and very revealing. A stirring rendition of a people’s revolution... as the popular forces that Shenker vividly depicts carry forward their many and varied struggles, with radical potential that extends far beyond Egypt.

Noam Chomsky

This is the deepest and most comprehensive account of Egypt's revolution in the English language, and it will set the agenda for debate throughout the Arab world.

Paul Mason

A must read for anyone who wants to understand how and why Egypt's revolution happened – and why it continues... truly astonishing... painstakingly researched, moving, engaging and engaged, the most articulate and comprehensive account of the revolution I have read to date.

Mariam Ali
Open Democracy

Well-researched and absorbing... a refreshing, original take on a country with an uncertain future.

Sameer Rahim
The Telegraph

A sophisticated analysis... A historical long view is just one of the things that makes this book stand out. 

Anthony Sattin
The Guardian

A passionate study... his analysis is acutely clear-sighted, given the chaos of recent events. The book therefore mixes a hawk's eye view of the forces of global capitalism as applied to Egypt with a vivid worm's eye view of what it is like to be caught up in a revolution... it tells stories that need to be told, and which have been widely ignored.

George Arney

Shenker's book relates big ideas to dozens of intimate stories about Egypt and its people. His passion, energy and journalistic acumen are remarkable.

Geographical Magazine

Powerful and inspiring stuff... Jack Shenker’s The Egyptians belongs in the bookshelf next to George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia and John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World. This is revolutionary journalism at its finest.

Simon Assaf
Socialist Review

This meticulous, passionate study combines on-the-ground reporting of the Egyptian revolution of 2011 with effective analysis of its causes and achievements... a work of painstaking research and investigation.

Ahdaf Soueif
The Guardian

This finely researched book, marked by careful reflections of the author’s experiences, comes five years after the rupture of the Arab world, an upheaval that saw millions demanding their dignity. Shenker offers a grounded analysis of how a revolution was engendered in politically claustrophobic conditions. This book has a cinematic quality in how it pans in and out of historical tracts, marrying them to recent events with skilful nudging of dispatches from one chapter to the next.

Farid Farid
The Australian

A sweeping look at the long trajectory of popular mobilization, local battles and political conflict, transcending the travails of the Jan. 25, 2011, revolution and the July 3, 2013, military coup. His deeply sympathetic look at the long struggles of ordinary Egyptians, outside of the spotlight of Cairo’s activist class, gives substance to the view that the military coup cannot long suppress the restless energy of Egyptians.

The Washington Post

A troubling yet highly engaging catch-up on the state of incomplete revolution in Egypt.

Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Karolina Sutton
+44 (0)20 7393 4428
Email Karolina Sutton