Robert Worth: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS

Tuesday 12 July, 2016
7pm, $0

192 Books
192 10th Avenue at 21 Street

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In 2011, as the world watched countries in the Middle East rise up against corrupt dictatorships and brutal police states, the journalist Robert F. Worth was there on the ground, reporting for The New York Times. In Egypt’s Tahrir Square, Worth witnessed the optimism of men and women, young and old, Muslim and secularist, as they came together to overthrow Mubarak and to try to form a democratic state. Hope was everywhere at the time, and Worth describes the looks of giddy wild disbelief on the faces around him when it was announced Mubarak would step down. For a moment, it actually seemed as if real change was possible in the Middle East.

How then did we arrive here, five years later, in a world that has to contend with ISIS, the Syrian refugee crisis, and even more unrest in the region than before? Worth offers answers inA Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS, the first broad survey of the Middle East post-Arab Spring. In a stunning work of literary narrative nonfiction, Worth chronicles a number of characters from Egypt, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Tunisia. These men and women provide windows into the very real, very personal fallout of the Arab Spring: the man who must jail and watch over his brother’s Qaddafi-era torturer; the Sunni woman whose deep friendship with an Alawi is forever poisoned by the sectarian violence in Syria; the Egyptian doctor whose devotion to the Muslim Brotherhood costs him his family and freedom. These are the lives affected by the tides of history, and Worth documents them all beautifully.

At a time when some of our nation’s political echelons bandy about the idea of closing our borders to Muslims, it’s important to see the human faces of those who have been hit hardest by their countries’ conflicts. A Rage for Order is politically and historically astute, but more than anything it is humanistic and humane—a rallying cry to understand our fellow man despite cultural and linguistic differences. In short, it is a beautiful work that will open minds and start conversations.

Robert F. Worth spent fourteen years as a correspondent for The New York Times, and was the paper’s Beirut bureau chief from 2007 until 2011. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine and The New York Review of Books. He has twice been a finalist for the National Magazine Award. Born and raised in Manhattan, he now lives in Washington, D.C.

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