The Hoover Institution Press today released In This Arab Time, by the late Fouad Ajami, Hoover Institution senior fellow. In this collection of thought-provoking essays, Ajami brings into focus the current struggles of the Middle East through detailed historical analysis and a personal perspective immersed in the literature of the time and place.
"More than a year ago, Fouad and I discussed his gathering and editing some of the eloquent passages of his prescience relating to the times unfolding in the Middle East,” stated John Raisian, director of the Hoover Institution. “He seemed intrigued, but hesitant--his modesty was ever-present. Fortunately, he decided to engage in the effort, from which we all will benefit.”
Ajami has been described as a spellbinding chronicler, a teller of haunting tales that open up complex worlds and concepts. Assembled in the year before he died, In This Arab Time shares Ajami’s views on events in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt, and other parts of the Arab world with his usual unflinching candor.
Ajami presents his rigorous assessment of complex challenges in the Middle East, beginning with the Syrian rebellion, explaining how an irresistible force clashed with an immovable object: the regime versus people who conquered fear to challenge a despot of unspeakable cruelty. Writing on Iraq, he suggests that many troubles in the Arab world can be linked to America's limited understanding of the region, thirst for oil, and need to deal with terrorism. He provides a chilling look at the life of 9/11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah, asserting that “the very normalcy of his upbringing and the old hedonism giving way to a sudden need for absolution are much more unsettling than the warning signs and the zeal of a true believer.” He also offers a detailed historical perspective on the evolution of Egyptian leadership after Sadat and Egypt’s fall from primacy in Arab politics.
“As I wrote in my foreword to his last book, Fouad was a truly 'gifted scholar, teacher, writer, adviser, and public commentator. . . . I am confident that the insights contained in this book will shed light on our understanding of the Middle East, but more importantly, affirm Fouad's abiding convictions toward peace and freedom for all people.' Fouad was a dear personal friend. His brilliance will be sorely missed," Raisian concluded.
Fouad Ajami was a Lebanese-born American university professor and a prolific writer on Middle Eastern issues. He was the Herbert and Jane Dwight Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the cochair of the Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order. From 1980 to 2011 he was a professor and director of Middle East studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He has written numerous books, including The Arab Predicament, Beirut: City of Regrets, The Vanished Imam: Musa al-Sadr and the Shia of Lebanon, The Dream Palace of the Arabs, The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq, and, most recently, The Syrian Rebellion (Hoover Institution Press, 2012). His writings also include more than four hundred essays on Arab and Islamic politics, US foreign policy, and contemporary international history. Ajami received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Fellows Award (1982) and the National Humanities Medal (2006). His research charted the road to 9/11, the Iraq war, and the US presence in the Arab-Islamic world. He died in June 2014.
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