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Posted at 5:45 PM ET, 02/ 9/2011

Fortuitous timing for new books on Egypt

By Stephen Lowman

onthebrink.JPG

The author of a new book that warned of conflict within Egypt says the eruption now playing out there was "inescapable." Tarek Osman, author of Egypt on the Brink,” released by Yale University Press in January, said in an email from Cairo that unrest has been simmering for decades.

“The events of the past two weeks in Egypt were not a surprise, but no one could have predicted the timing,” said Osman, one of a few authors whose new Egypt-related books come at a fortuitous time. “A socio-political eruption in Egypt, from within the middle classes, led by the youths, was inescapable."

In his book, Osman warns of the growing rift between cosmopolitan elites and the poor, underemployed population under the age of 30. “Crucially,” he writes in the introduction, “there is not only a sense of confusion, resentment and rejection among the Egyptians — especially the younger ones, but increasingly an overarching feeling of an irreparable damage, a national defeat.”

Osman, who was born and raised in Cairo, was in the storied city to witness its latest chapter.

“Having been in England for several weeks, I was thrilled to be back home in Cairo when millions of young Egyptians started taking their future in their own hands.”

Also benefiting from some lucky timing is Alison Pargeter, who published “The Muslim Brotherhood: The Burden of Tradition” in December. Her book examines the objectives of the Islamist movement which could play a role in the formation of a new Egyptian government.

Some publishers with long-planned books have been forced to adjust their strategies. Most notably, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei’s book “The Age of Deception” is being rushed to shelves this April “due to recent events and bookseller demand,” said its publisher Macmillian. The former head of International Atomic Energy Agency, ElBaradei has emerged as an opposition leader in the Egyptian protests. His book was originally scheduled for June.

cairo.JPGCairo: Histories of a City,” by Nezar AlSayyad, will be released by Belknap Press in May. Belknap publicist Lisa LaPoint said no new content would be added to the book to reflect recent events. The publisher had considered holding the book’s release so a new afterword could be included, but decided against it. LaPoint says AlSayyad may post updates on Belknap's blog.

AlSayyad left Cairo on Jan. 23 — two days before thousands of Egyptians took to the streets to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

“I have much to say, and the last chapter in my book talks about my view that neoliberal Cairo under Mubarak is a like a bomb in the tomb of a longer Egyptian history,” AlSayyad wrote in an email. “I predicted in the ‘Cairo’ book, as well as in my ‘The Fundamentalist City’ book released back in November, that it will ultimately detonate. I just could not have expected it to happen so soon.”

By Stephen Lowman  | February 9, 2011; 5:45 PM ET
 
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