Inside Egypt: The Banned Book by John R. Bradley that Predicted the Revolution

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Recent book on contemporary Egypt by a British expert on the Middle East, subtitled "The Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution," predicted with stunning accuracy the revolutionary fervor now sweeping the country.

"INSIDE EGYPT: The Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution," by JOHN R. BRADLEY (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, updated edititon, 2009)

Inside Egypt is an original, angry, brilliant, subtle, and highly readable exposé of contemporary Egyptian politics and society. -- PETER BERGEN, author of Holy War Inc and The Osama bin Laden I Know

A recent book on contemporary Egypt by a British expert on the Middle East, which caused an international media firestorm when it was banned by the Mubarak regime on publication, predicted with stunning accuracy the revolutionary fervor now sweeping the Arab world’s most populous country, and offers unparalleled insight into the ongoing turmoil.

"Inside Egypt: The Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution" (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), written by journalist John R. Bradley, boldly predicted that a revolutionary uprising would happen this year by pinpointing a perfect storm that strikingly resembles what is happening in Egypt today.

Bradley, who is fluent in Egyptian Arabic and lived in Egypt during most of the last decade, uniquely among Western observers of the country made such a categorical prediction of imminent revolution.

In addition to documenting the widespread torture and corruption in the country, Bradley argued that a revolution would be sparked by a random event that no one could foresee, but would not come from the traditional Egyptian opposition political parties. That event turned out to be the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia.

He also argued that the timing of the uprising would coincide with the final perceived push to transfer power from President Hosni Mubarak to his widely despised son, Gamal. The uprising is taking place just months before key presidential elections, which were believed by most Egyptians to be the final maneuver to introduce hereditary succession.

Finally, Bradley pointedly stressed that the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest and most disciplined opposition group, would never instigate such a revolution, but would ride the wave of popular anger once it got underway. That turned out to be precisely the Brotherhood’s strategy during the current uprising.

However, while "Inside Egypt" was championed by the Egyptian and wider Arabic-language media, and news of its ban was covered extensively in the Western media, the book received little review coverage in the United States and Britain.

This was despite the fact that Bradley’s previous bestselling book, "Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis" (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), received dozens of positive reviews in prominent publications, including The New York Times, Newsweek, and The Los Angeles Times.

“It was the Egyptian and pan-Arab media that made 'Inside Egypt' a bestseller,” says Bradley.

For two weeks, he recalls, "Inside Egypt" received blanket media coverage in Egypt, and on one day the book's cover was reprinted on the front page of every Egyptian independent and opposition newspaper. Amid a growing outcry at its act of blatant censorship, the Associated Press reported that the Egyptian regime had reneged and decided to lift the ban.

“Egyptians set up Facebook sites, in English and Arabic, which collectively attracted more than 10,000 followers, and they translated key passages into Arabic. Egyptians sometimes mentioned the book when they called in to popular current affairs programs on local television channels. The BBC Arabic satellite station led its main news broadcast with a report on the Mubarak regime’s decision to ban the book.

"Obviously, it struck a chord with Egypt’s intellectual and political elite, who, like me, saw the writing on the wall.”

In contrast, when there was review coverage in the English-language media it was often mocking, the typical argument being that the book’s prediction of an imminent popular uprising was very wide of the mark.

“It wasn’t very pleasant reading those sometimes derisory remarks, especially when it came from publications I have written for like The Economist,” Bradley adds. “But it’s true that I took a huge risk in deciding to report on what Egyptians had been telling me for a decade, rather than going with what the evidently out-of-touch Western experts were peddling.”

“It’s rather ironic that all the Cairo-based correspondents who dismissed the book’s prediction of an uprising are now reporting on the unfolding dramatic events in the country. However things turn out, the book’s prediction of a popular revolt this year was, indisputably, absolutely spot-on.”

For more information on the book and author, visit:

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Christine Catarino
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