Is the Arab Spring Learning Lessons from the American Revolution?

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Facebook data suggests recent Kirkus Best of 2011 Book on influential colonial rebel is popular in the Middle East, according to publisher Griffins Wharf, which has made the book's Kindle version available for free from Amazon until Thursday December 15.

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It’s bizarre that all of the top ten cities of Arsonist fans are in the Middle East and India.

Arsonist: The Most Dangerous Man in America by Nathan A. Allen, published July 4, 2011 by Griffins Wharf, was just named a Kirkus Best Books of 2011 winner and to celebrate the publisher has made the Kindle version available for free from Amazon until Thursday December 15 (midnight, EST, link below).

As the book has garnered awards, it has increased popularity in an unlikely part of the world. Arsonist’s James Otis Facebook page has over 2,800 fans and Facebook demographic data shows it to be popular in the Middle East though the book has had no promotion outside of the United States. Facebook demographic data show that the book's fans hale from all over the world, and the top U.S. city is Chicago, which comes in at #12. The eleven cities with more Arsonist Facebook fans than Chicago are six Middle Eastern cities, including three in Egypt and two in Iraq, and five Indian cities. Just below Chicago at #13 is the capitol of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, and further down the list is As Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The top non-English language for James Otis Facebook fans is Arabic. About 90% of Otis fans are English speakers, which, according to publisher Griffins Wharf, is to be expected of an English language web page about a book written solely in English, but nearly all of the remaining 10% of Otis fans list Arabic as their primary language.

“It’s a bit bizarre that all of the top ten cities are in the Middle East and India,” Arsonist author Nathan Allen said. “I wonder what those 73 fans in Giza, Egypt think about James Otis.”

According to Allen, James Otis rarely travelled outside of the Cape Cod to Boston area, and his two farthest trips were to Halifax, Nova Scotia and to New York City to attend the Stamp Act Congress in 1765, which he was instrumental in developing and coordinating. Arsonist and social media have expanded Otis’s influence far beyond the prominence he achieved in life.

“One of the great strategies Otis employed,” Allen said, “was to create unified organizations to combat centralized power. Such a strategy was fairly unique at the time, and Otis used it repeatedly to devastating effect. It could be argued that the entire feudal structure of society was fatally wounded by Otis’s ability to unify the people and motivate them to attack that structure in the media, the legislature, the court houses, and the streets. He eventually created a very well organized machine capable of relentless pursuit of the people’s interests that was effective even against the world’s greatest empire. And it appears that some people around the world are taking note of Otis’s strategies.”

Regarding Otis, Arsonist states that “By the winter of 1760 this provincial bourgeoisie, one of the wealthiest and most intelligent men in the British colonies, had become fully radicalized. He threatened to set the province aflame though, he confessed, he would likely be consumed in the fire. That his words – a promise and a prophecy – came to full fruition and his predictions about the province and his own life were entirely accurate would be unbelievable if it didn’t actually happen.”

Otis was the leader in a decisive battle between the past and the future, and the result would determine the direction of Western history. Otis would be the first major politician to champion the end of the slave trade from the position of human rights instead of religious convictions. The fate of the world hung on the actions of a few men, and none so more than Otis. And many officials in the world’s greatest empire, from local customs officers to the Prime Minister, wanted Otis dead.

The book’s most dramatic argument is that the primary accomplishment of the rebels of the 1760s was a highly successful attack on the feudal hierarchy that dominated Europe and the colonies. The book posits that Otis was the most dangerous kind of man to the feudal oligarchy; his substantial influence was derived entirely without the assistance or approval of the ruling elite. If people did not depend on the ruling elite for their success, why were the elite needed at all? The world was at a crossroads: would there be a powerful, influential middle-class or would the strict feudal hierarchy continue to order society?

Arsonist then reveals the intricate web of manipulation that Otis employs to turn the ruling oligarchy against itself, and, in the process, Otis virtually invented the modern media and political campaigns, laid the foundation for the fourth amendment, and assailed the use of warrantless searches and juryless courts.

The book argues that, “The idea that the Revolution was a proper affair conducted by gentlemen in drawing rooms is but an illusion, a historical slight-of-hand wherein the victors pull a cordial philosopher out of the fog of war.” Rather, Arsonist contends that, “The Revolution was so radical precisely because it was so unlikely. And it was conducted by gentlemen philosophers and street brawlers alike. People were killed, private homes were destroyed, and everything was turned upside down. Mobs ruled streets and manifestos rolled off printing presses. And a few were consumed by the radicalism of the ideas they brought to life. The methods that brought forth the American Revolution are oft obscured because the society it created was unique to history. And yet battles, blood, passion, betrayal, high-minded idealism and ruthless acerbity – all the usual ingredients of revolution – were abundantly present in the American Revolution.”

The 1760s was the single most decisive decade in history wherein a fundamental reinvention of society would battle against a thousand years of feudalism. “Both the objectives and the means of the rebels in early 1760s Boston were far more global and coordinated than most realize, and perhaps some in the Middle East are learning from the American Revolution,” Allen said.

Selected James Otis Facebook Data

Selected Top Countries of James Otis Fans – Number of James Otis Fans
Egypt – 320
Iraq – 117
Saudi Arabia – 31
Lebanon – 22
United Arab Emirates – 5

Top Cities – Number of James Otis Fans
Cairo(Egypt) – 92
Giza (Egypt) – 73
Mumbai (India) – 51
Irbil (Iraqi Kurdistan) – 50
Baghdad (Iraq) – 44
New Delhi (India) – 41
Delhi (India) – 38
Alexandria (Egypt) – 29
Bangalore (India) – 28
Pune (India) – 21
Beirut (Lebanon) – 19
Chicago (USA) – 19
Riyadh (Egypt) – 18
As Sulaymaniyah (Iraqi Kurdistan) – 12


“Serious students of the American Revolution and early colonial America …will find this comprehensive book a fascinating read. Allen is a thorough researcher and skillful writer … a highly readable book that is never dull.” Five Stars (out of Five)
--ForeWord Clarion Reviews

A “historical tale that boasts compelling characters and a plot that ultimately packs a wallop.” Best of 2011 winner.
--Kirkus Indie Reviews

Arsonist: The Most Dangerous Man in America is published by Griffins Wharf. The 514-page paperback book retails for $19.00.

ISBN-10: 0983644608
ISBN-13: 978-0-9836446-0-6


Amazon Kindle Version (free until midnight EST, Dec 15):




Author: nathan(dot)allen(at)mail(dot)com | 203-984-5101


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