“Making the Arab World: 
Nasser, Qutb, and the Clash That Shaped the Middle East” by Gerges A. Fawaz— The Modern Middle East


p style=”text-align: center;”>Gerges, Fawaz A. “Making the Arab World: 
Nasser, Qutb, and the Clash That Shaped the Middle East”, Princeton University Press, 2018.

The Modern Middle East

Amos Lassen

“In 2013, just two years after the popular overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian military ousted the country’s first democratically elected president—Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood—and subsequently led a brutal repression of the Islamist group.” This was the bloody beginning that reminded us of another Egyptian political rift: the splitting of nationalists and Islamists during the rule of Egyptian president and Arab nationalist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser. In “Making the Arab World”, writer Fawaz Gerges (one of the world’s leading authorities on the Middle East), tells us how the clash between pan-Arab nationalism and pan-Islamism has shaped the history of the region from the 1920s to the present. He does this by giving us both a biography of Nasser and a biography of Sayyid Qutb, an influential figure and leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the father of many branches of radical political Islam. It is through their intertwined lives that we see the dramatic divide between Arabism and Islam. While this is bound up in ideological and existential rhetoric, this is a struggle over the state, its role, and its power.

The writer has researched this for ten years and conducted in-depth interviews with many leading figures. To understand the situation in the Middle East, this is the best place to start.

It is important to keep in mind that the history of Egypt and the Middle East is the result of the interaction between nationalism and political Islam both of which are deeply rooted forces. Nasser and Qutb personify this. We see the complex relationship between these powerful and enduring political realities and realize that there two were not always at odds.

Fawaz Gerges gives us context and concentrates on specifics. He gives us the story of the conflict that has continued over the last 70 years and it was during this time that a secular-leaning, authoritarian nationalism was up against a theocratic irredentism. +

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction 3

1 Egypt’s “Liberal Age” 35

2 The Anti-colonial Struggle and the Dawn of Underground Politics 60

3 The Free Officers and the Ikhwan 77

4 The Birth of the Deep State and Modern Radical Islamism 126

5 Young Gamal Abdel Nasser 152

6 Young Sayyid Qutb 175

7 The Lion of the Arabs 187

8 The Accidental Islamist? 214

9 Qutb’s al-Tanzim al-Sirri 236

10 The Decline of the Nasserist Project 284

11 Sadat’s Coup and the Islamist Revival 314

12 The Mubarak Era: Keeping the Ikhwan in the Freezer 343

Conclusion 390

Notes 407

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