On the Front Line Between Tradition and Change in the Middle East
Generation Revolution unravels the complex forces shaping the lives of four young Egyptians caught between tradition and modernity, and what their stories mean for the future of the Middle East.
In 2003, Rachel Aspden arrived in Egypt as a 23-year-old trainee journalist. She found a country on the brink of change. Of Egypt's 80 million citizens, two-thirds were under 30. The new generation were stifled, broken and frustrated – caught between a dictatorship with nothing to offer them and autocratic parents still clinging to tradition and obedience after a lifetime of fear.
In January 2011, the young people’s patience ran out. They thought the revolution that followed would change everything for them. But as violence escalated, the economy collapsed and as the united front against Mubarak shattered into sectarianism, many found themselves wavering, hesitant to discard the old ways.
What happens when a revolution unravels?
Why is a generation raised on Hollywood movies and global brand names turning to religion?
How do you choose between sex and tradition, consumerism and faith?
Why would people who once chanted for freedom support a military state?And where will the next generation take the Middle East?
Following the stories of four young Egyptians – Amr the atheist software engineer, Amal the village girl who defied her family and her entire community, Ayman the one-time religious extremist and Ruqayah the would-be teenage martyr – Generation Revolution unravels the complex forces shaping the lives of young people caught between tradition and modernity, and what their stories mean for the future of the Middle East.
“Fascinating study… A deep dive into one of the revolution’s most critical faultlines.”
Jack Shenker, Evening Standard
“The Arab spring has yielded a bumper crop of books about youth across the region and Generation Revolution is among its more fruitful reads… Always compelling… Particularly interesting for its nuanced portraits of young Egyptian Men.”
Shereen El Feki, Observer
“Having lived on and off in Cairo for more than a decade, Aspden has a clear eye for its marvelous and maddening details… her stories are always compelling… Generation Revolution is particularly interesting for its nuanced portraits of young Egyptian men… A welcome prism, separating the spectrum of political Islam through the coming of age of its characters… A sobering tale for anyone with an interest in Egypt’s future.”
“Those stories, full of compelling detail, give a vivid sense of the conflicting forces that propelled upheavals not only in Egypt but across a wide swath of the Middle East”