Shadi Hamid spoke about his book, Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East, at Politics & Prose on Sunday June 29, 2014.
In Temptations of Power, Shadi Hamid draws on hundreds of interviews with leaders and activists from across the region to advance a new understanding of how Islamist movements change over time. He puts forward the bold thesis that repression "forced" Islamists to moderate their politics, work in coalitions, de-emphasize Islamic law, and set aside the dream of an Islamic state. Meanwhile, democratic openings in the 1980s--and again during the Arab Spring--pushed Islamists back toward their original conservatism. With the uprisings of 2011, Islamists found themselves in an enviable position, but one for which they were unprepared. Groups like the Brotherhood combine the features of both political parties and religious movements, leading to an inherent tension they have struggled to resolve. However pragmatic they may be, their ultimate goal remains the Islamization of society. As long as the battle over the role of religion in public life continues, Islamist parties in countries as diverse as Egypt, Tunisia, and Jordan will remain an important force whether in the ranks of opposition or the halls of power. But what are the key factors driving their evolution? A timely and provocative reassessment, Hamid's account serves as an essential compass for those trying to understand where the region's varied Islamist groups have come from and where they might be headed.
Matthew Kroenig spoke about his book, A Time to Attack: The Looming Iranian Nuclear Threat, at Politics & Prose on Sunday June 1, 2014.
Matthew Kroenig, internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on Iran’s nuclear program, explains why we need to take immediate steps to a diplomatic and, if necessary, a military solution—now—before Iran makes any further nuclear advances. A Time to Attack provides an authoritative account of the history of Iran’s nuclear program and the international community’s attempts to stop it. Kroenig explains and assesses the options available to policymakers, and reflects on what the resolution of the Iranian nuclear challenge will mean for the future of international order.
Evan Osnos spoke about his book, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China , at Politics & Prose on Monday, May 19, 2014.
As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In Age of Ambition, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party’s struggle to retain control. He asks probing questions: Why does a government with more success lifting people from poverty than any civilization in history choose to put strict restraints on freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals—fluent in English and devoted to Western pop culture—consider themselves “angry youth,” dedicated to resisting the West’s influence? How are Chinese from all strata finding meaning after two decades of the relentless pursuit of wealth? Writing with great narrative verve and a keen sense of irony, Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism, in which only one can prevail.