BookTalkUNA presents

Rage and Rebellion across the Islamic World

Join us for an evening of discussion with special guest
Award-winning international journalist and writer

is held in conjunction with
the Institute of International Education

Monday, October 1, 2012
6 p.m. | Reception
6:30 p.m. | Presentation
7:15 p.m. | Book Signing

Institute of International Education
809 United Nations Plaza, Kaufman Center
New York, NY


Award-winning journalist Robin Wright predicted in 2008 that the Middle East was on the edge of inevitable and epic change. She then spent three years exploring the emerging players and evolving ideas that are today visibly transforming the world's most volatile region. In ROCK THE CASBAH: Rage and Rebellion across the Islamic World, the former Washington Post correspondent delivers a vivid inside account of both the promise and the peril now emerging from the most traumatic wave of empowerment in the early 21st century.

The book, which won the 2012 Overseas Press Club's Cornelius Ryan Award for the best non-fiction book on international affairs, draws on four decades covering the region's wars, terrorism and turmoil. Wright says the Islamic world is now witnessing a new "counter-jihad," in raucous uprisings challenging autocratic regimes and extremist ideologies, from al Qaeda's creed to Iran's theocracy. Civil disobedience has replaced suicide bombs, and the new battle cry is selmiyya, selmiyya or "peaceful, peaceful." The emerging counter-jihad is manifest in the resistance of Pakistani villagers to Taliban intrusions, the evolution of Turkey's ruling party, and debates among former jihadis in Egyptian prisons.

The extreme political makeover is inspired by a culture of change reflected in hip-hop protest songs, plays, poetry, Muslim comedians, and Islamic televangelists. Muslims across fifty-seven nations (with a population of 1.57 billion) crave changes compatible with a globalizing world. Rejecting strict secularism and liberalism, however, they want to evolve in ways that are politically and culturally comfortable for Muslims. The next decade is likely to be both more democratic and more Islamic, a combination that will often confuse the West.

Wright shows that a decade after 9/11, the tense clash of civilizations is increasingly being replaced by a commonality of civilizations — reflected in the quest for free speech, honest elections, fair representation, equitable justice, protection of minorities and political dignity. She profiles the baby boom generation in a region where up to two-thirds are under thirty but the majority are also now educated—and want more out of life than mere subsistence. She chronicles the stories of young activists at the heart of Egypt's uprising and techies who have been imprisoned for using Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. She talks to rappers from Morocco, the Palestinian territories and Somalia who vent their anger and agendas in hip hop. She interviews Saudi feminists who lead campaigns to divorce (and drive) and go on television to condemn radical fatwas. Muslims from every corner of the globe, including the United States, are part of the new counter-jihad.

A different kind of Islamic activism permeates the transformation. The convulsive changes across the Islamic world, Wright finds, show that a growing number of Muslims now want to use their faith as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. For them, Islam is often more about identity than piety, about Muslim values rather than Islamic ideology. Islam is a comfortable space to search for solutions compatible with global trends; it is no longer about creating an ideal Islamic state. Yet preoccupied with its "war on terrorism," the outside world missed abundant signals that the Middle East wanted change — and that a new generation was ready to go to the streets to get it. The West for decades gave priority to stability and its own needs (such as oil), allowing autocratic regimes and extremist movements to feed off each other.

From a well-known Middle East expert and widely recognized television commentator, ROCK THE CASBAH is a fresh, colorful, and ultimately hopeful view of the revolts now shaking the Islamic world, while clearly demonstrating that the counter-jihad is key to eradicating Islamic extremism in the long term. Brimming with stirring personal stories, eye-opening anecdotes, and incisive analysis, it is at once a timely dispatch from the front lines of change and an invaluable guide to where we go from here.

Robin Wright has reported from 140 countries for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Time, The Atlantic, The Sunday Times, Foreign Affairs, and other publications. Among many awards, she has won the U.N. Correspondents Gold Medal, National Magazine Award, and Overseas Press Club Award for "best reporting in any medium requiring exceptional courage and initiative." She has been a fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Yale, Duke, and Stanford. She is also the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant.

Her six previous books include Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East, The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran, Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam, Flashpoints: Promise and Peril in a New World, and In the Name of God: The Khomeini Decade. A frequent commentator on foreign affairs, she has appeared on Meet the Press, This Week, Face the Nation, PBS NewsHour, Charlie Rose, Frontline, Washington Week, The Colbert Report, Hardball, HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, and newscasts on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, and MSNBC.

Visit Robin Wright's website

Praise from the reviews

"Anyone seeking deeper understanding of the Arab Spring needs to read Wright's formidably well-informed book… Wright's richly textured portrait of ancient cultures in the throes of wrenching but liberating transformation makes it quite clear that Muslims themselves will decide their future." Los Angeles Times

"Extremely prescient… Wright writes with authority, drawing on her decades of experience… and in these pages she uses her intimate knowledge of the region to look at how much-covered recent events… are related, and to situate them within a larger historical and political context." New York Times Book Review

"Wright's book succeeds handsomely. As one of this country's top Middle East reporters for more than four decades and the author of five other books about Islam and the Middle East, she deftly escorts her readers around the region." Washington Post

"Beginning with the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the story of the Muslim Middle East seems to be taking on a decidedly different twist. The tale is not yet over, however, and Rock the Casbah confirms Wright's status as one of our best storytellers." Christian Science Monitor

"Finally, a look to the future, from a foreign correspondent who has witnessed the rebellion of the post-9/11 Middle East and the danger of extremism in all its forms." Chicago Tribune

"It's a book that bears reading at least once, and can help all of us understand the monumental changes we've witnessed in the last year, and are sure to witness in the months and years to come." Foreign Policy Blogs Network