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I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in Middle Eastern Studies because of the fact that it presents a strong case for rethinking the Arab Spring than just a series of failed revolutions. Feldman's analyses on Tunisia and Egypt are probably the best chapters in the book, whereas the chapter on Syria is probably the weakest. He makes a strong case that if we accept Egyptians expressing political agency in the 2011 protests, then we must accept them exercising agency again in the 2013 protests. While the results of the Arab Spring at first glance are incredibly disheartening, the example of Tunisia and (at the time of writing) possibly Sudan presents cause for hope in the future. Unfortunately, Feldman's chapter on Syria exhibits some flaws. In his attempt to present the Arab Spring as entirely the native populations expressing political agency, Feldman extremely downplays the role US interference (and lack thereof) had in the creation of the Syrian civil war. While he is correct that Obama cannot bare all of the guilt for what transpired, it feels that he writes his influence off too much. Another smaller problem Feldman has in this book is his mention in Chapter I about how the Arab Winter has signalled the end of Pan-Arabism in the Middle-East and North Africa, yet does not really provide any evidence for this fact nor addresses it again within the book. All of these faults aside, it is still a worthwhile read simply for the thesis that he has laid out on how Arab Peoples expressed political agency and that the Arab Spring was not totally in vain.
After I finally read Noah Feldman’s book titled, The Arab Winter: A Tragedy, I realized what I had gleaned about the Arab Spring focused too much on Egypt, not enough on Tunisia, and I didn’t reflect much about the consequences of the collective action of the citizens of multiple countries. Feldman has expanded my perspective on that region and the implications of collective action on what’s likely to come next. Many of us may not have liked how the people in the region exercised their agency, but Feldman proposes that a future Arab Spring is more likely because the subservience of the people in the past to unrepresentative leaders may have changed for good.